Thursday, December 16, 2010

Observations On the Last Budget Hearing

The last Finance Committee Budget Hearing was Thursday, 12/15/10 in Clifton. I didn't record it & I am not inclined to. Aside from the drone of rhetoric from the union guys who don't seem to understand how city finances work and are, apparently, completely unaware of the massive job losses in the private sector that has led to the current budget shortfall, there were a few highlights.
Everybody loved the most emotional, pointlessly showy speakers. Children received wild applause. Tom Luken's inane ranting & complete incompetence concerning council rules was very well received. I am fairly convinced he has been looking for a photo op of police carrying his ass out of one of these hearings McCrackin. Dan La Botz was very well received. cracked me up I imagine most of the attendees voted for him in the last election.
Gwenn Marshall got points for insulting the streetcar but applause was halting when she started calling for higher taxes. Mary Kuhl, who has been advocating for the city to embroil itself in years of legal wrangling circumventing personal property rights and tying up hundreds of thousands & probably millions of dollars in one of her pet projects, pointed out that the city should restrict itself to essential services. Justin Jeffre, (I have no idea why Qualls can't get his name right) who repeatedly cites the Charter Committee reforms of 1927 as excellence in government, condemned one of the most important parts of those reforms, the adoption of a city manager form of government. Kathy Harrell couldn't figure out how to fill out a speakers card.
A couple people cried. John Boehner, what hast thou wrought?
Melissa English and a few others commended the city for moving forward with recycling, saving the city money in landfill fees but advocated for a volume based fee system for garbage. Chris Moran & a number of other people including one fire fighter lauded the city for moving forward with the streetcar plan. They pointed out how it should improve tax revenues & compliment safety. The fire fighter labeled it's use as a political wedge issue by opponents framing it as a job killer, a red herring.
Nobody with any possible cuts had more than a couple million dollars worth of savings.
One really good question a few people brought up was: why was the firefighters contract ok'd when it obviously wasn't ok.
While the naivete of the children was ok, it didn't look that good on adults who should know better and the disingenuous hypocrisy of some others was a downright disgrace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quim - nice article, the massive budget shortfall has been a work in progress over the past several years, and is not just due to the amount of job losses. Council has failed to put together a responsible budget over the past several years, you can go back to the Luken years and see how unresponsible the budgets were. Past councils continued to spend at an unreasonable rate and not make the necessary financial decisions.