As I was driving home from Wednesday night’s Council meeting, I couldn’t help but get a little conspiracy theorist about the Town’s initial proposal to achieve solvency by reducing sworn staffing in the police department by 40%.
The analogy I thought of was the arsonist who sets the house on fire and then rushes in to save everyone.
Threaten to axe the department, get push-back from the public, save most of it and then use that as a pretext to dip into all those taxpayer-dedicated R & U funds, saying, “We didn’t want to abuse your trust and raid money you set aside for other things, but … you asked us to do it.”
Let’s cut to the chase here. Of all its tasks, any Council should be bound by two overarching commitments – to public safety and fiduciary responsibility. All the other promises a Council makes are subordinate to these considerations, and if a Council is smart, it won’t make a lot of other promises because any additional promise is a promise you’re at risk of not being able to fulfill.
Obviously, Council, or a combination of Councils past, couldn’t fulfill one of those overarching commitments – the trickle-down effect being it will have to break a lot of promises, not just one.
That is the reality.
It is disingenuous to think that Measures A, T, R, U, et. al. are somehow not in play. They’re all in play. It is hard for me to believe Council will compound failure to fulfill overarching commitment #1 via the sacrifice of overarching commitment #2 in order to preserve “political commitments” of lesser import.
It’s like saying, “Honey, I’m sorry I cheated on you … but I hope you notice that I remembered to mow the lawn.”
This is not something anyone wants to hear (that it’s all in play), for the simple reason that … it entrusts Council with more responsibility (redistributing the total pie versus allocating just a part) than the public may be comfortable granting at the moment.
It’s hard imagining an eight-year-old would trust Council to manage his/her piggy bank right now.
While some applaud Mayor Pro-Tem Wood for his comments suggesting the police are overpaid, an attorney suggesting anyone else is overpaid is … comical.
And consider … according to the National Vital Statistics Report, average U.S. life expectancy is 78.2 years.
Average life expectancy for police officers, according to the Police Policy Studies Council, is 59 years.
The National Center for Health Statistics says the average U.S. divorce rate is 43%.
For police officers, 70% according to the FBI.
You get the picture. This is a difficult, stressful job.
Wood (and Eastman), by the way, were in power during those boom-boom years when police salaries and benefits escalated in Viagra-like fashion. While the argument can be made this was happening all over California at the time and we needed to keep pace to attract and retain employees, the point is, no alarm was sounded then.
Bacon and Eastman were the ones who traded furlough days during the recession for an extension of all the union contracts that hamstring the Town today.
The alarm being sounded by Wood now regarding police compensation seems more like a diversionary tactic than anything else. As if it’s the cops’ fault that Rick decided to mess with Hot Creek.
And Wood making the excuse at the last meeting that he wasn’t on Council when the MLLA lawsuit was filed in Nov. 2006 … okay, technically correct. But he was on Council for the eight years before that and Mayor for I believe six of those years and had left office in July of that year.
Do I really believe that the problem just cropped up in July right after he left?
Point is, in the aftermath, Rick Wood does not get a free pass when it comes to attempting to rewrite history. The Hot Creek litigation is a prominent part of Rick’s history, and I will not play Jim Lehrer to his Mitt Romney and allow myself to get steamrolled as he tries to imprint his narrative upon the public consciousness.
Local architect Bruce Woodward will not be mistaken for a Republican Presidential candidate based upon his comments Wednesday.
Woodward suggested the Town consider a blend of tax increases and spending cuts to fulfill its litigation settlement obligations.
A parcel tax of $150 per parcel per year would pretty much cover it, he said.
“I appreciate you and others proposing solutions,” responded Wood.
Random aside: You know, if we call Searles the Bear Whisperer, then here’s a nickname for Wood: Bear Stearns.
At one point, Wood asked about “whether we [Council] should touch the tax measures or not?”
Why ask the question when you know the answer? You already have.
According to Mammoth Lakes Housing Board member Bill Taylor, who spoke Wednesday, “By 2015, housing will donate 60% [of its dedicated Measure A funding] to non-housing services.”
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