Stop Feeding the Monster
I am one of many residents who are grateful to Bill Bauer for his bold column “In house or out house?” (Sept. 1, 2014). In a city where a full half of the budget is spent on salaries, the economics of outsourcing city labor is a topic requiring serious economic analysis. While some who watched the last City Council meeting might have found it touching to hear Councilmember McKeown direct staff to find a way to bring outsourced workers in-house so they could join the “family” of Santa Monica City workers, I found myself thinking of other metaphors that would be more appropriate. Thanks to Bill Bauer for having the nerve to articulate them.
Truth is, our City budget is a monster that is already bloated and needs to go on a diet. Studies show that Santa Monica has a much higher ratio of City staff to the number of residents than do cities of comparable size and that our staff are more highly paid. Add to this the fact that all of those workers are promised pensions when they retire and we face a situation where the monster is sure to grow and the more it grows, the more we will need to feed it.
I know it’s election season and everyone running for office wants to court the unions and impress the voters with their expressions of earnest concern, but members of the public who must foot the bill would be more far more impressed if public officials left the soapboxes outside City Hall and called instead for a thorough cost/benefits analysis of the options.
Where is Bobby Shriver when we need him?
There must have been a bloodbath at City Hall this morning when Mayor O’Connor and City Manager Rod Gould found out that city employees have endorsed City Council candidates. (SMDP, 9/2/14, p.3 “Coalition of SM Employees PAC announces City Council endorsements.”) As a PAC, these city employees will undoubtedly be raising and spending money to help elect and defeat local council candidates. Based on what happened a few months ago to newly hired Elizabeth Riel, that’s a big no-no in Santa Monica.
Rod Gould fired Ms. Riel for doing exactly what these city employees are doing; working on a campaign to support and oppose city council candidates. And Ms. Riel did it six years before she was hired. These are current employees involving themselves in the current election cycle. What nerve. Can you imagine how angry Ms. O’Connor and Mr. Gould must be?
I’m sure the fact that these employees have endorsed Ms. O’Connor will not be a factor at all. After Ms. O’Connor speaks to Mr. Gould about this issue — as she admitted doing in the Ms. Riel case — (SMDP, 6-5-14, “Council to Evaluate Gould Over Rescinded Job Offer”) Mr. Gould will have no choice but to fire them all.
Good luck finding new jobs, hundreds of Santa Monica employees getting involved in local electoral politics exactly like Ms. Riel did.
I typically enjoy the work of Charles Andrews in your pages. But in his piece about the Pier Concerts, Mr. Andrews is critical of the wonderful concerts that are amongst the most beloved traditions in our City.
He saw some folks who he says were pushing or bumping some older people in a rude way.
Ok. That doesn’t sound right and something should be done about it. But he seems to blame the Pier, the folks who book the concerts, the PRC, the police (for not being everywhere instantly) and the City itself. I think he left out the beautiful sunset.
How about blaming instead the (few) people who did it?
In my observation (and I’ve gone consistently for years), folks at the Pier are almost universally mellow, well-behaved and orderly.
Beyond that, the SMPD and the harbor patrol and private security and etc. are present and efficiently and effectively patrolling in most cases. In fact, in my experience, they’re practically everywhere, especially this year.
But you’ll find an accident or even a bad apple or two in any crowd. Go to the beach on a summer day or the Third Street Promenade or anywhere that people gather.
So blame the ones who are doing the act, not the larger society as a whole or subset thereof. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, or at least seem to imply that we we should.
And, by the way, if you do see something untoward, help out. It isn’t hard. Go and find a police officer or a harbor patrol officer or any one of the many safety personnel on duty at Pier Concerts and get them to the scene.
And remember, cellphones and cellphone cameras are small, unobtrusive and practically omnipresent these days. Make a call and/or make a video recording.