I find it amusing but very frustrating that we continually experience a systemic lack of management and due diligence in our great city. Someone comes up with an idea and the City Council pounces on it with absolutely no forethought or proper planning. This happens over and over.
Examples are the purchase of the water utility, sidewalk widening, STRP, Smokehouse Bridge, the new community center, the search for a new city manager, the QRV, the Marriott expansion, and the list goes on and on.
In efforts to save face and not throw away more money, the council continually charges blindly ahead. At the last council meeting, the subject of the quick response vehicle was discussed for almost an hour, complete with fancy charts from a number of councilmen, who debated whether to fund the QRV and the EMS/firemen to man it. Some of the arguments for purchasing the QRV and for funding 3 additional EMS/firemen were that it would drastically reduce the response time to transport critical people to local hospitals, even citing the 2011 case of the death of a resident due to length of response time. Then we find out that a QRV has already been purchased!
When will it be delivered? How much did it really cost? I heard a lot of numbers, from 35 thousand to 260 thousand. Why did the council not know this? If they were aware, why did we spend an hour discussing it? Besides it was not even in the budget, so it was not on the agenda. But no one had a ‘real’ answer as to why we bought the QRV since we don’t have people to man it. Several questions were raised at different times by different people as to whether we can cancel the purchase order for the QRV (they avoided answering).
And then we find out that the already purchased QRV can not be used to transport patients to hospitals. It’s just another example of trying to find ways to spend all the money in the budget, and then raising taxes so that there’s even more money to spend.
We also discussed about $500K for street resurfacing, then found out that this line item had already been crossed out in the budget committee review meetings; another oversight.
We suffered the same lack of management on the Smokehouse Bridge; spending millions for unusable designs. Now we’re allowing the same people to manage, guide and prepare new designs.
We suffered through the same thing on the city manager search. The search firm recommended candidates with records, and accusations of bid rigging and corruption. Again, because proper due diligence and oversight was not performed, we’ve wasted all the time and money thus far in the search. And again, so as to not start the process again from scratch, the council chooses to stay with the firm that has produced such substandard results.
As with the STRP and sidewalk widening projects, the swales along Jamaica Road are being revamped. If recent history means anything, residents will suffer through flooding and standing water in the swales causing increased bug, mold, and mosquito infestations. Also, the new swales have steep sides and deep depths resulting in danger to school children and others walking or riding bikes along there, not to mention the dangers of injury or death should a lawnmower turn over while cutting the grass. Observation shows that we should have guard rails at the sides of the road, and some sort of curbing on the road side of the sidewalks, similar to what was installed further down Jamaica after an October 2012 death when a young driver turned his car over after losing control, and in another place on Greenview Street.
We keep doing the same things, making the same mistakes, and expecting different results.
Who’s kidding whom? Who’s minding the store? Who’s managing all this mess? Who’s safeguarding our tax dollars?
And why are they not doing a better job of it?