Oct 16 2012

OPINION: Not a Lack of Love, But Tough Love

From a Member of Piedmont League of Women Voters Undergrounding Task Force –

Voting no on Measure Y is not about opposition to taxes or antagonism towards city government, nor is it about ingratitude for all the benefits of living in Piedmont.  I believe it’s about “tough love” — setting limits for the sake of preventing unconstructive, ultimately self- destructive behavior.  It’s sending a clear message of the need for restraint, redirection and problem solving, rather than simply reacting.   The Task Force for the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding District, which I served on, spent many hours researching and identifying the factors that contributed to this project’s $2 million dollar financial fiasco. Among these were inadequate or absent  risk management policies, insufficient oversight, lack of transparency in decision making, and lack of planning and appropriate systemic procedures for dealing with the potential problems associated with major construction projects.  If one reviews the time line of events building to that significant cost to the city and the taxpayers, one sees a sequence of “just this one time” attitudes–  repeated reactivity,  rather than thoughtful problem solving in a devolving situation, a situation which might have been avoided or minimized by planning and anticipation, and by specifying limits clearly.

What is different now? The MTRC has made recommendations regarding the necessity to balance the city budget, identify a financial plan that would handle employee costs, etc.  Similarly the Task Force made recommendations for protecting the city coffers in future projects.  Rather than incorporating most of these recommendations, the city, like an out of bounds teenager,  is reacting to an imminent budget shortfall  by renewing a parcel tax, which may provide a temporary palliation, but with likely prospects for  long term disaster. Voting no on measure Y is saying in effect that we want city governance that is accountable, that does not take its citizens’ financial support of their city for granted, and that recognizes that good governance itself must  be about generating more viable and foresighted solutions –and sometimes saying no to quick fixes.

Mary Heller, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.  The Piedmont Civic Association does not support or oppose candidates or ballot measures.

Leave a Comment