Friday, May 14, 2010

Local Rant

Why, when draconian financial cuts are necessary in the state of California, are we considering (and paying consultants to consider) multi million-dollar projects for soccer fields in Pasadena and library expansion in Altadena?

Sweet little children came to my door to promote a property tax increase, a measure which failed by the way, saying “Please vote yes so we can have school books and pencils,” and so, ok, I voted yes. Yet, when things are so bad that kids go shilling, we’ve got $21 million to expand our pretty little library (a place which is darned empty in the book aisles, I might add). Or now they say with fiscal responsibility, that tag can be cut in half – so it’s give or take $11 million. And then how many millions for the athletic fields and parking lots at Haha?

If this money was allocated a few years ago -- to plant structures on open space, build underground parking lots, and the like, when we were all drinking champagne from chandeliers -- can we bring it back to the table and count up what's left? At least before the consultants gulp it down?

I’m no wizard with a budget, but I do know the difference between salad days and soup kitchens. And before the powers-that-be start excavating the current library, they might want to check in with at least three of the homeless men camped outside.

22 comments:

  1. That's a fine and fitting reason for a rant, KB. And they really sent the kids out shilling? What the ...

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  2. That's a great rant! Why can't cities run their finances like prudent housewives? If there's not enough income, stop spending. Put spare money in a jam jar and spend it when there's enough to pay for the project. Don't go ahead with nice-to-have projects for which there's no money now. But they can't do that because some accountants, somewhere, a long time ago, probably in another country, devised a topsy-turvy system for running budgets that everyone goes along with. But correct me if I'm wrong.

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  3. My boss used to call it 'the color of money'. Some monies can only be spent on salaries, and when that color of money runs out, you CANNOT steal the other color of money to supplement. So whenever I see hoards of $$ spent on adding two inches of curb to unused sidewalks, I do wonder "So, what color was that money?" (My boss did not mean it as a racist tone - I hope it does not come across that way. Her boss called it the 'smell of the money - how does this money smell?')

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  4. A little common sense would be refreshing.

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  5. I pray that among all these words & question marks will come forth the answer & exclamation marks. Preferably before spring ends.

    Now, I gotta go: gonna have a soup & salad 2day.

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  6. Champagne hangovers are a bitch...funny how personal pain get's everyone sounding like a conservative.

    You ain't throwin' out the berets, are ya?

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  7. Sorry, friend. This has nothing to do with liberals vs conservatives. Just the way money gets put in silos, a practice that has been around for decades.

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  8. Shell, the kids around here have been shilling for quite some time. They have to sell magazines, candy and crappy wrapping paper just to get athletic uniforms or go on field trips. Not to mention buy library books.

    Some money got allocated some years ago by some law, so now by law we have to spend it. Or something. But don't freak out about Hahmongna just yet. City Council rescheduled that until June 7th. There's a good chance we can get that money re-allocated, with the fact that the Hahamongna Advisory Committee doesn't want the athletic fields and the fact that the money for building them is hard to come by right about now. I got fooled by some folks who should have known better (who thanked me privately for a ranting blog post but didn't have the guts to do so publicly). But your point is well taken.

    And excuse me, but I was at the Altadena Library today and they were having a HUGE SALE. They were selling thousands of books dirt cheap. The volunteers spoke in woeful terms about the library's dire need. Selling off all the books may explain why the library's aisles are empty, but it doesn't explain the $21 million expansion you mention.

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  9. Nice specifics and nice closer. One of the good things about the current economic situation might be the light it shines on public and private equality of incompetence and corruption. Ditto for individual households and large institutions. Apparently not spending what you don't have is too complex a notion for all concerned.

    Love Brenda's anecdote. Absurdity reigns.

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  10. Just wanted to set the record straight on a couple things. The books sold by the Friends of the Library are, for the most part, donated by community members. The collection may (don't know for sure)include a few books from the library because every year librarians must make difficult decisions about which books to take off the shelves to make room for new books. (This never occurred to me until a librarian friend described the painful process.)

    Also, the big fund-raising arm for the library's renovation and expansion is the Altadena Library Foundation, a 501C3.

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  12. Thank you, Susan. I'm glad to know it. I got some wonderful books but there was a disproportionate amount of Stephen King. And don't get me wrong, I want libraries to have funding. But after hearing all the volunteers speak so sadly about the library's need, I was surprised to read about $21 million coming in. Can this really be true?

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  13. Thanks for the info Susan, Petrea. P, I meant the aisles were empty of people, not books.

    You know what else puzzles me? We in Altadena voted to increase prop taxes some time after I moved here in order keep the library open its usual hours (or something like that). What kind of increased costs in maintenance alone would come from the $11-$21 million expansion?

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  14. $21 million in 2010 probably isn't even worth $2.1 mil in 1910.

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  15. There's a "rant" in every "grant."

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  16. Can I put on my feminist hat? I think that when projects/budgetary items/etc are gendered female (eg teaching little girls) they are given short shrift. When projects/budgetary items/etc are gendered male (eg constructing big buildings and using big tractor type things) they are privileged.

    wv: ingumpen. As in, ingumpen to you!

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  17. Consulting - If you're not a part of the solution,there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

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