Last evening I was invited by a couple of the nice ladies working at City Hall to stop by and look over some of the budgetary numbers they've been working on. And I, always up for interesting new experiences, gladly accepted the opportunity. After 3 or so years of attempting to divine the mysteries of this city's curious fiscal practices through the study of old newspaper articles and arcane state websites, here I was being brought into the belly of the beast itself. What treasures would I discover? What evidence of duplicitous double-dealing with the dark forces that daily bedevil our quaint and cozy hillside lifestyles would be inadvertently revealed to me? I cautioned myself to be strong and to not let anything escape me. I brought my notebook.
But then, none of that kind of stuff happened. They were disarmingly nice and both conversant and comfortable with the information they were presenting. And distressingly logical as well, bringing up points that made me question a few of my previous bold assertions. (Something which I honestly found to be a little annoying.) They are people who work hard and seem to enjoy what they are doing. And they even acted happy at having to stay late to accommodate me.
Here's the problem with dealing with the nice ladies down at City Hall. None of what we discussed in yesterday's article (or five or six others) is really their fault. And I can't blame them for much beyond challenging my faith. Quite the contrary, we now actually know about the million dollars we didn't know about last week because they finished all those impossibly late audits and discovered that mystery money buried somewhere in 2006-07. Those audits are done, the numbers are in to Sacramento, and we're not paying $5,000 per year in fines anymore. All of this being to their credit. After all, if they hadn't completed in a year and a half what previous entire generations of City Hall employees hadn't been able to accomplish at all (apparently generations had very short life spans back then), how else would we have learned of these things?
To them it must seem as if they've wandered into that celebrated place where no good deeds go unpunished and the messengers always take the blame. Which, of course, they should. But that is a theory to be discussed at another time.
And look at it this way, if the $1,000,000 had been discovered under the old regime, you know it would have been spent long ago. At least we have it now to help defray all the new Police salary and paramedic costs.
Of course, if it wasn't for the new leadership this City has these days, perhaps the challenge to complete these audits wouldn't have been there either, right? It's a synergy thing going on here. And an example of the agony of being on the winning side, which is something your Tattler editor experiences from time to time. After all, it is our guys who are now calling the shots here. And results like this are to their credit as well.
So by the end of our conversation I had decided that I would bestow upon them perhaps the greatest distinction The Tattler is capable of, well, bestowing. So Elaine Aguilar and Karin Schnaider, congratulations. You are now honorary members of The Tattler Research Team. A heady honor to be sure. And because of our "taxation only as a last resort" stance, you will not have to pay any such thing for contributions made here. That is the kind of freedom working in a cash-free environment can bring.