For as long as I can recall, resident committees have been the all-contingencies solution to those problems City Hall doesn't want to deal with. At least in a direct or personal kind of way. The UUT Oversight Committee would be a good example of that. The most recent version served a dual purpose in this year's attempt to raise utility taxes by 66%. It first rubber-stamped Measure UUT, then it proclaimed that the city's campaign to get it approved was "non-partisan." Which really is a leap of faith when you consider that the very people running the city's effort will benefit personally.
So when the following was dumped by the City Council last night, it really was quite a change in the way these things are done. Kind of unprecedented, actually.
That this item was unanimously voted down is also quite a statement. Who would have thought it?
What makes this even better is now the burden of all that work, along with the political onus, shifts onto the backs of the City Manager and her staff. Rather than attempt to create through the "committee process" the myth that future tax hikes are the will of the people who will actually have to pay for them, city staff now needs to prove that they are necessary. Only then will these matters be considered by the City Council.
Meaning that if the city is going to ask for property or parcel taxes increases starting in 2018, it is the City Manager that will need to do the talking. Live and on camera. Not a committee of untrained residents desperately trying to do the right thing.
I doubt Elaine Aguilar ever wanted to be put into that position.
The Chief and His Imaginary Police Department
The other moment that stood out for me last night was Chief Giannone's report on the state of law enforcement in town. As is usually the case it centered on two things. The remarkable work the department and its officers are doing, and how response times are the fastest anywhere.
Yes, it is a small city.
If you closed your eyes you might have believed that none of the events of the last few months ever happened.
Meanwhile rumors are circulating that even more officers are planning to depart at the end of this month. Which, if true, makes the Chief's report seem even more bizarre.