You pat my back, and I’ll pat yours!

15 Mar

Every two weeks the city council gets another dose of medicine – budget updates on the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. Malfeasance Director Jennifer Hennessy is trying to break it to them slowly that we are out of money, and then they have these little confabs about how to hand the situation. These meetings are maddeningly the same – they never really come up with any solutions, they just sit wringing their hands. 

At my house we have had some financial shocks. For example – I had to get some dental work done, cause I ain’t been to the dentist in six years. My teeth were in generally good shape, except for my back molars – the ones I grind like 24-7. In fact, I’m holding my tongue between my teeth right now to keep them from grinding.

My back molars needed a little extra work – at $170 a tooth, I’d like to think of it as a weekend in the Poconos. All told, between the initial exam, the standard all-around cleaning, and the two back molars, this little adventure ran me about $650. Yeah, $90 for a 40 minute pick and scrape, that was kind of a shocker. By the time I paid all this off, I had taken a hefty broadside at my family’s budget. 

But, I have to say, my teeth were still in pretty good shape – I’ve always had trouble with those molars. When my kids were little, my dentist had me coming in four times a year, at $90 a pop – just put a bell around my neck and lead me to the barn!  When I’d see my dentist at the grocery store, I felt like saying, “Mooooo-oooo Fred!” So,  I actually saved money by not going in, contrary to the lecture I got from my hysterical hygienist, Carol. You heard me – I saved money by NOT going to the dentist. 

So, I’m going to practice the same kind of budgetary magic our Malfeasance Director, Jennifer Hennessy has taught me over the last five or six years – instead of recording the $650 as a loss,  I’m going to write off a $720 savings! 

Unfortunately the city budget is not so simple. Our city has become addicted to endless spending – it’s like heroin, and they are hooked bad. To watch these idiots try to fumble their way out of the mess they’ve made for themselves is very frustrating. It’s like watching the teenagers do all the wrong things in a slash movie. You scream at the movie screen – DON’T OPEN THE DOOR! – but they don’t hear you! 

When I sit through these discussions, I want to scream, “CUT THE CRAP!”

And the “CRAP” I’m talking about are the committees. Like the Sustainability Task Force. Linda Herman is struggling to keep this group together, to keep them on “task”, because her salary depends on it. She makes over $85,000 a year, plus benies and pension, to administer to a pack of children who can’t even make meetings. In fact, lately, Linda seems to have had trouble making the meetings:

Hi Everyone,  Fletcher called me last week concerned about the timeline that was set regarding the Sustainable Business Program.  Primarily he was concerned that the beta test businesses being contacted this week and then having Alan gone on spring break during the time when the businesses may have questions.  I know that the problem was that Fletcher and I were not at the Ad-Hoc meeting and we sincerely apologize for that.   

Right now they are working on the “Sustainable Business” program. Each member is supposed to survey local businesses, find out what they think of the checklists and “tasks” the committee has come up with – stuff like, replacing all your lightbulbs with little mercury bombs, and providing bicycles for your employees to ride across the street to have lunch. We’ll see if they do any better than the Diversity Action Committee, who had to be nagged constantly by Mom Rucker, and turned in less than 200 “surveys” in a town of over 85,000 people. 

But I notice right away, in an e-mail from committee member and Recology employee Jill Ortega, they only seem to be contacting businesses who are already on the bandwagon –  “My list includes the following: Chamber of Commerce, DCBA, Transfer Flow, Woodstock’s, Sierra Nevada Brewery, and Masie Janes.”


In fact, Ken Grossman, owner of Sierra Nevada,  is a member of the STF, regardless of the fact that he never does any work and only shows up at a few meetings a year.   This whole “Sustainable Business Program”  is really just a bunch of people sitting in a circle patting each other on the back at our expense. 

Why would Ortega choose to include failed Greenfeet owner Valerie Reddeman in her survey? You got me. “Even though her business has recently closed, I believe she can provide some valuable insight.”  Well, she’s also a member of the committee, and I’ll bet she’ll be real cooperative too. Between these two gals, they’ll come up with a favorable review of their own program, how nice.  

Neither the DCBA nor the Chamber were interested, according to Ortega, so that leaves her with nobody but the choir to preach to. By the way, Ortega is one of several garbage company employees, as well as employees from the county dump,  who are paid to sit in these committees. They tack that onto your garbage bill every month, I hope you don’t mind. 

This is how they fiddle while you are at work all day. They’re supposed to meet next Monday afternoon, but they still haven’t confirmed that yet. I’ll try to keep you posted, but if it snows over the weekend, I ain’t going. 

3 Responses to “You pat my back, and I’ll pat yours!”

  1. Rose March 16, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Juanita – it is impossible to grind your teeth while laughing. Therefore I am sending you a Portlandia (IFC network) link about plastic bags. Your teeth and tongue need a break. This is just a teaser of the actual episode which is available on-line.

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