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Archive for October 29th, 2009

I attended the candidates forum at Riverfront Center. I paid particular attention to those running for aldermen, as you may expect. There was much ado about the ominous upcoming budget, holding the line, improving infrastructure, and cleaning up the city, but not a word about how we will pay for it. Cut, cut, cut… but no ideas to grow. You can only prune so far before the plant dies. “We need to be creative” is not a plan. This void of ideas in regard to growing our economy is disturbing and anything but creative.

It also seemed that even those candidates that touted their “knowledge” of government were not terribly informed. You’d think a “line-by-line review of the budget” is a new idea. It’s what we do every year. “Shared services” are buzz words that are the flavor of the day, amorphous as clouds, offered up without concrete plans, statistical data or cost/benefit analysis included. Don’t misunderstand me; I am grateful for the help we’ve received with demolition and the health trust, but I do not believe every suggestion I heard to be in the best interest of our city.

As far as the budgeting process, I hope each candidate already has begun a careful review of this year’s document. As well, it’s important to analyze past budgets, to understand the dynamics of our many departments and the needs of our constituents, and to view the budget as a policy setting tool. Fiscal responsibility must be weighed with provision of services.

I hope that our voters choose candidates that are willing to move this community forward. We need a governing body in the city that will work collaboratively with administration, that is pro-development, that is intelligent, and completely committed to carrying out the responsibilities it is given. Personal agendas and political affiliations must be set aside. Aldermen must inform themselves by reading the charter, meet regularly with my office and staff, and review materials they are given. They must hold committee meetings and be responsive to employees and residents alike. I think many people would be shocked at how little some (not all) sitting elected officials spend on city affairs beyond showing up for the TV cameras twice a month at the Council meeting. Unfortunately, there’s little media coverage of this lack of responsible commitment. If he comes to your door, query your current alderman as to his direct involvement with city hall & staff, committee attendance, and cooperation. Make sure there’s meat on the bones.

Anyway, get out and vote. It’s important. It’s a time of great challenge, but also of opportunity. We need elected officials that will capitalize on our strengths. VOTE!

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