Thursday, December 10, 2009

Free Lunch

A few weeks ago, I trashed the mayor on my radio show, after he proposed balancing the city budget for one year by selling the water and sewer systems to a private corporation.

My friend and original IT guy, Dave, will say or do anything for a laugh. So he invited me to come as his guest to the lunch hour State of The City address, to which he was invited as the mayor's IT guy. Boy, did we laugh when I accepted!

Boy, did he squirm when, for once, I remembered the date. But, manfully, he kept his promise, although he was pretty full of etiquette tips!

His plan was to hide in the back of the room so the mayor wouldn't see us. But we were caught on admission and escorted to the very front table as guests of honor. Now Dave was really not laughing.

The mayor began by lecturing us on fiscal responsibility. We shouldn't expect to get things without paying for them. We have debts to pay and we need money to pay for them.

I saw a great T-shirt in an Austin bookstore, "I don't have ADHD. It's just that.......oh, look! A bunny rabbit!"

This is Brad Cole. "We have no money to pay the police pensions. Oh, look! A grant to pay for more police for three years! Oh, boy! Let's hire three more police."

Gosh, mayor. What happens after three years? Do we fire the police? Or do we pay their salaries for the next 17 years and then their pensions until they die?

If it's so irresponsible for people to get a house mortgage that they can afford for five years, but can't afford when it resets, why is it responsible to hire 3 cops because the Federal Government gives you a three year grant?

How dare Brad Cole lecture us on fiscal responsibility while bragging in the same speech about- new roads, new police, the new SIU Saluki arena that the city is helping to pay for, the giant new police station they plan on building. (On the downtown site where they tore the old middle school down, so that they could move it outside of town and pay for busing kids from now on. Cause the Federal government gave them a grant.)

And then he bragged about the "cleanup" after the May 8th hurricane. When everybody, from the tattooed toothless tree worker I wrote about, to the most rabid right winger, to the Shawnee Green Party, clearly saw that the downed trees could be a literal windfall to the city, the mayor bragged about how many cubic tons they burned!! I believe he said it was 3 football fields worth. What a waste. And then he talked about how we had to pay for all that overtime. Really? I think they should take it out of the city manager's pay, since he gave the order to burn potential revenue. How much money went up in smoke?

The mayor likes to collect titles and awards, so he listed a few. I noticed he left out the Mother Earth News "Best Small Town You've Never Heard Of" mention last month. Guess he didn't think it would impress the Chamber of Commerce crowd.

One he did mention was the Mayor's Agreement on Climate Change. He's quite proud of that one. I think the time that really severed any hope of cordial relations between he and I was when he gave a talk about his accomplishment of signing the statement and I questioned his commitment to sustainability by pointing out that he has razed the downtown and funded sprawl along the Rt. 13 corridors. He said "I don't know what you're talking about".


I remember a Chilean immigrant asking me if the plan was to build airplane runways through the center of town. She noticed the vast wasteland but the mayor doesn't?

He did mention downtown this time though. He said he wanted private developers to come up with a plan for it. He didn't think the city should be involved in the downtown area, except to approve plans for private development.

Except for the giant police station, of course. Nothing says "welcome" to people getting off the train like a fortress of oppression next to the train stop!

Anyway, thanks for the lunch, Dave, and I hope I didn't get you fired.

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