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First Council Meeting. Part 2 (You Pay, We Spend)

Dr. Jim Gardner
Dr. Jim Gardner

Yesterday we looked at the first Council meeting of 2014. The main theme was the difference between Mayor Robinson’s promises and his achievements –

  • He promised to build more schools and lower class size and didn’t.

  • He promised to set up a traffic commission and didn’t.

  • He promised to be friendly to businesses in Lake Forest yet presided over the biggest drop in spending on our own people and businesses.

What else happened at our first Council meeting of 2014?


COUNCIL 2, PEOPLE 0

Last month the Council voted to have taxpayers pay for them to get their own luxurious iPads, and they also offered a set to their Planning Commissioner sycophants. It was thought to be a tax savings program because the money saved by not printing the paper was thought to be greater than the cost of the iPads. Then the Council voted to continue getting paper copies, wiping out any possible savings (BTW - why are the taxpayers paying for expensive iPads when there are equivalent tablets available for much less money which will still do the same job?)

This month they decided to make their lives even easier, and the lives of the Commission members, by moving to electronic filing of FPPC forms. Taxpayers will spend $10,000 per year for the next three years, and $14,000 per year thereafter, so that FPPC forms can be filed electronically. The City Clerk explained the process, but no one had any cost estimates, so it’s not clear what the savings will be. I know from personal experience that the staff time to receive and stamp FPPC forms is minimal, so it’s hard to believe that manually handling about 100 FPPC forms per year can justify the $10,000 to $14,000 annual costs.

I may be premature, but there appears to be a disturbing trend for the Council members to be feathering their own nests at the expense of the taxpayers. At this point we probably shouldn’t rush to judgment, but it demands close scrutiny going forward. Bear in mind that several of these Council members (Voigts, Robinson, Nick) describe themselves as fiscally conservative and campaigned on not wasting taxpayer money.


TAX THE PEOPLE

If the Council has been busy making their own lives better, they are going to make life worse for a few hundred people in the City. The Council voted to institute restrictive parking with ticketing in two areas. See my previous report for the details. Almost everyone is in favor of having restricted parking for 4 hours per week so that street sweepers can do a better job keeping our streets clean, but many cities do this without adding a ticketing system. Apparently in these cities the people want to keep their City looking good, and comply with the restrictions without having to be ticketed. The Council was asked to have the same high regard for our citizens as these cities have for their citizens, but the Council decided that unless they punish transgressors (that’s you and me), the system will not work. This is even more puzzling, since the areas where the restricted parking will go into effect are areas in which the residents have asked for the restrictions. This seems like a well motivated group of people and it's a shame not to give them the benefit of the doubt.

At the Council meeting I suggested that they start with posted restrictions only, and IF that didn’t work, they could add the punitive ticketing. But the Council wanted to start out with the “big stick” right away. Apparently they are hoping to pay for their iPads with the revenue from the parking tickets.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JoAnne Price January 11, 2014 at 11:58 AM
This is the same attitude as State of Ca. legislators, what's mine is mine, what's your's is mine. Even Federal legislators work on this premise. I'd hoped Lake Forest was above the Tsarist actions. I was wrong. Term limits, more citizen involvement, & we are all entitled to speak our mind on issues that affect us all. Light up the phone lines at City Hall. What do you really expect from our City?
Jim Gardner January 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Hi JoAnne. We all expect this at the federal and state level, but at the local level it is offensive. Must the Council have expensive iPads when much less expensive tablets would do just as good for their purposes? They merely are supposed to use them for receiving Council packages, not listening to music, playing games, skyping, etc. Tablets that would perform the civic functions they propose can be bought for less than 1/3 of the cost of iPads, which are top of the line because they include all sorts of bells and whistles. Nice Xmas present for the Council and Commission members, but we pay the bill.

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