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*Editor’s note: this guest column is in response to Michael Bullington’s guest column published on June 6, titled: “The real reason for the discord on the Citrus Heights City Council”
By David Warren–
The following parable is found in Udana 6.4:
“A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: ‘We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable’. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it.
“The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, ‘This being is like a thick snake’. For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk.
“The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant, ‘is a wall’. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.”
Michael Bullington’s recent opinion piece heaped praise upon the departing city manager and three of the city council members, while criticizing “Lone Ranger Bret [Daniels] and Proud Tim [Schaefer]” for their public dissent. But just as the blind men described the elephant differently, Mr. Bullington’s experience with the city manager is not necessarily typical.
Further, the named current and past council members upon whom he heaped so much praise, are responsible for what would have been a catastrophic budget crisis but for receipt of $7 million federal rescue plan funds.
The recent increase in violence in our community can be attributed to reduction in police services caused by the abysmal fiscal planning of the city manager and council.
The city’s incorporation fiscal forecast set forth significant budget deficits in the final years before the county ceased receiving local property tax revenues. The current and past city manager and council members knew this, yet failed to maintain sufficient reserves to carry the city through these troubling financial years. Instead, the city spent its reserve to purchase the city hall for cash.
Based upon prior publications, Mr. Bullington is surely familiar with Genesis 41:1-45. Unfortunately, the city council members failed to retain city managers endowed with similar wisdom to prepare for our financial crisis.
The city manager’s recent budget failed to fully fund more than 30 positions at the Citrus Heights Police Department, at the very time that hiring and retaining experienced police staff is most difficult due to the current political and social environment. Other municipal staff vacancies have increased employee works loads without increased compensation.
Yet, the City Council retained the city manager at his prior base salary rate (more than $120 per hour) as an interim city manager, at the same time he receives his overly generous pension payments based upon his prior exorbitant salary of almost $500,000 per year.
It is a good thing that Mr. Bullington had good relations with the city manager. However, many residents did not have similar experiences. Based upon both personal and anecdotally reported interactions, those who agreed with the city manager report excellent experiences, while those that disagreed with him did not. The same can be said about some of the city council members.
All residents should be focused upon the fact that the city currently has insufficient funds to repair and maintain our streets and sidewalks, fully staff our police department, and provide sufficient municipal staff to properly operate the city. If one were to include nothing more than the unfunded municipal repairs as a debt on the city’s balance sheet, simply put, the city would be insolvent, even after receipt of the federal rescue money.
In that the voters rejected a tax increase; the city council should immediately replace the misspent municipal reserve to fully staff the Police Department moving forward as well as move forward with municipal repairs. That is a more pressing matter than where to place a bicycle trail.
Public discourse requires that we maintain a level of civility. As a resident who has experienced criminal acts since the most recent events in the middle east, it should be as important to you as it is to me that the City Council replace the city manager ASAP and address the city’s budget deficit to assure that we never have to say “de ja vu again.”
If nothing else, the City Council must stop the gun battles on our streets by making sure that there are sufficient police on patrol. We all should demand answers and results and stop denigrating “juvenile name calling.”
David Warren is a Citrus Heights resident and legislative advocate at the State Capitol with Taxpayers for Public Safety, and can be reached at [email protected]
*The Sentinel welcomes guest commentary from residents about local issues. Submit a letter to the editor or opinion column for publication: Click here
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