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Letter to the Editor: Piedmont Post Jan. 11 Opinion Piece

Piedmont resident Jim McCrea takes issue with an item in the Piedmont Post

As I read the January 11 issue of the Piedmont Post, I was drawn to the Opinion piece by Cameron Wolfe, Jr. I’m glad that it was called an “opinion” because it was long on opinion and virtually non-existent on fact on one of the candidates. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is famous for having coined the expression: “Everyone is entitled their own opinions, but not their own facts.” He was contesting erroneous facts;  I am concerned with a lack of facts.

Mr. Wolfe extols what he considers to be the fact-based virtues of Bob McBain and Margaret Fujikoa in their candidacy for City Council, but then proceeds to accuse Tim Rood of negativity, but without supporting facts. I do not for one minute mean to disparage any accomplishments of Mr. McBain or Ms. Fujikoa. What I am challenging is innuendo and borderline character assassination in the case of what was said about Mr. Rood.

Piedmont voters are well-read, intelligent and, from what I can see, overwhelmingly committed to ensuring a successful place in which to live and raise their families. They understand clearly that running for City Council is not the same as running for prom royalty. It is not a popularity contest. The people that the voters entrust with management of Piedmont’s future must be people with a professional attitude and a track record in management. Professionals are those who know that they need to recognize facts, not wishful thinking, and sometimes need to identify when the emperor’s clothes are a bit thin and need repairing. Hard decisions  are often required. To recognize this sometimes involve pointing out what is not going right.

Here are some facts:

  • There has been an extraordinary growth in City employee salary and fringe benefits costs.  Employee and retiree benefits are currently 53% of the City’s total salaries budget. This is up from 33% just five years ago, resulting in an additional $1.8 million in annual expenses, an amount exceeding the annual revenues from the City’s parcel tax.
  • The Municipal Tax Review Committee (MRTC) has warned that the City is on an unsustainable financial path. City reserves have fallen 50% over the past five years and the City faces a projected annual budget deficit of $2.2 million in 2017. 
  • The City Council needs to be totally transparent so that the citizens will know what is going on in City government.
  • There needs to be third party analysis of risks associated with future construction projects, so that there is not a repeat of the $2.5 million cost overrun that happened in the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding District project.

Tim Rood has raised each of these concerns during his campaign. If doing so means that he is being “negative,” then I encourage such “negativity” on the City Council. The situations facing Piedmont are some of the most critical that I have seen since moving here in 1978 and require strong, decisive fact-based decisions.

To learn more about the facts of Tim Rood’s campaign platform, go to www.TimRood2012.com.

Jim McCrea
Piedmont

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garrett Keating January 22, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Jim's letter raises a very important point for voters to consider when evaluating the candidates for City Council - which candidate will recognize the "facts" confronting Piedmont and act accordingly. As the past 4 years have shown, Council either didn't have all the facts or has been slow to respond when given facts. Council was never shown the contracts for the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding Project that lead to the city's $2.4M liability. The Municipal Tax Review Committee identified the extraordinary growth in City employee salary and fringe benefits costs and projects a budget deficit of $2.2M by 2017. Recent revelations about the Sewer Fund and proposed surcharge have brought to light facts about this program not provided to City Council. Rather than being "negative", candidates who speak directly to these issues are providing voters with a clear statement of what they will do to address these issues. Voters interested in comparing the candidates on these issues should visit the League of Women Voters website, http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/02/07/ca/alm/race/2/questions.html
David Cohen January 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Thanks to Garrett for pointing to the LWV link, which is starkly revealing. One candidate didn’t show up. A second candidate shows up with a little bit of history, a promise to continue to listen with an open mind, and some prom royalty style (thank you, Jim McCrea) hand waving. A third candidate responds to questions with six or seven forward-looking, highly detailed and informative bullet points. Check out the link in Garrett’s comment to see who is who.

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