(1/8/2013, Los Alamitos) Well, it has been a busy time since election day 2012.
For City Council watchers it has been a time of great change. In January of 2012 we had the majority of Edgar, Poe and Stephens on the dais. We had the City Attorney who had said the trash contract was legal to a “T” and we had just said goodbye to Jeff Stewart and hello to Angie Avery in her new post as City Manager.
We welcomed in the new year of 2012 with a meeting that had acrimony all over it when the City Attorney released a nine page document accusing Council Member Warren Kusumoto of committing criminal violations of the Brown Act, and a vote by the majority of Edgar, Poe and Stephens to string him up for it.
How things have changed!
What a change a year brings. Kusumoto is now the Mayor by unanimous vote. Edgar ran for higher office and was soundly trounced by a total political neophyte after dropping over $300,000 of his own money into the race. Poe decided to finally leave office (again) and Stephens lost his re-election to a man who resigned in disgrace just three and a half years earlier. This was followed by the City Attorney resigning and then the City Manager opting for retirement.
In the midst of all this there were questions about a new contract and a 9% raise based on claims that those covered by the contract had not had increasing compensation for years (proven untrue).
Maybe it’s time to take a slow deep breath and look at where we are and how we got here, clean up the various pieces of unfinished business, ask some better questions and not repeat the errors of the past.
Let’s start with the City Manager and City Attorney positions. Before we jump into filling them maybe we should look for a 90 to 120 day solution so we can gather some breathing room and give Richard Murphy a chance to get an understanding of the City from the dais rather than as one of the mosh pit based observers (like yours truly).
In addition, having a short time to regroup and consider all of our options will give the City Council a chance to determine what the real financial state of the city is (just how much do we have in reserves after you take out the committed future debt; just how much do we have in income and where does it all come from; what has been the income trajectory for the last X years and where does it look like it’s going for the next four to six; what are our current expenses and what is their trajectory; what are the longer term expenses that we don’t have covered, etc.) so we can plan and execute on financially sound ground.
In addition the 90-120 day slow down will allow the City Council to rethink what the City needs. We could have some workshops with the community and the City Council. We could do an analysis of how a successful small city like Villa Park operates so well and see what we can learn from their successes.
Since 2000 we have had a rotating door with the City Manager position. Heck in the six years that Troy Edgar has been on City Council (and remember, he is “Mr. Stability” – that’s one of the key things he promised he would bring to the City when he has run) we have gone through four City Managers and one “Administrative Services Director” who was acting as the City Manager and running the City Finance department as well. So much for the concept of stability with the system we have now. It’s clear that something needs to change.
Time to redefine Los Alamitos?
Rather than throwing another rock at Troy who has already had a bad enough last six months, It might be better to see the City take this as an opportunity to redefine Los Alamitos.
We know what we have been doing is NOT working. If it was we wouldn’t be moving on to City Manager #6 in Edgar’s year 7. So rather than doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result (the definition of insanity) let’s take the time to stop and re-organize our thoughts, consider our options and see if there is a better way to do this than to continue to do what has failed again and again.
“A lazy man’s load”
The thinking on the kid’s part is that I will only have to make one trip, so just pile it all on and do it! The reality is that not planning on things like “how will I open the door with my arms full and not drop stuff that I will have to come back and pick up anyway.” leads to you making at least one additional trip if not more.
Los Alamitos has been doing “a lazy man’s load” for a long enough time in running the city. We aren’t kids and we shouldn’t have to make the same mistakes over and over again in order to learn the lesson that with proper planning you can actually reduce the workload and accomplish your goals.
So rather than rushing headlong into another fiasco, let’s slow down the process and make sure that we touch all the bases and do a better job this time. This time let’s take the time to do it right so we won’t have to do it again.
As always, your thoughts, diplomatically and family friendly posted, are more than welcome.