August 17, 2004 > Editorial Just the Facts!
Editorial Just the Facts!
By this time, local candidates for office have declared their intentions and the slates are clear. There will be a significant opportunity for change in both Fremont and Union City. In Fremont, a new mayor is a certainty and in Union City, a possibility. Along with these mayoral changes, more are slated for city councils (probably in all three cities) and, in Fremont, within high levels of the infrastructure.
Amidst these changes, looms the attempt by Fremont for a User Utility Tax. At a recent meeting of the Warm Springs Business and Community Association, dire warnings were given about the consequences of a citizen revolt at the polls. Plan "A" is the passage of the tax and some correction of a looming deficit. Plan "B" has never been explained. What are the consequences of rejection of the tax? We are promised a clear choice and yet, I have not heard the flip side of the coin, expect disaster-scaled predictions.
Choices are best made when all the facts are clear. Can another proposal for specific taxes for police and/or fire be submitted to the voters at a later time if the UUT fails? What effect will this have on the budget? Changes in council and staff are long overdue. What was good for Fremont ten years ago isn't necessarily the best medicine for issues facing a large city of 210,000 people. Micromanagement is not the answer and simply throwing out phrases of "the best and brightest" will not cover attitudes that confound and alienate the populace. A full examination of the city structure is welcome in all organizations, especially when there is ample evidence of instability.
Citizens are being asked to look to the future and help our local governments in these difficult times. We should do this, but only when clear direction and leadership has been established and these organizations have demonstrated their worth. Are citizens treated as equals by their elected representatives? Is staff courteous and efficient? Do people feel a sense of trust in the organization that is designed to represent their needs? If the answer is "yes," by all means support your city and its calls for assistance. If not, the strongest message is at the polls. The path forward is usually paved with the brick and mortar of the past. It is not realistic to drive a vehicle forward without a glance in the rear view mirror.
The face of the Tri-Cities has changed at a rapid rate. This can be a good thing if our foundation is solid and planning is designed to accommodate these changes. When housing numbers dictate or a rush to judgment on new laws overrides common sense and practical applications, we all suffer. The use of housing in any available space to accommodate mandates is not the answer. Neither is using expediency when considering the true meaning and intent of Measure T. Both need some deliberation and care when applying them to real people and real neighborhoods. When emotions overcome reason, it is time to back off and check out what is really happening, then take action. The ultimate strength of the electorate is at the polls without reference to party labels or slogans. Let the politics of Sacramento and Washington spin with party loyalties and platitudes. At the city level, these have no place. Let's judge based on the facts!