City Councilman Mike Cero recommends No to Prop 1: Prop 1 condones poor budget practices.

I recommend No to Proposition 1. Don't establish the precedent that condones postponing expenses with the understanding that voters will eventually approve a Levy bail out.

In the last blog I explained how I evaluated risk to citizens in not hardening the South End Fire House to withstand a big earthquake.  In opposing Proposition 1, I also considered the risk in not replacing our Fire Rescue Truck.  The Fire Rescue Truck identified for replacement is a 16 year truck residing in a temperature controlled environment.  The truck has only 19,800 miles.  Additionally, I assure Islanders, Fire and Police equipment is maintained at a high state of readiness.  In my five years on the council, I don't recall ever pressuring safety maintenance budgets.  Even during the 2008-'09 recession, the Council did not deny vehicle maintenance funds for our Police and Fire vehicles. 

I'm not saying the Fire Rescue Truck is not needed. And I'm not saying I like the truck's light green color scheme (all fire vehicles should be red.)  I'm just saying
it's probably not worn out or with only 19,800 miles, it's not critical to replace.  Interestingly, the replacement may even be a smaller truck having less carrying capacity.  There may be a financial argument to replace the Fire Rescue Truck.  Older vehicles normally have higher  maintenance expenses than new vehicles, but this is a financial issue not a safety issue.

The Fire Rescue truck should have been financed through our City's Fire Truck Sinking Fund.  A fund developed to be funded in a predictable manner for a predictable expense. Voting for Proposition 1 condones poor budget practices.  Replacing fire trucks is an ongoing expense that should have been paid for first. In order to control spending, I recommend No to Proposition 1.  Don't establish the precedent that condones postponing expenses (kicking the can down the road) with the understanding that voters will approve a Levy bail out.  Vote no on MI Prop 1 to send the message to appropriately prioritize funding.

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Kendall Watson November 05, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Thanks Jerry. I think your blog post earlier this year and several comments this week have made that fairly clear. You have also said that you favor renovation of the current station, although according to the most recent study commissioned by the council, this would cost more than a rebuild. Do agree with the findings of the TCA study? Why or why not?
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 05, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Kendall- As to your question to me above: It makes no sense to say that building new is cheaper tha remodelling unless that's what the person or persons saying that wants- to build a new building from the ground up. There's far too much demolition and haul away cost- to add to the new structure. Jerry-
Ira B. Appelman November 06, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Hi Kendall: As you know, the City Manager always agrees with the City Council, City staff always agrees with the City Manager, and contractors always agree with whatever the City's position is OR they are fired. The list of senior staff that have been fired or forced out for disagreeing with the City Manager is long AND GROWING: Deputy City Manager Londi Lindell, City Attorney Bob Sterbank, Assistant City Manager/Parks & Rec Director Pete Mayer, Development Services Director Richard Hart, City Clerk Tina Eggers, and there may be others. The last contractor to disagree with the City was the well-respected employment lawyer Marecella Fleming Reed. In her preliminary written report she was very critical of City Manager Conrad for retaliation. She recommended, "Do not request a written report," because it would obviously be critical of the City of Mercer Island, which was paying her to do the investigation. She was immediately terminated. Instead of naively accepting the City's reports at face value, I'd like to see MIPatch investigate. The latest example of apparent retaliation is against the Paralegal. She vocally disagreed with the retaliation against Londi Lindell for which Lindell received a $1,000,000 settlement. The City Manager's budget downgrades the Paralegal's position to a half-time "legal assistant." Why not investigate that? Let's MIPatch readers see in real-time what happens to a City employee who disagrees.
Kendall Watson November 06, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Well, one could respond in the same vein that a majority of the City Council last month therefore have it in for HR Director Kryss Segle, based on Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz's inquiry into her annual salary, which is somewhere around $140,000. She was also involved in the Lindell lawsuit at several points and Lindell claimed that Segle opposed her disciplinary actions against her husband — which in turn led, according to Lindell, to a series of decisions that precipitated the lawsuit. But is that what's going on here? It remains to be seen whether or not the council majority was satisfied with the answer they got a few weeks ago on her salary. Is this subtext proof that the questioning is retaliation for the Lindell lawsuit? I don't think I've got enough to go on to prove it.
Ira B. Appelman November 06, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Lindell claimed? There's no doubt the HR Director intervened on behalf of her husband despite the "Chinese Wall" between her, as HR Director and her husband's employment. I have the documents. Don't you? The reason her salary came up (and was quickly dismissed) was because her Conrad-created "department" is so small that her salary swamps its budget. As far as I know, her salary and benefits aren't still on a list for the council to consider. If you don't believe you have enough to go on, then that's what reporting is all about. You have to get enough to go on. I don't see why you consider as similar the special treatment of the HR Director and the trashy treatment of the Paralegal (who isn't making anything near $140,000 plus benefits).


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