Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whiplash -OR- The STooPid; Barely Cringe-worthy anymore

Being in the belly of the beast is not without its spit-take moments. Sure, you kinda get used to jaw-dropping dissociative statements untethered to any kind of reality based thinking. Still, alleged "leaders" say the damnedest things.

When served with FEDERAL supeonas by Patrick Fitzgerald's squad, my town's Mayor had this gem. "It's just a glorified FOIA request." Yep, no big deal, nothing to see here... Move along.

We fired a 27 year police veteran for calling a subordinate officer a "fucking asshole" in roll call. The resulting termination hearings circus and subsequent wrongful termination lawsuit ate a full three years off the calendar, generated six-figure legal costs, an obscene settlement amount, reinstatement and retirement with the three years added to reach full-pension.
"That's all water under the dam now."

I've mentioned the war on rental properties, one of our commissioner's "luck" at finding a contractor who did massive renovations without his knowledge or the required permits, the building department that granted the permits after the fact, without penalty or explanation, our "public" high school to which nobody with options sends their child, and our opposite world worthy catchy new slogan "Big City Access, Small Town Charm". (replacing the un-businesslike "Village With A Smile".

Our April 2007 election campaign that had the incumbent mayor boasting of a SURPLUS and balanced budget in his daily glossy mailings, then his nonchalance after victory to say "oops, my bad. It's not a $3.2 million surplus, it's a $1.8 million deficit."
Shit happens. [shrug]

Well, it's budget time again in River City. With a capital B and that rhymes with T and that stands for TAKE THAT! Our budget, which has nearly tripled under MATC's steady hand needs a cushion. The mayor feels that 20% over last year's spending is reasonable given these tough economic times. (I should take a moment to explain our form of government. This village operates under the commission form in which a mayor and four commissioners exercise legislative, quasi-judicial and administrative powers. They make the laws, they appropriate the funds and they spend the money for the 15,000 breathing life-forms calling FoPa home. This form functioned extremely well for 90 years. The last 10 have been a bit less than stellar and quite costly. The operative reality being that 3 votes beats 2 votes every time.) The four commissioners are not fully behind the 20% cushion. They say they understand the NEED for a cushion, but would prefer a smaller one. After the budget discussion was tabled, the mayor felt obligated to ejicate the audience
with a dazzling display of his salesmanship. This went on until the most obstinate council member raised the point of order that the discussion had been TABLED! Hence the mayor was out of order. After a brief reprise of Al Pacino's rant from "And Justice For All", regular order was restored. Moving ON!

The next item up for bid on the... on the agenda was the ongoing negotiation with a car dealership group who would like to keep a million dollars of sales tax revenue as a token of the village's esteem. If they don't get the million, they may have to move elsewhere. NOBODY wants THAT! The group has already been informed that their Chrysler franchise is history leaving them with only Chevrolet.
Being "reasonable" they will allow the village to retain the first $50K of revenue before their skim begins. The skim will continue on a pro-rata basis until the ransom is paid in full or the next 15 years. Whichever comes first.

What pains me most to report is that these sorts of things have become the NORM everywhere. "Everybody's doing it". If you don't think it's happening in your town, to one degree or another, you haven't been paying attention. And Yes Virginia, there is a breaking point.

The faint glimmers of hope are the aforementioned Federal supeonas and the next election in 2011. Both only slightly more plausible than the sudden emergence of Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy to provide a lesson and a conscience. My stoopid was not seeing it coming. For better and now WORSE, this is my nesting ground. I'm only slightly heartened when I talk to former neighbors who chose flight over fight. Most of them are dealing with much the same shit where they've landed with the added pleasure of even higher taxes and larger mortgages.

Fire AND rain- James Taylor... brief escape....

"Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows itll turn your head around
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line
to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground"

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