Muni — Stay the Course, Privatize or Divest
My last few posts have tried to use satire and humor concerning the stalemate between the Council and the Mayor on what is ostensibly about the the Golf Course. This post dispenses with the satire and humor.
As this issue goes well beyond the Golf course and to the core principles of governance and public interest, let me make some pointed commentary.
Fundamentally what the Council is doing is not in the broader public interest.
Not even close.
What they wish to do counters any notion of sound governance and embraces the most cynical of ploys to achieve their goals.
First, they claim that they have a right to award and authorize the Muni contract as it is a “public contract”. If so, then why do they choose to wholly ignore the requirements and provisions for responding to said public contract?
When a former council released requests for proposals in hopes of finding new people to run and “revitalize” the course, those three items were required. Merendo was not only given the least amount of support from the Golf Commission, he also did not provide any of those items.
How can you plausibly claim rights to executing a “public” contract when you intentionally disregard any due diligence on the merits of awarding the public contract? (I believe the relevant clause for the Article 78 fans is “arbitrary and capricious”.)
Second, if it is a public contract, whose interests are they serving in said contract? It’s more than clear that it is not the public. (And it’s more than clear that the grounds for this claim of the charter’s intent to expand Council power raises questions — I will address in a later post)
Third, it’s nice to see the old line that the “party does not matter in local politics” is exposed for what it is: a fairy tale. It’s even more precious to hear the party of “running things like a business” and “takers versus makers” — the Republicans and “conservatives” — totally abandon that “principle” on this issue.
Fourth, and most telling, why is no one on the Council championing how they are “protecting taxpayers” or “saving seniors” or “fiscal accountability”.
Simple: they are not. Still, I’m disappointed that this line is not being used as it’s standard operating procedure when you the taxpayer are getting , um, let’s just say, “protected”.
Plus you know when and why that meme is used — to stop initiatives going to anyone outside of their “base” : parents, kids, programs for kids, quality of life issues. On the other hand, if something benefits their base, you know how taxpayers figure into that equation. Precisely naught.
Fifth, the Council argues two sides for their actions on Muni:
a) Revenues are down due to a changing demographic with fewer golfers and fewer folks able to afford golf.
b) We cannot make any meaningful changes to counter (a) so we need to keep things as they are.
If the Council is arguing that golf is ultimately doomed and whatever we do does not matter, then the Council needs to consider divesting Muni as an asset. In other words, let’s call their bluff — if golf really is outside the demographic of the city and fewer within the existing demographic can afford it, how is that a sustainable business model?
It is not.
I never considered this position before — I think Muni is a wonderful asset to the city– but the failure in governance in preserving public interest now warrants serious consideration of options like divesting and privatizing. You cannot have it both ways: the course is destined to decline so we need to keep investing more in a downward venture and meanwhile, you the public gets no say along the way.
Couple this with the simple fact that we are incessantly told we cannot afford a range of things in this city: you can’t have smaller class sizes; you can’t have flowers; you certainly can’t have a youth rec center; you definitely can’t have parks; you can’t have your chassis shattering pothole filled streets paved; and on and bloody on.
Just pay your taxes and be content with nothing in the way of expecting any services or improvement in quality of life. Be content with nothing –we cannot afford otherwise.
But, yes oh yes, we can afford to maintain hundreds of acres for a dwindling population to play golf and yes, we can do that regardless of the financial merits. Somehow, that strikes me as misplaced priorities or nonsensical talking points or — what it really is– a bunch of rubbish to justify the Council’s actions.
Finally, if anything defines the Amsterdam Way and why things never work here that somehow work well almost everywhere else , you just need look to this saga at how things really work here.
Welcome to Amsterdam.