An opinion submitted by Tony Crawford
This has got to be an all time bad example of judgment by whomever is running this place. We are fighting tooth and nail to get a budget that everyone can live with and what do we do. We spend over $8,ooo on new furniture and carpets.
I have fought with the Commission over their decision to cut charity funding. I have been told by one that ”every penny counts.” I wonder, if indeed every penny counts, did she ever count how many pennies are in the roughly $8,200 they just spent? I find it totally incredible that during a time when all we hear is cut, cut, cut, that a purchase like this could be made.
In the last few years we have cut back on our fireworks, putting a tremendous amount of responsibility on the shop owners and taxpayers to ante the up money should we wish this tradition to continue. We have told charitable organizations we can’t afford to give them a full $25,000. These organizations not only serve the people in the city, but save the city tax dollars through their collective efforts. We had to fight tooth and nail for the Commission to approve matching money with the county as well as the Friends of the Library to basically fix up a building that we own.
We have seen the Commission throw money away on projects already in the works and give back a loan with one of the lowest interest rates in history. We have seen them slim down City Depts. as well as add top level management positions. We have seen them turn over a great share of the maintenance of ball fields to parents and volunteer’s. We have seen them bust the chops of the shrimp fest organization and threaten to take away clean up money on a festival that brings in about $8 million to the City each year.
I remember a lot of political garbage during the last election how potential candidates would help in overseeing City spending. I would say there are smart choices and down right dumb choices that go along with spending cuts.
This issue will be settled by the voters over time as Commissioners are up for re election. Many may think they are doing a fine job and many may not. That is the good part about the system we get to reevaluate their performance. Then there is the little issue that we are now at a time of negotiations with two City Unions. I honestly ask anyone with any labor experience, or common sense, does it look good to buy commissioners new chairs at this time because a few of them complained that the chairs were uncomfortable. I wonder how comfortable a fireman is in his gear climbing a ladder, or a cop is chasing a bad guy with a gun. I have attended many commission meetings, I can only speak for myself, it wasn’t the chairs that made me squirm with discomfort.
Perception is reality. I personally think this is one slap in the face to all those charities that begged for money to help our needy. It is also slap in the face to now walk into negotiations with two of the unions that put themselves on the line for us each day and try to convince them that the City has a monetary problem and that they have a responsibility to make sacrifices and help. What were they thinking? I only hope all those that have an opinion on this either way write, or call the commissioners and tell them what you think. They want our input, at least they should if they wish to be rehired.
Editor’s note: Tony Crawford moved to Fernandina Beach from New York fourteen years ago. An avid city watcher, Tony finds watching local government at work, interesting, comical, and sad.
September 30, 2013 1:00 a.m.