Sunday, September 9, 2012

ER #46: Magic Numbers

City Hall Elevator Rumblings  #46

Rider #1:  I’m starting to have vertigo (illusion of movement) with all the current spin regarding the 2012-13 city of Irving budget.  The numbers are changing quicker than sheets in a Motel 6.  It is almost like revisionist-magic -- you didn’t see the bucks a few minutes ago in the budget, but now they are there to spend.  I can’t keep up with all this subterfuge.

Rider #2:  That’s for sure.  The budget presentations even change from the work sessions to the council meetings.  If you thought 3-card Monty was slick, then you haven’t seen the city manager’s sleight-of-hand in action when he is attempting to balance the budget, accommodate special interest concerns for some council members, or toe the line on previous pronouncements of not raising taxes or increasing fees utilizing his newly adopted 7-Stigma program.

Rider #1:  What makes all of this suspect is that I hear the city manager is meeting with individual council members.  Do you think there are deals being cut?  Will the city manager meet with ALL of the council members individually, or just select ones to see if he can barter a position on issues of special interest to them?  I guess we can assume that any private discussions the city manager is having with individual council members concerning the budget that the Open Meetings Act is not being violated with decisions or concessions being made or promised...absent other council member’s notification or consideration!

Rider #2:  Remember, never assume anything.  After all, this is Irving and we know that important data has been known to disappear from BlackBerrys.  Whatever is going on, the city manager and select council members must be having some intense concerns over the current state of city budget appropriations.  The word in the staff lounge is that the city manager wants to postpone the August 20th meeting and move the final budget approval to an August 27th council meeting.  I guess he needs an extra week to hide the pea for the ‘shell game’ he continues to play with the budget numbers.

Rider #1:  Well, if he were to ask me, I could balance the city budget in just four easy steps: 1) Reduce the city manager’s salary and benefits package by 50%; 2) Eliminate the recent ‘charity donation’ of $161,000++ for a “grants writing” position going to the ex-fire chief; 3) Cancel all the proposed corporate welfare payments to Dean International and the Irving Chamber of Commerce; 4) Have all the personnel responsible for the millions of dollars misspent on McDougalville and the Entertainment Center personally pay the tab while they seek other employment.  Who knows?  All of this might even allow for a reduction in ad valorem taxes for property owners.

A note from counsel: These “candid” elevator conversations have been injected with fabricated nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, adverbs, modifiers and maybe a few dangling participles….Mark Holbrook