Will our elected officials do the right thing this time around?
Will they be able to set aside their petty grievances, rise above the need to serve themselves first and do the right thing?
Likely not in Washington, but we’re talking the Long Beach City Council here, and early indications in the annual budget process are that they just might consider the city as a whole at least as much as they consider serving their district (thereby attempting to ensure reelection).
The first indications surprisingly came from discussions about fixing streets and sidewalks. It is surprising because streets and sidewalks are the bread and butter of district politics. Those fickle voters can put up with almost anything if the street in front of their house is pothole-free and the sidewalks aren’t crumbling away.
For years now, the council has voted themselves access to a chunk of money they like to call “divide by nine,” ostensibly for infrastructure repairs. Their rationale is that they know their districts better than anyone else, and can prioritize spending (primarily street and sidewalk repair) better than the professionals can.
You can imagine where that went in a hurry. Some council members were diligent in efforts to fix the worst problems. Others not so much. That money instead went to pet projects, occasionally being shifted all the way to paying for programs (that, at least, has to get full council approval — usually on the consent agenda).
And there still will be some divide by nine money in the 2018 budget. But the council seems to have…
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