Saturday, December 14, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 41
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Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on April 9th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 6

Birds on a perch

Lompoc city residents need to clean out their bird cages

By RON FINK

The Santa Maria Sun has a Canary whose opinions grace the paper each week, but this bird is not alone. Preening as she does and chirping away, the Canary is a piker when compared to the avian trio that perch on the dais during Lompoc City Council meetings.

One citizen recently complained during a council meeting that our city has lots of pigeons making their messes all over town.

Three of them were elected to the City Council and have been making a mess of City Hall ever since. They would like the title of “wise old owls,” but their antics are more like gooney birds as they frequently join in the coop outside City Hall to plan their next drop. Then they perch on the dais waiting for their next target to arrive.

As most flocks do, they have a leader; he claims to know everything there is to know about government finance and how to execute the oversight duties of elected officials. His heavy-handed tactics and use of faulty facts to support his agenda have the other two birds mesmerized as they occasionally ruffle their feathers or are simply seen cooing in agreement during council discussions.

The three forage around City Hall looking for bits and pieces of data and then deposit their waste without regard to where it falls. It sometimes gets messy as they strut around looking for their next prey.

In the aerospace industry, we had a personnel term called “turbidity,” which described the ebb and flow of hands-on workers and engineers. The term applied to people who move from job to job throughout their working life as well as the vacancies that occur due to retirement. It is a normal and healthy way for employees to improve their compensation and for business or government to freshen their workforce.

But over the last couple of years in Lompoc, the turbidity among senior staff is at an unusually high rate, why?

The first major casualty occurred when the trio plopped on a well-respected fire chief because he proposed relocating a fire station that had been built as a “temporary” fire station 30 years earlier. He also wanted to update the emergency operations center, which is woefully inadequate. So, he had to go.

Their next prey was the deputy city manager and economic development director; she was blamed for derailing a favored project of the trio when the reality was that the federal agency responsible for funding the property where the project was being proposed had nixed it. Plop, another casualty.

Then when a former city manager challenged the veracity of the bird band leaders’ fantasy facts during the 2017-19 budget discussion, they took aim; plop another big loss to the city management team.

Next was the police chief; his “crime” was to challenge a proposal to allow unlimited sales of cannabis in the city. He simply stated that his experience as the head of the cannabis enforcement effort in Portland, Oregon, told him that we were headed for trouble if we didn’t limit the number of outlets in the city and create manageable regulations for home growth.

The trio’s answer—reduce police department staffing. But his biggest sin may have been how he managed the carry concealed weapons program; the denial of some permits was unsatisfactory. Plop, another loss.

Now there is a renewed effort to “balance the budget” without allowing voters to weigh in on the matter. Once again, using faulty “facts,” the head brain in the bird trio tried to convince people that only he knew how to finance the city. Sensing that the trio would continue pushing their false narrative, the community development director left for a better position.

The public works director had looked at the proposed numbers for his department and quickly fled for a job closer to where he and his family live, that had fewer headaches and paid more money; another loss to our struggling city.

Several lower-level employees have chosen to retire early or leave the city of Lompoc for other employment because they sense their positions may be cut anyway so they’ll beat the rush for the exits.

Turnover in Lompoc city government has reached an all-time high. It has begun to impact the city manager’s ability to provide basic services to the community.

For example, I am told that one proposal is to cut six more police officers and eliminate staffing for the fire department rescue crew. Both moves have been encouraged from the pigeon perch as they hunt other prey. Loss of the officers and a fire department resource that responded to more than 500 calls for service alone last year, when both other units were busy, is totally irresponsible. Response to those calls, including heart attacks and traumatic injuries, would have been delayed without this crew.

But pigeons seeking another target rarely think about the consequences of their actions. And, unlike the Sun’s Canary, who only comments on the outcome of political decisions, these birds are making those decisions.

To illustrate, the last two city managers have proposed placing a temporary sales tax before voters to overcome revenue shortfalls. Plop, plop, plop, the trio rejected that idea and refuse to allow citizens the right to vote. Thus, they targeted the entire population of the city and don’t even care about the impact on public safety or the quality of life for the people they serve.

The pigeon coop needs to be cleaned out.

 

Ron Fink writes to the Sun from Lompoc. Send comments through the editor at clanham@santamariasun.com or write a letter to the editor and email it to letters@santamariasun.com.




Weekly Poll
What do you think of Santa Maria's decision to approve a public art master plan, without a fee to fund projects?

It's pointless. Why approve a plan without a way to pay for it?
It's great. It would be unfair to add an art fee to development permits.
I'd rather the city focus on issues more important than public art.
The city would feel more vibrant and walkable with additional public art.

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