Piedmont Neighborhood News

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“Infuriating” “Bumbling” “Incompetent” “Malfeasance” “Debacle” “Brouhaha”

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 5, 2010

OK, the title of this post is a bit obtuse, but they are all words used around town to describe Piedmont’s two undergrounding districts. Both the Sea View and Piedmont Hills Undergrounding Districts are mired in controversy and costs. Unfortunately, the city is again considering spending taxpayer monies to bail out a beautification project that benefits only a handful of Piedmont residents.

Because of a large number of project management errors, “massive discrepancies” in measurements of unfinished work, “significantly miscalculated values of contract work credits”, and general mismanagement, the “staff” wants the council to approve an additional $1,150,000 in CIP funds to the PHUD private undergrounding project. This would bring the total of city taxpayer costs to over $2,154,000. That’s a whole lot of money, especially in these tough economic times. If approved, Piedmont’s CIP fund of $1.8 million is being targeted for the $1.15 million dollars of additional bailout. That pretty much empties the CIP reserves.

Next, I’d like to get you thinking about the ongoing use of the term “staff” in a vague and accountability-dodging pattern. “Staff” is intentionally used to avoid singling out individuals. I propose that the council stop referring to “staff” except in the most general terms, such as when referring to the staff as a whole. When a specific person or persons in roles of responsibility continue to make these kinds of errors, the taxpayers deserve to know the names of those individuals and their role or job title, and whether they are truly “staff” or just contractors. We pay their salaries. To do otherwise reflects poorly on the many city staff who do excellent jobs for our city. If a staff member is doing excellent work, let’s also call them out by name and recognize their good work.

Finally, I keep thinking of this quote from Network. Maybe you have too.  I’m paraphrasing Howard Beale (played by Academy Award winner Peter Finch) here:

I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust or getting huge bailouts. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my HD TV and my Superbowl Sunday commercials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and heath care and Iraq and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a Piedmonter!” So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and undergrounding, and school budget shortfalls, and Blair Park. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: [screaming at the top of his lungs] “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

I know that even if you’ve never seen the movie, you probably are feeling a bit like Howard Beale. I know I am.

(Note: the above Network quote is political parody which will hopefully at least get you to smile a bit in the midst of this undergrounding fiasco or maybe you’ll put Network in your Netflix queue. Best of all would be for you to attend the council meeting on Sat, February 6th, 11am)

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One Response to ““Infuriating” “Bumbling” “Incompetent” “Malfeasance” “Debacle” “Brouhaha””

  1. bbarnesjr said

    I just did what you suggested. I expect Piedmont’s finest to arrive any minute and we’ll see it in next week’s police blotter.

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