by: Diane Benjamin
How are you feeling Tari? A little stressed? How about I give you 2 minutes like you gave to each alderman to respond to the budget! You want to spend $180,000,000 and claim to have been discussing it for 9 months(a lie) and each alderman gets 2 minutes?
You crossed a new line on inappropriate rhetoric today. Below is the email you sent to Judy Stearns – while she is on vacation out of the country. What gives you the right to call her proposed cuts riddled with problems? How dare you accuse a sitting alderman of not having credible numbers? If anybody didn’t have credible numbers it was your budget that dumped $11,000,000 of new spending on the Council expecting the potted plants to say Okee-Dokee. Obviously you limited the discussion by NOT working on the budget for 9 months and now you can’t stand Alderwoman Stearns questioning the spending before increasing taxes and passing it.
Here’s a novel idea Tari: You knew the union contract wages were going to go way up. You knew the pension payments were going to go way up. What would a normal person do if their expenses were increasing? They could get a second job, or they could CUT EXPENSES elsewhere. NO normal person would go to their boss and demand a raise – but that’s what you are doing to the taxpayers of Bloomington! It’s theft Tari! You aren’t entitled to their money just because you want it.
To the readers, Alderwoman Stearns response to Tari is below.
I have spent a fair amount of time going through your budget proposed cuts (despite the fact that they may have been voted down by council).
I checked with our budget people and, where necessary, the appropriate department heads.
Frankly, I was surprised because by my investigation/analysis shows only about $1 million of your proposed cuts $5.4 million are clear and feasible (that doesn’t mean I support them, it’s that I get what you mean and it’s technically possible – I don’t agree on many such as taking $300K out of CDBG since that would seriously harm our older neighborhoods).
Anyway, it is really really important for us to have good credible numbers or otherwise we are not helping the debate.
Let me give some examples, the $285K out of Starcom 21 appears to be unwise but, it’s also infeasible. The police and fire chiefs confirm we can not have 2/3 of a radio system! Many numbers have already been cut (downtown banners) so they don’t represent anything new. Others such at the $400K for the Munis system are not even in the 2015 budget (they were appropriated years ago). Still others seem to be pulled out of thin air (a $ 1 million for outside consultants). Others don’t include relevant reductions in revenues (BCPA for example – we have to pay the debt service even if we close the place down so 1/3 subsidy reduction would have to decrease staff etc. by 2/3 or so – and that would produce less revenue). The $250K for Chicago lawyers is the same thing – do we give the unions everything they want then??
You didn’t even get the facts right on flamingos that you’ve been talking about.
The city’s cost is $150K – they already have $100K from private contributions. So, the ‘savings’ would be 150K and not 250K.
The list goes on and on.
I realize budgeting is very complicated and that we all make mistakes but your list is riddled with problems. Someone like Doug could’ve probably helped do the digging on these things before you proposed them to the public.
Let’s talk when you get the chance!
Dear Mayor Renner,
It is fair to let you know I am forwarding your email to interested citizens. Your accusations are disrespectful and wrong. I did a very considerable amount of research and would never propose a reduction in the budget that I did not research. However, they are ideas, just as we have heard ideas from many people and that does not mean that each one is a viable idea, just an attempt to do what the bond rating agencies (not me) have said we must do and that is to reduce our structural deficit and spend money on the essentials (pensions, capital expenditures) first before the “wants” that may be nice to have but are not “needs.” If we had taken the time to discuss all of the cuts and all of the retentions from each and every one of city council, we would not need to accuse or insult anyone of not doing their homework or getting their facts. Instead of a thorough discussion at the “special meeting” on April 21, we were told each of us could have two minutes for each item on the agenda and that we would be “draconian” in enforcing that. Further, my proposed “cuts” have been in your hands for some time, they were discussed at my town hall on April 9th, and other Council members have also proposed “cuts.” as well, so I am a bit confused at this 11th hour condemnation of my “cuts.” It’s unfortunate that it is suddenly necessary to denounce my ideas in an email instead of bringing this out in public, as it should be.
I am on vacation and leaving the country as you know, but when I come back on Monday I will have a complete list of my own questions for staff, and will consult with staff just as you did, and we can talk respectfully and with all of the facts obtained by both of us in the same way. Hopefully, all of my questions can be answered in full (just as yours have been) and we can get facts out for the public to see. I wish the same for other Council members, by the way, and I hope they will continue to submit their questions. I have already consulted with city employees on some things, but cannot cite my sources for that. I will have a detailed statement by Monday with many examples such as this–I think everyone is aware that the cost of the flamingo exhibit is $150,000.00 from the City and $100,000.00 from the zoo foundation, however, if the foundation got that money back, it would still benefit the zoo in some way that would benefit the city.
I am sure that you agree, the important thing is to let the public be aware and even participate in this discussion.
At the very least I think we can respectfully and civilly disagree, while both of us have the very best interest of the
City of Bloomington in mind.