Talk is cheap and lies are expensive.
— Green Day
I’ll reserve passing judgment on the elected officials who serve this city and county, leave that to the paying customers who seem to have a firmer grasp of the supposed ineptitude.
But I will say that I don’t envy them as they meet each week to “do the people’s business” when they don’t seem to have the capacity to come close to satisfying those people. If ever any group personified the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t ethos, it’s these gluttons for punishment who somewhere along the way decided it would be a cool thing to run for this board or that.
What they found once the bright lights from the camera flashes dissipated and the welcome-aboard backslaps ended was a weary public — tired of an economy that was now reaching their pocketbooks, angry that their paved path to easy street somehow became marred with potholes — looking for someone to blame.
Who better, then, than the “bozos” who were getting paid “all that money” (if they only knew) to render decisions that determined how their hard-earned tax dollars were spent?
The rally cry of this disaffected group, which grows angrier with each presumed governmental misstep, is, “Quit throwing away my money!”
Heeding that cry, elected officials here have lately taken it to heart, looking for ways to at least try and save money and/or generate more of it. Here’s some of what they’ve done:
- OK’d a plan to close two underused library branches that were eating up dwindling system funds;
- Tentatively agreed to close two schools whose student population doesn’t warrant their continued independent operation;
- Come up with a plan to allow a taxpaying personal care home to set up shop in a city neighborhood under strict guidelines designed to protect the integrity of the neighborhood;
- Made the tough decision to stop footing a multimillion-dollar Medicare bill for senior retirees.
- For their efforts, here’s the blowback from each cost-cutting or -enhancing measure:
- Indignant citizens who live near the two library branches — but obviously didn’t care enough about them to use them that often — have accused appointed Library Board members of racial insensitivity, leading to the resignation of two members and convincing some elected county officials they should take a closer look at the decision.
- Dozens of citizens have voiced outrage over the plan to close the two schools, saying school officials should randomly close other schools in the system rather than ones that impact their neighborhoods.
- Come under the attack of a group of citizens that at first was worried about the integrity of the “only decent neighborhood left in Albany” but later demanded more time so officials could consider “zoning overlays” — there are probably two or three people around here who know what that actually means, but whatever — and study ways to make that decent neighborhood even more amazing.
- Been called out as heartless for even considering ending the costly practice of making Medicare payments for some of the city’s oldest citizens who gave years of service to the community.
For the most part, it must be noted, elected officials have cracked under the pressure of the different complaining groups, pretty much given in to demands any time an unpopular decision has confronted them. What these officials obviously haven’t been able to grasp is that the citizens they represent do want them to stop spending their tax money, to make decisions based on the greater good of the whole community ... except when it impacts them personally.
Find somewhere else to close schools and close libraries and stop payments and to allow legitimate businesses to locate. It’s OK, but — all together now — NOT IN MY BACKYARD!
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about the stinking federal Postal Service having the temerity to suggest closing an underperforming post office branch — That we use! — as a cost-cutting measure ...
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.