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Is it Time to Clean House at City Hall?--7/10/08 PDF Print

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Is it Time to Clean House at City Hall?

By Sam Kurshan

July 10, 2008


This is a copy of a letter I sent to The Mayor, City Manager, City Attorney, and City Council Members today:


As painful as it is for me to have to admit, (especially as someone who goes to every Council meeting to the extent of being perceived as compulsive,) I can not recall a meeting in the longest time that has disappointed me as much as last nights meeting did. Additionally, I can not recall when I was as embarrassed as a result of my feeling that this council was as big a disgrace as it made of itself last night.


For a few weeks, (ever since the bankruptcy was unanimously voted on,) I thought the Council had come together and was finally making decisions as a group, for the good of and which represented all of, the citizens of Vallejo.


But after witnessing the pissing match at last night's Council meeting first hand, I am frustrated and confused.

Perhaps it is because I am so embroiled in the process of attending every week that until last night I lost sight of what is really going on there.


This council appears to be like an asteroid, aimlessly floating in space with no charted course or destination.


If the Council continues to fail to take direction from the real life experiences of the citizenry as they are related to them, then they need to step aside voluntarily or face being swept out of office in what ever legal method is available, not excluding recalling them.


If the City Manager continues to silently sit through every Council meeting, perhaps we can do better.


The only persons who week after week are demonstrating any kind of consistent leadership, through the presentation of probing questions, intelligent challenges and fresh ideas are Mayor Davis (whom I did not vote for but who has earned my loyal support and respect), Council Member Schively and Council Member Gomes.


Everyone else on the dais is dead wood.


How long have we heard of the nightmares the building department has caused for new as well as existing business and home owners?  Delays in obtaining permits, failure to schedule timely inspections that coordinate with contractors and subcontractors, signing off on work done correctly only to come back and say it was done incorrectly, causing an enormous loss of time and money in order for the client to fall into compliance. There are countless stories of their ineptitude in addition to the arrogant, unfriendly disrespectful attitudes of staff when interacting with clients in person at the counter and over the telephone.


No more study sessions or thirty day reports on how to change this. The problem is a combination of the arrogance of refusing to admit improvement is necessary coupled with the apathy and complacency that comes with years of doing business as usual.


I say the solution is to clean house in the building department all the way up to and including the heads of public works and replace all of them with people who have fresh ideas and the energy and stamina to think out side the box in order to implement them and see them through.


How much longer is the city going to let Lennar take it for the ride of its life concerning the redevelopment of Mare Island and their failure to come up with any concrete plan that addresses commercial development there which includes the reuse of the dry docks for maritime purposes? How many examples of Lennar's failures is the city going to have to hear about and read about before they realize Lennar is only looking out for Lennar's benefit and no one else's?


How many times and how many voices will make a difference in convincing the city to take absolute control of Mare Island's future away from Lennar?


No more study sessions, no more procrastinating. It is time for action. Mare Island holds the key to our economic rebirth and revitalization. We have nothing even close on the horizon in the form of any other viable plan to regenerate revenue for Vallejo on as large a scale as the potential of the Maritime reuse of Mare Island holds.  


The other side of the coin is the apathy the citizens of Vallejo display, but at this moment I am finally beginning to understand why it exists. It is because of the history of being disappointed and let down by their city leaders and the city departments. The citizens have given up for the most part except for a small handful of newcomers with energy and a few die hard old timers whose love for the city has yet to turn to disgust.


This energy is not enough though, if the powers that be are not listening for any of the reasons I illustrated. It is wasted energy.


I sincerely believe, the only way as I mentioned, is a changing of the guard at all of the levels I spoke of. The old way is not working.


It truly is time for a change.


Thank you and God bless you.


Sam Kurshan