Two letters to the editor in today’s paper (below) neatly sum up the crux of the discussion we are likely to hear at tomorrow night’s City Council meeting regarding the shuttered Fair Oaks Library.
On the one hand, the city’s recently adopted budget for the new fiscal year includes a subsidy of nearly $3.5 million for SMG, the private corporation that manages Stockton Arena, the ballpark, the Bob Hope Theatre and the Oak Park Ice Arena.
On the other hand, the Fair Oaks Library remains closed five years after the city shut it down at a moment when Stockton’s finances were heading into their death spiral.
There’s a lot more detail on the Fair Oaks issue here, here, here and here. For their part, SMG and the city also argue that the city’s subsidy more than pays for itself because the facilities managed by the corporation produce a $17.4 million economic impact for Stockton.
In any event, the two letters in today’s paper do a good job of advocating for the anti-”Circus Maximus” point of view. Here they are:
City Council’s big IOUs
As of late, the Stockton City Council and City Hall remind me of the type of friend who owes you money, hasn’t paid you, yet every time you see them in public they have new stuff.
New clothes, shiny new jewelry, new expensive shoes, even a new car (in this case a black and white gas-guzzling SUV with flashing lights). They borrowed money from you to help them through hard times and every time you see them and remind them about the money they owe you, they quickly explain how they’re going through a bankruptcy, waiting for their tax return, spent all of their paycheck on “bills,” etc.
They say, “Oh these are just one-time purchases.” This is not the first time you loaned them money, either. You’ve been fooled once (Measure W) and even though they promised this time would be different, it’s happened again (Measure A/B).
This friend does not only seem to be dishonest, but they also don’t seem to have their priorities in prudent order. They have money for concerts and ballgames (arena/ballpark), landscaping upgrades (“mission critical” Measure A spending on sprinklers), add-ons to their house (new City Hall/police headquarters), drinks out on the town at fancy restaurants (still paying for Paragary’s?), and meanwhile their kids have tattered clothes (grand jury report on south Stockton), need haircuts, shoes are too small for their feet, look like they haven’t bathed in weeks, no books for school (Fair Oaks Library), all while they accept Parent of the Year awards (All-America City).
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
City’s insipid white elephants
Stockton City Manager Kurt Wilson and staff have found, and the City Council has approved, $3,444,000 for the annual subsidy of SMG’s “Circus Maximus.”
At the same time, Wilson seems to think that spending $700,000 a year to reopen and operate the Fair Oaks Library will break the bank. A library is an investment in the future. The white elephants built by Podesto, Lewis and Co. are little more than money pit monuments to their egos.
Which would you rather have your tax dollars spent on?