Call should edit Miguel in spirit of cooperation
November 17, 2004 - To the editor:
The credentials I have to present in this letter are a long time residency and genuine concern for Crestwood.
Thus, I do not take lightly a recent column in which you labeled Alderman Jerry Miguel a grandstander, and essentially trivialized his seat on the board. In presenting facts and figures related to the issue of the defeasance cost of the $9.8 million COPS bond issue, Mr. Miguel was putting his considerable fiscal expertise to work. He was also duly representing his constituency who voted him into office with a large majority.
I find it strange that the Ward 2 aldermen dismissed his presentation as a waste of time, when obviously a waste of time and money was approving the original cost-prohibitive, stand-alone facility only to about face into an expensive and still overexpansive retrofit. Another obvious waste of time was a recent meeting in which you used 26 paragraphs to report on the "reintroduced" 24-hour convenience store request. This subject previously considered a "done deal" and the alderman who brought it up was spared your editorial critique, but was considered reprehensible by a resident in attendance.
Let me explain the citizen side of things. I wonder at what point the perpetual line of credit becomes long-term debt and why the purchase of a third fire truck while distracting us with threats of prioritizing and/or losing city services. I am incredibly with the legal costs this town continues to incur, the roughshod state of city streets, ongoing storm water problems, and the wisdom of having the police chief sitting in the city administrator's chair, especially when he surprised us by applying for a job in Florida.
I question why he suggested the position of assistant city administrator be eliminated and then hired an economic development specialist while advising he is cutting the work force to curb costs. Why he originally promoted the stand alone City Hall and Police Building and then more recently was obliged to declare the retrofit "after all, a better project for Crestwood." I wonder why so many recommendations were met with so little resistance and why the "red flag" is so often raised making an immediate vote necessary.
I personally sleep much better knowing a "state" audit was performed and I have an improved comfort level with every number that Alderman Miguel crunches. I am comforted by the fact that the city administrator is no longer the sole oversight committee.
The majority of the Board of Aldermen in Crestwood was making decisions while negative financial circumstances were incubating. Thus, new ideas at this point are completely in order, overdue and not a "relentless pursuit of a personal agenda."
The new mayor prides himself on having the total support of five aldermen. No harm here unless it prevents the venting and consideration of alternative ideas. Ostracizing a fellow alderman publicly is totally out of line. Clearly it will take eight dedicated non-biased aldermen to right the ship of Crestwood. Camaraderie would ease the voyage. As the ultimate outsider, I hope you will present more objective opinions.
In this light, I find your coverage of Crestwood informative, but it has inked a little too aggressively into personalities and not enough into favorable consequences of alternatives. Your reporting is not always impartial; your editorial slant appears to lend encouragement to rude aldermanic behavior.
I would, therefore, suggest you edit Alderman Miguel in a spirit of cooperation.
He may be the new kid on the block, but it behooves us to listen up. We have nothing to lose.
I would like to see you print a complete spreadsheet of the city budget, which would include the plant and furniture fund, car allowances, change orders and legal fees. This would include the balance of the lateral sewer insurance fund and the Aquatic Center's operating fund. The people of Crestwood expect this board to work together in an atmosphere of civility and an obvious sense of fiscal restraint.
Otherwise it would be a total disservice to presume a tax increase could right the ship. We would also hope that you and your prolific laptop consider that a more positive center on things could only lead to good things. Alderman Miguel is right: "Some things need to be put on hold until finances are in order."
Perhaps if we would have waited until that time and exercised restraint, the original plans for Detjen Drive could have happened and the plans which still include some debatable facilities would not seem ludicrous or been in contention. That is, if the streets were all up to par and we were not operating on a line of credit.