by Wayne Lusvardi
The campaign for City Council District # 6 in Pasadena between challenger Caroyln Naber and incumbent Steve Madison sounds like the lines and plot of British writer Lewis Carroll in his story Sylvie and Bruno:
"Did you ever make real life into a drama?" said the Earl. "Now just try. I've often amused myself that way. Consider this platform as our stage…I wonder if Shakespeare had that thought in his mind," I said, "when he wrote 'All the world's a stage'?" (Chap. 22).
In the above-cited book, Sylvie aptly is the Princess of Fairyland and Bruno is a fairy child who fittingly abhors attending his lessons. Lewis Carroll’s story has two main plots: one set in the real world and the other the fantasy world of Fairyland. The drama of Lewis Carroll’s story seems to be primed to play out in the modern day Fairyland of Pasadena. Only in Pasadena, both candidates are still living in Fairyland and haven't connected with reality yet.
The two candidates for the District # 6 Council seat apparently have no campaign platforms other than to snipe at each other over Madison’s irrelevant attendance record at City Council meetings.
Carolyn Naber has framed attendance at Council meetings as the central component of her platform to unseat Madison? The State is in the early stage of budget insolvency that is going to be crammed down to local governments and school districts and this is the platform that Naber is going to run on? Hey, while Rome burned Nero fiddled.
Not to be outdone with theatrics, Madison has spent an equal sum of money for an expensive glossy mailer to refute Naber’s charges, retorting that she better fact check his attendance record, as he has one of the highest attendance records on the Council.
But who cares? What do you stand for? What kind of leadership can we expect from you when the State cuts more money from public school budgets in a city that in 2008 was sitting on an unofficial endowment of two-thirds of a billion dollars?
To add even more interest in the drama the local Tea Party has apparently endorsed Naber’s trivia platform. Naber has distanced herself from the Tea Party saying she is an independent (although reportedly a registered Republican). The Tea Party may not be interested in social issues, but they sure aren’t interested in fiscal issues either if they are going to back a candidate running on her opponent’s attendance record.
Off the top of this writer’s head, here are some possible issues for the candidates to debate in the public interest:
1. What happened to the two-thirds of a billion dollars in reserves and cash the City had on hand in 2008? Has it all be consumed? How much in bad investments did the City lose since 2008 after the national financial panic?
2. Will you (Steve Madison or Caroly Naber) urge a vote for a school parcel tax for PUSD operating costs (not buildings) if the state further cuts the state school budget, if you knew that such a cut would not result in layoffs of any core teachers?
3. Pasadena is imposing a 7.67% Utility Users Tax on residential water bills without voter approval as required under Prop 218. Would you push to put this on the ballot for voter approval?
4. The approved renovation of the Rose Bowl has a reported $12 million funding gap. How would you plug this gap? Or what other actions might you recommend so that taxpayers are not stuck with this burden? Where will the funds come from to plug this gap?
5. The MWD proposed to implement a conjunctive use project to store water in the extra capacity of the Raymond Basin? Whatever happened to this project? Why hasn’t Pasadena purchased wholesale water and replenished the Raymond Basin itself?
6. The PWP proposed a number of projects to conserve and develop local water resources before the next drought cycle. What is the status of these projects?
7. New downtown residential development is driven by state affordable housing mandates. Would you push to suspend such mandates as house prices and rents have fallen during the recession and foreclosures have risen?
8. If the State mandates higher electricity prices for Green Power will you push for exempting the portion of the electricity bills that go toward Green Power from the Utility User’s Tax? Why should Pasadenans pay more for Green Power that may reduce air pollution in Utah but not in Pasadena? Why should Pasadenans pay more for Green Power from wind and solar farms that will only reduce air pollution in remote desert areas but not in Pasadena?
The candidates for Pasadena City Council District # 6 appear to be living in the Fairyland depicted in Lewis Carroll’s book. But it is time to come back to reality. Pasadena has more serious issues to deal with than attendance records. Pasadena and District # 6 needs more than a drama queen or king to deal with their pressing issues.
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