Oh, how quickly they forget
December 01, 2010 - For all their phony talk about presenting a "united front" to the community and wolfing down free breakfasts together while praising each other, there's one thing that never fails to get government folks fighting amongst themselves like rabid dogs in a meat-filled pit – money.
You see in government, money is a zero-sum game.
One entity's gain is typically another's loss.
That's why the fighting gets so savage.
Money's the lifeblood of government. Less money means less power, less prestige and less job security.
Government is dominated by people with massive egos who cannot tolerate the idea of less anything.
I'm musing about money's effect on government-types because of the debate over the $145,000 the Oxford Downtown Development Authority annually pays the village for police and DPW services (see Page 1).
Councilman Tony Albensi's comment about how the DDA's attempting to "strong-arm" the village by bidding out snow removal services currently provided by the DPW gave me a chuckle because I thought back to a meeting that took place on May 23, 2006.
It was that meeting that caused the DDA chairman, vice chair and treasurer to resign in disgust because the village council had just strong-armed them out of a bundle.
Without any input from or discussion with the DDA, council arbitrarily increased the entity's contribution for police/code enforcement services from $25,000 to $50,000 and raised its contribution for DPW services from $45,000 to $120,000.
"This body has the final say on the budget," declared George Del Vigna, who was village president at the time. "We didn't agree with all of (the DDA budget) and so we're telling you how much money you can spend and not spend."
Back then, council felt the DDA wasn't being responsible enough with its money and needed to be reined in.
Funny how that 'reining in' involved taking more money from the DDA to help beef up the village's general fund.
Ironically, four years later, council's whining because the DDA wants to do the fiscally responsible thing and shop around to see if it can get a better deal on snow removal from a private contractor.
Exactly what's wrong with getting some bids and seeing how they stack up? When did it become a capital offense to see if our tax dollars can be spent more efficiently?
What's wrong with the DDA wanting to spend less on something like snow removal, so it can spend more on economic development, promotions and increasing the downtown's walkability – all the things an effective DDA is supposed to be doing?
As long as the money's actually invested in the downtown as opposed to giving the DDA director a pay raise or hiring more staff, I've got no problem with it.
Where is it carved in stone that the DDA must get all of its services from the village?
Whenever government can get a better deal for a service or product from a private source, it should take it.
Mandating that every service be provided by costly government employees is a luxury that ultimately becomes a heavy financial burden for the taxpayers.
Last year, the village fired an employee and privatized the operation of its water treatment plant in the hopes of saving a bunch of bucks – which it did.
Why is it now viewed as "putting up a wall" against the village for the DDA to basically do the same thing by looking into privatizing downtown's snow removal?
Could it be because when the village did it, it was to save the municipality some cash, but if the DDA does it, it would mean less money for the village's coffers?
Hypocrisy, thy name is government.
NOTE: Happy 50th Birthday to OUMC Pastor Doug McMunn.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.