June 30, 2009

On flower pots and libraries

My city, like many other municipalities these days, has a bit of a budget crunch. Expenses exceed income and so cuts must be made. One of the first things my city cut was the flower pots that decorate major intersections in the summers. To me, that seems like a reasonable cut. Yes, the flowers are beautiful. But they cost $20,000 per year (including water and labor costs). And at the same time, our library is struggling with its budget and has a hiring freeze, even with several open positions. In my opinion, if you've got an underfunded library it's not wise to spend taxpayer money on flowers.

In the end, the Rotary Club took up the cause and donated money for the planters. Wonderful, I say. We get to keep the flowers without spending very much city money on them. They are still watered and tended by city workers who have been reassigned from jobs like weeding and picking up litter, but the bulk of the expense has been shouldered by the Rotary Club and private citizens.

However, (you knew there was a however coming, right?) I am a bit concerned about the attitudes of my fellow citizens on this. Clearly, not everyone shares my priorities. A sampling of the comments left on the various stories about these flowers:

Rotarians show the city what matters, even if its just flowers. Seems that the city needs a clue on what matters. Hurrah for community volunteers!

Yes, hurrah for community volunteers. But I'm thinking that the cutting of these pots from the city budget is a sign that the city DOES have a clue what matters.

Talk about out of touch with your citizens. Broomfield needs to listen to its citizens and find a way to put this in the budget.

As a citizen of Broomfield, I will support putting this back in the budget when we can fully fund our library, not before.

Eliminate a couple of part time positions and you've got your money. It's all about priorities.

When a city government prioritizes protecting it's own staff versus providing for the town, somethings wrong. The core mission of a city government should be to provide services. It's core mission is not to protect a job or two.

If the city was flush with cash, sure I could get on board with this. But we're NOT. And yes, the city government should provide services. Like, oh, I don't know....a staffed LIBRARY? Flowers are not a service, they are a nicety. When our family budget is in a crunch, the niceties are what get jettisoned first. And really? In this economy you put more value on some flower pots at intersections than you do on keeping people employed and off the public assistance rolls? Hmm.

June 10, 2009

Time to stop and smell the roses....or clematis

Originally uploaded by jentifred
Just sharing a few pictures from the garden tonight. The light this evening was great for photos. And for just sitting on the front porch enjoying a little bit of nature.

June 4, 2009

We spent taxpayer money on what?

I ran across this little news item today: "Jeffco health department changes name."
The name, Jefferson County Public Health, came from a strategic-planning process that involved focus groups and other assessments.
We needed a strategic-planning process and focus groups for this? Seriously?

June 2, 2009

There's a land that I see, where the children are free...

When I was a kid, I listened to the "Free to Be... You and Me" album incessantly. We had it on vinyl (not 8-track!) and I probably came close to wearing it out. At the time, I didn't really care for the track "William's Doll". The chorus of "A doll! A doll! William wants a doll!" grated on my nerves--actually, it still does. But the song tells a story that I think is really important. William is a 5 year old boy who wants a doll. Unfortunately, everyone seems to think that this is a terrible thing for a little boy to want. His dad gets him all sorts of sports equipment instead, which he also enjoys, but he still craves that doll. Finally, Grandma hears about this and gives him a doll.

We have come pretty far since 1972 when the album came out. Girls do hear more that they can be tough or do "male" jobs. But I think we're still mostly ignoring the flip side of that, which is that it's okay for boys to show their nurturing side. What's wrong with a boy playing with a doll, really? Nothing. And yet so many people who happily let their daughters play with Tonka trucks are horrified at the thought of letting their sons push a baby doll in a toy stroller.

I play this song for my kids whenever possible. And my 3 year old son? He's way more into dolls than my 5 year old daughter has ever been.

June 1, 2009

To the driver on I-70 yesterday

Might I suggest that if you are hauling two kayaks on top of your old Subaru station wagon, then perhaps the fast lane is NOT where you belong?