WPRA President’s Message from the Winter 2019 Newsletter.
As I bask in the sun on this glorious Pasadena January day (I’m writing this before then, but it’s pretty much guaranteed, right?), I suggest we take a little time to think about why we should be grateful: Namely, we have a city government that’s pretty well scaled and responsive to what we need. The Goldilocks principle; just right.
Whatever you think of our local elected officials, individually or collectively, they spend far more hours and effort on these “part-time” jobs that take them away from their families and day jobs, than we could ever afford to pay them for.
Whatever you thought or however you voted on the city sales tax measure, it took a lot of courage and expenditure of political and personal capital to propose and advocate for it, or to oppose it.
Fortunately, we don’t have the cutthroat, uncompromising, demeaning, destructive politics we’ve seen all too often on the national level. We also don’t have a culture of corruption like some cities. We won’t have to comb the rubble of Pasadena’s governance and social systems to find enough bricks to rebuild. We’ll take a little credit here at WPRA. We like to think we weigh in thoughtfully on important issues – but there are many more people working hard for the “Pasadena Way.” When I worked for a city council of, well, a really big city in this county, while public testimony was directed to councilmembers, they often were chatting, eating, reading the paper, dozing off or absent. And public “testimony” included shouted vulgarities. We don’t have that here – both councilmembers and speakers tend to be respectful and attentive.
Government has different imperatives than the private sector. Rather than being driven by profit, government provides services and protection. You can’t make a profit on those – they have to be judged on a different scale. Of course, governments sometimes make mistakes and misallocate resources, and we must work to minimize those situations. But if you think the private sector has all the answers … I give you Lehman Brothers, WorldCom, Enron, Sears, WaMu, Toys-RUs, the Pontiac Aztec, “New Coke,” Deepwater Horizon and our very own IndyMac.
So, if you run into your district’s councilmember, or a city staffer, or police officers or firefighters, smile and say “thanks.” It’ll make both of your days. Happy New Year!
P.S. Congratulations to new Pasadena Police Department chief, John Perez. He is a 33- year veteran of the department and has led the department as interim chief since last April, when his predecessor, Phillip Sanchez, retired. We hope Chief Perez will be able to attend a WPRA board meeting this year to share his approach to policing and, more specifically, how he’ll deal with, among other issues, city crime and budget challenges.
Dan Beal firstname.lastname@example.org