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Public-nonprofit partnerships essential to city's future

Original post made by Skip Justman, University South, on Jul 19, 2006

Thank you for highlighting the need for public-nonprofit partnerships in your July 5 article "Friends or Foes?" This supports the fact that with the increasing cost of government, public-nonprofit partnerships are crucial for revenue enhancements and relieving the financial burden of government.


Public-nonprofit/private partnerships will relieve the financial burden for government. Government should focus their funds on infrastructure — roads, sidewalks and public safety — especially in light of the various residential break-ins in Palo Alto.


Without public-nonprofit partnerships, the services our community cherishes may soon disappear because they will be too expensive to operate. Imposing another tax and/or raising fees will not fix the problem of increasing governmental costs.


In Menlo Park, employee cost increased 27 percent while the number of full-time-equivalent jobs dropped 13 percent, and they are thinking of alternatives to help relieve the financial burden of government. At the state level, the Legislative Analyst Office estimates retiree health care liabilities to be in the range of $40 billion to $70 billion "and perhaps more."


Every citizen in California should be concerned about these increasing costs at all levels of government. In the June primary, it was clear voters do not want another tax. All the tax-increase propositions and Measure A in Santa Clara County were all voted down. At what point will increasing taxes and fees be unreasonable?


Paying taxes is not bad because it indicates a prosperous economy. The top 10 percent of California taxpayers have paid, without complaint, 71 percent of California personal income tax. These same citizens, many of whom live in Silicon Valley, have also been generous through charitable donations.


Promoting community services locally, relieving the financial burden of government, and enhancing revenue through public-nonprofit/private partnerships starts in our own communities. Sacramento will not solve our local fiscal problems.


The Junior Museum & Zoo is ripe for a public- nonprofit partnership. I have worked closely with Virginia Chang Kiraly, former president and now treasurer of the Junior Museum & Zoo (now a Republican candidate for state Assembly). She has led that organization to a point where the City Council can and should continue on the path to allow the Junior Museum & Zoo to operate as a nonprofit organization.

Comments (1)

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Posted by Ron Lee
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2006 at 9:21 pm

I'm sure Mr. Justman is well meaning but I'm afraid he is misguided as well. I was part of a public-nonprofit partnership that ran the Junior Museum from the mid 1980's to the mid 1990's. The group I joined founded the present nonprofit organization. During that period, the museum had attendance and membership that has never been matched. Our strength was in the volunteerism that resulted in new exhibits every 6 months. We were ably advised by Mr. Mearl Carson who had directed the museum for 25 years. It's ironic that the present group thinks that hiring Daren Wacs was the first "professional" designer for the museum when in fact Mr. Carson was. Incidentally, under his leadership, the museum was accredited by the American Museum Association. They lost that accreditation in 1995.

Eventually, our group moved on. Kids grow up and people move on to different challenges, such as paying for college. A new director was hired and the results of that administration is for others to judge. The point is that a private nonprofit group must demonstrate a longterm commitment to the museum, not political or personal ambition. Mr. Justman thinks his group will come in and save money. If so, have them put up a bond and manage the museum without any contribution of city funds. If they are willing to do so, I'm all for it. But if they are asking for city monies, it will become a tremendous waste. Eventually, they will lose interest and leave a larger mess than the one that presently exists.


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