By Steve Levy
Tough Choices for WhomUploaded: Jan 11, 2012
City councils in Palo Alto and across the state are beginning to face yet another tough budget year with revenues recovering, but slowly, and retirement costs increasing despite recent success in Palo Alto and elsewhere in addressing salary and benefit costs. And Palo Alto will also face decisions this year on the recommendations of the infrastructure commission.
So it could be a year of making tough choices but tough choices for
Town Square is full of pleas for the Palo Alto council and residents to make "tough choices" but their pleas need a plain English translation because they don't mean what "tough choices" means to me. Here is my translation
Making tough choices
Translation: Please cut programs I don't like. This call often occurs in cases as the recent infrastructure commission report that raises the possibility of asking voters to fund new infrastructure projects. What "make tough choices" rarely if ever means on Town Square is make choices that are tough for the poster.
Do away with "niche programs" of "flavor of the day" spending
Translation: Please cut programs I don't like. This call often occurs in cases as the recent infrastructure commission report that raises the possibility of asking voters to fund new infrastructure projects. Note that these programs have been approved by the Council or by a majority of voters and are never programs favored by the posters themselves.
We have to prioritize
Translation: Please cut programs I don't like. This call often occurs in cases as the recent infrastructure commission report that raises the possibility of asking voters to fund new infrastructure projects. Despite the fact that virtually all posters on the infrastructure threads favor public safety and infrastructure as their top priorities, not one offered to pay for their top priority. Rather they asked offers to sacrifice rather than actually pay for what they said was important to them. That seems "convenient" to me and hardly a tough choice for the posters.
We must live within our means
Translation: If the city needs to spend more, please cut programs I don't like to make money available. Living within our means makes sense for individuals (most of the time) but for public agencies these same residents can choose to cut private spending to make room for more public spending. This may not be the preference of posters as is their right, but it is "living within our means". And it brings forth the true meaning of setting priorities and making tough choices.
To me a tough choice is one that has implications for me. So I would favor some reduction in Social Security and Medicare benefits or the growth of benefits for individuals with above average incomes.
In Palo Alto tough choices means that I favor paying my share of additional taxes for additional spending that I favor. Making tough choices does not, for me, mean asking someone else to pay but not me.
Question for readers
What tough choices do you favor in Palo Alto or the nation that are actually tough for you?