The late Blues singer Bobby “Blue” Bland had a hit song titled, “You got to hurt before you heal” and that was the medicine offered to the San Bernardino City Council by some members of the community and colleagues on the council. It was common knowledge that the city was drifting toward bankruptcy for many years due to mismanagement and bad decision making from council members supported by public safety associations — especially fire. But from the action taken Monday, those days are behind the council and the city attorney’s office.
Three hours before the deadline of twelve o’clock on Monday night, the City of San Bernardino adopted a budget and passed a motion to accept the balanced budget offered them by the mayor and city manager. The motion was passed with five in favor: Virginia Marquez, Fred Shorett, Nicholas Handy, Rikke Van Johnson, Jim Mulvihill. Benito Barrios and John Valdivia voted against the budget.
Before the vote many citizens spoke against the passing of the budget because of suggested cuts in the fire department and reorganization of code enforcement and the lack of specific revenue generating ideas. Some presenters urged by firefighters used scary examples of death to citizens if the fire services are cut, with council member John Valdivia even challenging the city attorney’s office for a legal opinion of the city’s liability if the budget was passed.
I want to commend and thank Jolena Grider, senior deputy city attorney, who fought back with her opinion that it would be unwise for the council to adopt a motion to move money ($6 million) already allocated for something else to help save the closing of a fire station in his ward. Valdivia’s campaign was funded totally by the fire association and they were in full support of his orchestrated public performance on Monday even at the council.
I am not in opposition of the fire association, but during this time of financial crisis they could learn a lot from the behavior demonstrated by their counterparts at the police association who is bending over backwards to work with the city to set us on a forward moving path to get out of bankruptcy. I noticed some citizens even tossed some compliments out to the police association for cooperating.
As Mike Gallo, President of San Bernardino School Board informed the council, it is a tough decision but it is one that must be made. It is that kind of united leadership that will make it easier on all of us during this difficult time but the pain of service cuts will pass as the economy improves and once the pain subsides, the healing will take place for services restored to acceptable levels.
Mayor Carey Davis Statement
It was a difficult and painful process, but I commend and congratulate the City Council for passing this balanced budget for the 2014-15 Fiscal Year.
The Council recognized the importance of showing our creditors, voters and business owners that we are capable of managing the City of San Bernardino within our means. I am extremely grateful for the work by department heads and city staff to produce workable budgets. I also want to acknowledge the optimism throughout City Hall that this budget paves the way to take us out of bankruptcy and to better times ahead.
Fiscal health starts with budget responsibility. We will continue moving forward by working together to clean up our streets, finding creative solutions to our problems and bringing in much needed revenue.
This was a painful budget for many, but this is a major step in making the City a better place to live and work. We thank the people of San Bernardino for trusting this Council to best position us for the future.