An old biblical proverb comes to mind when money or finances are discussed. Some say, money is the root of all evil. But in reality money can be the cause of all injurious things. Money is what makes the world go round. Money can in fact have a corrupting influence on our politicians and businesses alike we need only look to our past corporate scandal sheet.
The editorial in the paloaltoonline.com, City banks on Stanford cash for major projects falls short in any discussions on open government and transparency.
If we are going to entrust our civic leadership as our personal bankers of this money, then in light of all previous scandals there needs to be full accountability and transparency with absolutely no closed bank vault doors on any discussions.
Let’s not forget the fact that the previous city attorney Gary Baum negotiated behind closed doors a settlement with ENRON to the tune of 21 million dollars only because he felt litigation would have been to costly. There were few cities nationally which buckled under this premise.
The ENRON and City of Bell scandals should serve as a vivid reminder to all of what can go wrong with no oversight. Any decisions as to how the money should be spent should be given full public disclosure and now is not the time for the citizens of Palo Alto too remain silent if we are to experience any re-occurrence of the 21 million dollar give-away by Gary Baum and those responsible council-members.
What concerns us is that councilman Greg Scharff and now mayor has always pushed for new public safety building and with this “windfall” it just may serve as a blank check to promote his personal agenda’s and ambitions.
Anything that involves the council’s policy and services committee and or its finance committee needs to be fully transparent and the citizens fully engaged in this process. Nothing should take place behind closed doors. 21st century democracy demands this; there should be no mistaking, there’s simply too much money at stake to trust our current leadership with this responsibility.
The only way citizens can truly control and trust the essence of city managers James Keene’s notions of “methodically and cautiously” spending in any responsible way as noted in the paloaltooneline.com, is to place a watchful eye over how the money is managed or leveraged into “transformative investments” that benefits the community and not the councils special interests.