“The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.” – so said our 40th president, Ronald Regan. I find myself agreeing based on the last two years of interfacing with our City Council. I have been insulted, stonewalled and ignored no matter how pleasantly or not I have come forward and presented ideas. I have been buried under residential concerns about two stories or three stories, the reimbursement arrangements for City Councilmen for travel (is it Mapquest or actual mileage?), fires, the fire station, the inclusion of “In God We Trust” in our council chambers or not, and whose street gets redone paving or sidewalks. I point out we are in one of the greatest recessions of the last fifty years and am met with silence.
I quote out of historic City Council minutes, the biannual financial report of the City, meetings with the City Manager and Mayor, complement and cajole. I try to build consensus or even get the slightest hint of support for business in public from our City Council and I am met with blank stares, vacuous expressions and stone-faced miens. Last time I checked, these were public servants – our servants. Let’s review a few key points from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2008 prepared by Administrative Services, the following statements seemed clear (emphasis added):
- Page 6 – “Community Development is comprised of Planning and Building Departments that provide planning and zoning services, economic development services and building plan check and code enforcement services.”
- Page 8 – “Actual revenues in excess of budgeted revenues were primarily due to increases in sales taxes coming in $3 million higher than budgeted partly as a result of new businesses opening in the Rossmoor Shopping Center after completion of the rehabilitation of that property.”
- Page 9 – “For the next fiscal year, property tax and sales tax revenues are projected to remain at the same level at the 2007/08 fiscal year”
The assumption that sales tax revenues remaining at the same level seems a complete fantasy as the economic condition of our nation and our community continues to erode. There is an urgent need for the City to help the business community. This is definitively part of the role of economic development as outlined in the above report. What are they doing? Nothing.
Are our needs in business of no interest to our public servants? Apparently. Is someone else going to help keep our Main Street and other centers of shopping vibrant? Nope. Will Congress or the State Legislature somehow come and rescue Seal Beach as our economy slows to a halt? Of course not. Are we going to work hand in hand, neighbor with neighbor to help preserve and grow what is in our town? Can’t we brainstorm together to help save jobs, income for residents, keep the events and the character that is our town?
I am tired of asking these questions. I am tired of looking for creative solutions. I am tired of being a lone voice for business. I ask you, my fellow citizens to come and show your support of business and ultimately our community to our “public servants” at City Council chambers on Monday March 23rd at 7 pm. Our government needs us to provide direction, for apparently they are incapable of helping a key group of constituents, the ones that are responsible for the engine of growth in our community – business.
The so called, Sage of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken, one of the greatest editors and commentators on American life tells us, “The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.” So sadly do I now agree.
Seth Eaker is the Past President of the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce and is the founder of Black Marble Consulting, LLC., a business consulting and marketing firm.