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Councilmember Rogers Responds to Streetwise and $ Foolish?


Here are some thoughts which you can hopefully post in your E-Forum. though we don't agree on  how to solve this problem,  I do appreciate your  continuing to help people understand the seriousness of this time bomb.


Subject: Rogers' Response on potholes: Waiting is too expensive

Richmond has a lot of problems which need fixing. Tom Butt, in his E-Forum, suggests we have the luxury of picking and choosing other problems over fixing potholes.
I disagree.


Many of our other problems we are fixing with Redevelopment money will be pretty much the same until they are fixed.


Potholes repair costs are increasing exponentially. I won't bore you with the statistics, but John Geluardi's (excellent as usual) article  details them (article is in Tom's E-Forum).
We are going to have to fix the streets sometime, it is only a question of when.

Tom rightfully suggests that the Council should do a survey to get public input.

While I agree we should (coupled with an invitation to join a free City E-Mail service where Richmond would send out notices and information) , I think there is serious evidence already that the pothole issue is serious  to the public.

When I scheduled Neighborhood Finance Committee Hearings earlier this year, Finance Director Goins and City Manager Lindsay attended. In presenting the 5 year Capital Improvement Budget, which increased the budget to fix potholes by 2 or 3 times what it had been in the past, Goins noted that they had heard the residents' comments about potholes. (Depending on the meeting , crime or potholes were clearly the highest priority items.)

After trying, unsuccessfully, to convince my colleagues for about a year to use Redevelopment money to fix potholes, I did a City wide mailing during my re-election campaign to send in a letter to the Council asking the Council to spend $5,00,000 per year on fixing potholes. Well over 300 residents sent in the letters, but the Council was not convinced. The Council also didn't support Tom Butt's proposal to schedule a study session to look at the broader issue of how to deal with the pothole problem.

It could also be argued that my coming in first in the recent Council race was a sign of the public's  agreeing with me that  we need to  take action on fixing potholes, but I think my  showing probably had more to do with my  including pictures of my son, who is simply adorable ,  on my campaign flyers.  :)

As Tom has noted, these are not perfect indicators of public sentiment, as they do not include a lot of people who don't participate. However, surveys also are deeply biased by the many people who don't participate.

The main argument against spending Redevelopment money to fix potholes was that it was supposedly illegal.

However the City has previously included $1,000,000/year in Redevelopment money to fix potholes by paving streets, and our Redevelopment outside counsel has advised us that it is legal. (By the way you may have seen a campaign hit piece against me paid for by the Richmond Firefighters making the same suggestion that my proposal was illegal, and that I knew it was illegal. It's not surprising that they didn't understand the law, as the hit piece was written by Darrell Reese, whose inability to understand what is legal resulted in him being convicted of felony tax evasion.)

Tom also suggests that I should detail which existing Redevelopment program I want to cut if I am going to advocate spending $5,000,000/ year on pothole repairs. I am not suggesting cutting already approved projects. I am suggesting that, given the problems unchecked potholes are causing us, given the exponentially higher costs of continued inaction, and given that no one else has even suggested any other serious plan, that we should prioritize $5,000,000/ year out of our Redevelopment budget, with the understanding that we won't have as much money to spend on other Redevelopment projects in coming years. Some of our spending is aimed at helping our existing residents, but much is aimed at helping to build homes so people from other cities can get a good deal on moving to Richmond. that is a luxury , given Richmond's abysmal  level of funding for vital services , that we simply can't afford.

Even if the Council did adopt my proposal, most years in the 5 year capital budget would still not have the roughly $11,000,000 per year needed to keep our streets in the same horrible condition that they are now.

Finally there are approved projects and proposed projects which will greatly increase our already rapidly increasing Redevelopment budget. 


Please feel free to share your feelings on this matter with the Council   citycouncil@intres.com   and/or with me:  Jim Rogers 510.867.5725  elirapty@aol.com