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Media Coverage
Letters From West County Times Readers - Stick To The Facts On Measure H
October 10, 1997


Friday, October 10, 1997
Section: Opinion
Page: A15
Column: Readers' Forum

Sometimes I find sympathy for the subject of Ron Deziel's letters that routinely slice and dice city government with an accountant's grasp of obscure facts and figures. Not so his latest letter (Times, Oct. 1) which attacked Measure H by ripping through a range of subjects from the condition of the city's infrastructure ("not falling apart") to Measure H author Alex Evans' motivations to serve on the City Council ("in it for the money").

Like other opponents of Measure H, Deziel has so few facts to bolster his position that he has turned to making them up.

Deziel flatly made up the story that I wanted residents outside of Sewer District No. 1 to help pay for its operation, and that Measure H would be the funding source. District No 1. serves approximately two-thirds of the city and is operated by the city of Richmond. The Stege Sanitary District and the West County Wastewater District serve the remainder of Richmond residents. Each of these three districts collects fees from their respective users to pay for operation. Measure H has no funds allocated to any sewer system.

Deziel went on to bash extravagant city hall expenses, including too many council seats, as an excuse to question the need for Measure H. He can't blame the size of the council on its members. In 1991, the voters had a chance to reduce the City Council to five people but rejected it.

Like any family, business venture, or, certainly, any public agency, there is waste and dysfunction in Richmond government. Is this an excuse to let the city's infrastructure go to hell? To cripple the ability of fire and police to protect our lives and property? In our own homes, would we let a broken front door or a leaky roof go unrepaired because one of the kids failed to take out the trash?

Deziel is simply repeating the ridiculous mantra of other Measure H opponents who cite some shortcoming of city government as a reason for not taking care of another critical, but unrelated, government function.

Finally, Deziel takes on the entire City Council, suggesting they are not only overpaid but also serving solely for the money. Not satisfied with the facts regarding council compensation, Deziel decides to make up a few, like the "unlimited draw down at city-owned gas pumps," and the "$50,000 yearly food budget." At first I thought perhaps I was missing an important perk, but I found out that free gas was simply a figment of Deziel's imagination. The total cost of feeding a working meal to nine City Council members who routinely meet from 5:30 to 11 p.m., or later, every Tuesday evening is less than one-twentieth that claimed by Deziel.

Those who know me also know that I am not averse to complaining about Richmond city government, but it makes no sense to me to neglect one city function because another is not working as well as it could. I don't mind debating Measure H with anyone, but let's stick to the facts.

Thomas K. Butt, FAIA