Thousand Oaks City Council spends recklessly. It voted 5-0 to send the city’s trash-hauling contract to open bid. Good news for lower rates until you read further.
Council approved $200,000 for the “city staff to work with a consultant to write the request for proposals and the system the city will use to select a service provider.”
Holy cow Batman, that is a lot of money for a proposal. Is the consultant working overtime on this proposal? Put into perspective, $200,000 is more than double the annual gross income of the majority of city residents. City management, please justify this number.
The city softens the consultant price tag by saying “($200,000) is typically reimbursed by the company winning the bidding process.” Not true. The company winning the bid is not paying for the consultants fee, the Thousand Oaks residents are. The bid will price in the consultants costs ($200,000) which the consumer ultimately pays through higher trash pickup fees. Absent the high consultant fee, the bid amounts would be lower.
Also, the city should move away from a 15 year agreement which chases competition out and raises rates. A three year bid renewal is reasonable. It will keep competition interested, remain in the area and compete for our business. Previous request for proposal can be used for future bids reducing consultant fees.
As General McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne Divisions famous single-word reply when he was surrounded at Bastonge by the Germans during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, and was given a surrender ultimatum. He responded with “NUTS!”
To the city council and managers, $200,000 for consultant fees to write a proposal – NUTS!
A recent report from the Ventura County grand jury says that “without major, immediate changes, Ventura’s water shortages will be at a scary level within five years.” The report concluded that cities must address water needs. “Ventura County may have survived the worst of the state’s drought but . . . several cities rely too much on imported water and haven’t developed plans for an emergency water shortage.”
It’s clear that our cities need to address the issue because Sacramento legislature is not. Ventura County cities are on their own to solve this one.
Doing back-of-envelope calculations reveal a creative, economically viable solution including a continuous infrastructure revenue stream:
Calleguas Municipal Water District, which supplies the drinking water for Thousand Oaks and most of Ventura County, purchases annually 87,541 acrefeet of water, costing $82.5 million, from the Metropolitan Water District. After conventional water treatment, Calleguas distributes the drinking water to the city and county.
An innovative solution to consider, making the county less dependent on imported water, is to redirect the ultra-pure effluent back to Calleguas for reuse. It would save $11.4 million dollars for the Thousand Oaks resident which will lower the average homeowner $600 annually.
The result is for Thousand Oaks to become less dependent on imported water in Los Angeles, for Central Valley farmers to have more water, and having a continual revenue stream to maintain water and wastewater systems without raising rates or floating construction bonds.
Walking the streets of Thousand Oaks, many of my favorite business are closed due to Covid-19. Many are businesses that will never open again. The lives of both employee and business owner have been changed directly and indirectly due to Covid-19.
Policy maker decisions regarding the pandemic are decided at the county and state public health levels. The city council does not have a role in the decision process of preventative practices versus the reopening of local businesses. What the city can do to ease the blow to our economy and help business owners and their employees is expedite request for outdoor permits for activities like restaurants, hair stylists, gyms, martial arts studios, etc.
The city’s main revenue source to operate is sales taxes. Store closure due to Covid-19 and Run-a-Way business out of the city will reduce revenue to provide services. We must make the city business friendly and attract business like bio-tech and biomedical industry to the Conejo Valley. We must eliminate needless and duplicated job-killing government regulations which is a hidden tax for consumers.
There are many challenges facing the city. With the drop-off of business and flow of money in our local economy, fiscal crisis is looming on the horizon. We can weather the storm brewing but it will take leadership from someone with 30 years of business background running successful businesses, a Master’s Degree in business administration, and creative, out-of-the-box problem solving skills.
We are fortunate to have a very responsive police department with officers who are appreciated by the people of Thousand Oaks. The police know how much we value their service to us. That appreciation is reciprocated by the officers who keep our city safe.
As a retired LAPD reserve police officer, I am committed to law and order, NOT looting and rioting.
My recommendations to address the root of issues facing us today regarding law enforcement abuse of power are as follows:
1. Officers are to be trained to de-escalate situations as the first option, not a show of force. This training begins in the police academy and continues through their careers.
2. Remove the primary barrier to removing bad cops – Police Unions, which protect bad officers that should be removed. The fellow officers know who the bad cops are but their hands are tied by the union who keeps the bad cop on the job. Pierce the police union’s protective shield and much will change for the better.
Strengthen public safety by stopping the return of criminals back into our communities who continue their crime spree and retaliation against those who cooperated with the police. We want our community to be safe for all residents. Embrace and place smart technology throughout the city, especially the downtown area. Such technology is a force multiplier by capturing the strengths of technology to increase public safety.
Big money developers have contributed heavily to the campaigns of those running for re-election. The developers want to push through major building projects which will change the city’s personality and appeal forever. Development must preserve the look and feel that brought us here and what we cherish. I am pro-business and pro-development, however, I do not want Thousand Oaks to become Sherman Oaks. This happened in Goleta, CA, just north of Santa Barbara. Big money came in and were able to get their people elected to city council and approved massive building projects. Goleta residents are unhappy with what happened and can never go back.
Develop a downtown plan that makes sense for traffic, parking, congestion, business and the community. Encourage commerce and visitors to our wonderful city by completing an intelligent down-town development. It should have adequate parking so visitors will not be forced to park on our neighborhood streets surrounding the down-town area.
Those who contribute to my campaign do so knowing that I am grateful for their support but it will not curry special privileges, favors, or votes. Contribute because you like the vision of government’s role in your life.