Fiscal Funnies

Dear Readers,

This recently in from Ward 2 Takoma Park City Councilmember Colleen Clay, regarding our brilliant “Snappy New Year” post in which we said “Councilmember Clay had arrived at the center to use a room she had booked to celebrate her child’s birthday, to find it had been double-booked.”

Your Gilbert was explaining the council’s concern that the new community center is not adequately staffed. “The solution, they agreed, . . . is that more funding is needed. This is a difficult thing for fiscal-conservatives such as Clay to advocate, yet the need is obviously there.”

Over to you, councilmember!

First, it is still so funny that you think I’m a fiscal conservative, but aside from that, I didn’t discover the rec. center was double booked when I got there, I discovered it the week prior and made adjustments. What I discovered when I got there is that there was no supervisor on site, the staff were not all capable of self-supervision, and no one had a key to the rooms. I have many other experiences with the rec. department that led me to the conclusion they need more supervision, but in part, I didn’t want to just dump on them in public. My goal, contrary to what you seem to believe, is not to slash the city budget, but to provide quality services. In this instance, that means spending more money on staff.
By the way, this does not make me a tax and spend liberal either.

Your Gilbert is pleased that the counmember finds us “so funny”. We do try to amuse.

Fortunately for Ms. Clay, Your Gilbert is not like some media riffraff – the sort who play fast and loose with the facts. We refer, of course, to a recent Gazette newspaper article intimating that the city will have to pay for community center contractors’ errors. City Manager Barbara Matthews took the Gazette to task for this at the council meeting and in a letter to the paper. The letter can be downloaded in pdf form on the city’s web site. Ms Mattew in her best administrativeese politely but firmly corrects the “mistaken impression” created by the article. One can hardly see the place where she whited-out “you muckraking morons!”

Could Councilmember Clay be emulating the city manager by writing to the offending publication (us)? Is granolapark guilty of inaccuracy when it says the councilmember discovered the doublebooking when she arrived for the event, rather than the week prior? A review of the tape shows the councilmember describing herself arriving to find find the reserved room locked and getting an “inside” person to open the door for herself AND “the other person who was there for their birthday party.” There is a reference at another point in the conversation to a “double booking.” These statements seem to indicate that double booking was discovered on the day,.

Did granolapark misrepresent the concerns of the council on Jan 8? Your Gilbert objectively and magnanimously observes that, though the intent was to report that the main concern of Councilmember Clay and other councilmembers was inadequate staffing, the post is not clear enough about that, and implies that problems with doublebooking are the main concern. This is not the case. A slight edit to the post will make this clearer.

These details aside, the important thing is that Councilmember Clay raised the subject of community center understaffing at the January 8 meeting, and that led to a long one-agenda-item city council meeting Feb. 8th. At that meeting the staff reported to the council about the community center activities and problems including understaffing and the overly complex room-rental policy.

As a result an increase in community center staff funding is now in the works, and councilmember Clay, belying any impression that certain media types may have had that she is a fiscal conservative, has for the moment embraced her fiscally irresponsible side. There are many things worse than being called a “fiscal conservative,” but if the councilmember insists, we could henceforth refer to her as a “fiscal schizophrenic,” perhaps, or “fiscal fantacist!”.

But, seriously, “fiscal conservative” does not mean someone who wants to “slash the city budget,” as Councilmember Clay seems to think Former Councilmember Marc Elrich was fiscally conservative, for example, by watching every penny, demanding the best value for money spent, and holding the line against new spending. This is not the same as slashing the city budget or city services.
– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

1 Comment on "Fiscal Funnies"

  1. Dear Gilbert.
    You seem to take all of this so personally. I know you miss your most favored council member Elrich, but don’t dispair, others will fill his role. I must report that the city manager has found a way to improve weekend supervision without additional staffing costs. We’ll have to see how that works out.

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