The Cold Hard Floor of Reality

When you look at California, where some towns are going bankrupt and others are being threatened with their very existence due to mismanagement and having already spent what didn’t exist, or in Pennsylvania where they just slashed all salaries to minimum wage, we really need to rethink the purpose of our own town government and the attitudes that have crept in through the years.

Kudos to Mr. Sugerman and Mr. Rane who have stepped into our mess with both feet and are wading through it, trying to create a plan for making sense out of the nonsense that has and is going on in Lake Park regarding the financial picture. Lake Park has fallen victim to the same kind of nonsense that has “progressed”, “evolved” and “moved forward” over the years as government was transformed into a big “gimme“. Government has become the go-to place for job security and the place to be if you want to make out like a bandit. In some cases, this comes in the form of employees who expect (and have come to receive) all expenses paid in regard to holidays, insurance, vacations, pensions and the like, on top of salaries that exceed the private sector (and exceed the income and lifestyle of those paying those salaries and benefits). It comes in the form of those who gravitate toward the scent of “free money” by way of government grants to line the pockets of their businesses or fund their feel-good cause du jour. It sneaks in through every crack and crevice it can. Towns must be on guard or be taken.

Getting Back to Basics

Somewhere along the line, serving the people who pay those salaries and meeting the basic needs for roads, sewers and protection for residents has evolved into meeting utopian expectations, even in Lake Park. We find ourselves apologizing for not being able to do this, that and the other, or for not being able to offer the latest trendy goodies because we have been trained to assume that government is a never ending spigot of cash and prosperity. Government can go only as far as OUR pockets will take it and it was never meant to do such. It’s time our town representatives stop apologizing for cutting things that never should have been instituted in the first place. It’s time get real. Thankfully, last night we saw a glimmer of hope in that regard.

Taking Care of Our House

Image courtesy of Liz Detter

Lake Park, this is why we have to watch who we elect and hire, because that which our representatives allow to be set into place, once established, becomes, no longer a privilege that people appreciate, but a right they will demand in perpetuity. This provision of goodies becomes an obligation, and we will be scolded for trying to undo what should have never been done in the first place (case in point, the union rep’s comments at the end of last night’s meeting, whereby someone who doesn’t live in our town but makes part of his living off of our town, chides the hand that feeds him for acting like adults and making necessary hard choices to keep our home afloat and to live within our means. All this because he and those he represents might loose some goodies. Hey buddy, this is OUR town! This is OUR house. This is the street where WE live. Interesting that he praised the mayor for thinking like he does on the matter of the tax rate.) This is what we will face (get used to it) until we change the mindset, change the gimme culture and put our foot down on being led into financial slavery by people who are only out to make something off of us and who want to institute whichever policies and decisions will keep the handouts coming their way.

Once again as we struggle to make our town operate with what we have rather than what we wish we had, the need for common sense is evident. Emotion, dreams and utopian fairytales need to be left at the door of the town meetings. It’s time for big girls and boys to roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work of financial discipline. Thankfully we began to see some of that last night.

Waking Up is Hard to Do

Budgets aren’t for wish lists, they are for necessities. It’s time to wake up from the big government nightmare, swing our feet over the edge of the bed, put those shaky feet to the floor and take those first wobbly steps toward getting on with the business of living a real, everyday life. We don’t need to party like it’s 1999. We need to live a productive life knowing our homes, families and neighborhoods are protected. We need to be able to travel the streets of our town adequately, flush our toilets and have our garbage hauled away. We need to manage the everyday services as a town and then get out of the way so that the people who live here can go about their lives with the freedom to pursue their dreams, do as they please and put their ideas and ingenuity into being all they can be on a personal level and as part of a community.

Here’s to a season of budget negotiation success in Lake Park. Thanks to Mr. Sugerman and Mr. Rane for showing leadership, being realistic, and suggesting some common sense plans for making sense out of the nonsense. Thanks to the commission for haggling through the reams of pages, looking for ways to cut and accepting the challenge to step out of the nightmare onto the cold hard floor of reality. We’re just waking up, Lake Park. There a may be many shaky steps to come as the commission tries to wipe that sleep from their eyes. Help them steady their gait with your input and encouragement as they make their way to the coffee pot. It’s a new day. Possibilities abound. Maybe they’ll surprise us.

Not to worry, the reality of morning gets better after the first few steps, a cup of coffee and with the rising of the sun. It’ll be the same with the reality of life under a realistic budget too. Hang in there, Lake Park. We could use the new outlook. Manage this budget right and we might finally find ourselves swimming in sunshine and good times befitting a beautiful waterside community.

Image courtesy of George Tanguay

Dream or reality? The hard choices will make that decision.