Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Midnight Raid on the Treasury

Dan Coody may be down, but he's not out -- yet. Last night at the City Council agenda session, Coody presented a wish list of 60 public works projects estimated to cost $247,754,170.00 in 2008 dollars before inflation and cost over runs. "We thought we'd shoot for the moon," Coody said. "We don't know what to expect." If any of them eventually get built, we know to expect with certainty that old Dan will claim credit for having pushed them on the next mayor and council; and if they don't get built, he can blame the next mayor and council for failing to carry out his grand plans.

The proposal is instructive about Mayor Coody's real priorities. Not a nickel for parks or trails, but $112 million for the I-540 Fulbright Expressway. Nothing for Jordan's priority of restoring the historic bridges on Maple and Lafayette. Nada for watershed protection or stormwater runoff control; zilch for urban forestry or acquisition of natutal areas and greenways. $644,000 to repaint a water tank, and $83,700 for tasers. The "shoot the moon" wish list looks like something drawn up by a drunk sailor on shore leave.

Now rumors are floating around City Hall that Dan is plotting to loot the treasury to give out 3% raises for everyone before he leaves office. This will bump up his own salary level and help fatten that special retirement benefit if he accummulates future credits. It also protects his closest aides from Mayor-elect Jordan's promise to freeze salaries of those making over $80,000 and use the money for more equitable raises for employees at the shallow end of the public trough. In addition, this last minute spending spree could lock the city into a financial straight jacket if revenues decrease next year.

Perhaps it is just an unfounded rumor and Dan is above such political chicanery and self-serving largess with the people's money. We will know for sure in the next three weeks.

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