There’s no lemon law for cities

When I went to buy my first car, my dad Hank told me to look under the hood. That nugget of wisdom meant I shouldn’t believe what was I told and that I should check the facts.After listening to Mayor Jerome Stocks deliver the State of the City Address, I think it’s time Encinitas residents took a look under the hood of this city.

In his speech April 11 Stocks took a stroll down memory lane, opting to point out past accomplishments rather than offer solutions for the problems facing the city today.

On the subject of maintaining our roads, he highlighted that last year public works filled 124 potholes.

While this is good news he failed to mention that, according to the Nichols report submitted in March 2010, city streets are still in need of approximately $43.1 million worth of repairs through 2014.

The report stated: “If these issues are not addressed, the quality of the road network will inevitably decline. In order to correct these deficiencies, a cost-effective funding and maintenance and rehabilitation strategy must be implemented.”

Stating that some potholes were fixed while city streets are still in need of further repairs is like a child saying they’ve cleaned their room, only by sweeping their mess under the bed. The room may look nice but the work still needs to be done. I want to know where the money to fix our roads is.

I think credibility is important when elected leaders speak on city issues.

In June 2011, Stocks wrote a guest column in The Coast News and said about the Hall Park: “The city is going out for bids to construct phase one of the park.” That never happened.

When discussing the park in his speech, Stocks said, “We have incredibly favorable bids that are coming in well under the engineer estimates.”

The engineer’s estimate for the base bid is $10.9 million. But, according to the city’s own website it states that sealed bids will be: “Received until May 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm at which time the bid packages will be publicly opened and read.”

If the bids are supposedly sealed until May 17, how can Stocks know what bids are coming in, in April? It’s an important question. He has made a statement of fact.

The public might ask how Stocks knows, and when did he know it? Contractors might ask if Stocks discussed bid results with anyone, and if so with whom and when?

Millions of dollars are at stake. Should there be an investigation? Is the sealed bid process valid if it has been violated?

Stocks said the city has a structurally balanced budget, and claimed the city could not have “achieved the things we have without solid financials.”

How balanced can our budget be if we are behind in road repairs, and, if after 11 years, we still don’t have the money to build Hall Park without more public debt?

I have looked under the hood, and I think the city needs a tune up.



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