Newport Beach mayor Keith Curry went public last week with a roseate picture of how his city has created and abided by a 15-point sustainable plan that is delivering "a leaner, more efficient, more effective and better-managed" city government. As a result, he tells us, the City Council has turned a projected $8 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2009-10 into a balanced budget without tapping into operating reserves.
While this merits an "attaway, Newport Beach," it also raises an obvious question that might well be asked across the country: If this could be accomplished so readily under the stress of economic necessity, why wasn't it done before the crisis required it?
Which leads to another fundamental observation that needs to be addressed: Either the city has been miserably mismanaged or the cuts in budget are depriving us of essential, maybe even dangerously low, levels of public service. Or both.