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Community Commentary: When it comes to spending, 'enough is enough'

February 23, 2011|By Steve Mensinger

At a rural elementary school several miles outside the city of Stockton, I learned a valuable lesson on my way home. A schoolmate of mine, Kurt, had been the subject of persistent teasing, taunting and ridicule. At the age of 6, while walking home with Kurt, somewhere on Nassano Drive, I lost my innocence. Enough is enough! I dropped my books and tackled the other boy, ripped my shirt and broke my Johnny Quest lunch box in the process.

Fast forward 43 years and a handful of days: enough is enough!

Costa Mesa has a spending problem. One need not be a detective to identify the fingerprints of the culprit. Our current budget crisis is the responsibility of those we elected. I would admit that the rank and file took what they were given, I would suggest that the associations that represented the rank and file got what they could, but in the end, we elected leaders affirmed these agreements and locked us into the inflexible instruments that were unsustainable.

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Now it's time to get our fiscal house in order. We will be facing many tough decisions that will affect the lives of real people. I, for one, will be the first to say thank you to those who serve us as public employees. They chose a career to serve others, not be disparaged. Many were dismayed by out-of-town police officers driving an Escalade with campaign signs in tow. However, this was the fringe in the department and lessons have hopefully been learned.

Our city has a spending problem. It is pure mathematics. In business, you have an obligation to the shareholders to balance your budget, and it is inconceivable that you would submit a budget that is not balanced.

Whether you are running a city or a company, you have a fiduciary obligation to your shareholders. Unfunded liabilities and unbalanced budgets are incompatible with the success of any city or organization.

"Enough is enough" does not mean we abandon our principles of having the finest police and fire departments in the county. We are simply saying we will have the finest police and fire that we can afford. We have symbiotic priorities that have been forgotten for too many years.

"Enough is enough" means no more kicking the can down the road on better schools and facilities.

"Enough is enough" applies to our leaders who ignore the exodus of students to schools outside of our city.

"Enough is enough" has higher expectations on infrastructure, better roads and expanded parks.

Spending 88% of your city general funds on compensation is just plain silly.

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