Why am I running - BLUF
- I feel obligated to try and bring back those procedures that led to 4 years of projects coming in on time and on budget
Debate organizers and ballot guides often ask candidates, “why do you want to be elected?". The better question is, “why should you be elected?” (you can cut to the chase and skip to the why answer).
I typically have a hard time with the first question. The other day I realized why when my wife told me the garbage disposal stopped spinning. It was then I recognized the feeling that I got at that moment was pretty close to the same feeling I got when I decided to run for council. There isn’t really any feeling of “wanting” to run as much as it is a feeling of obligation.
I know that for many people the word obligation has a negative connotation. It’s common to conclude that if someone is doing something more because they feel obligated to do it than because they get joy in doing it, then it’s bad. Personally, I’d guess that 70 or 80 % of the things I do, I start because I feel obligated to do them. The joy typically comes after the obligation is filled. I don’t have that same negative connotation of obligations as most people.
Turning back to the garbage disposal problem. After my wife told me of the problem, I got up to see if I could figure out the problem. After cleaning out some food particles, realized something was jammed and keeping the motor from turning. I felt a feeling of despair because my first thought was it would have to be replaced. That despair came from the memory that 10 years ago, when I put this one in, it took all afternoon and most of the evening before I was done. That despair grew when I realized that I’m still too cheap to let my laziness win and I wouldn’t be able to make myself pay a plumber to come and put it in for me.
Resigned to fix the problem myself, I went about trying unorthodox solutions to avoid calling a plumber. Twenty minutes later the garbage disposal was grinding food particles. There was no joy present when my wife pointed out the garbage disposal was jammed. But once the job was complete, there was exceptional satisfaction knowing that a $350 plumbing bill was avoided.
There are a couple of reasons that I would want to be on council. Perhaps, I will get to them at the end of this essay. Those thoughts were not significant factors in why I decided to run. It’s because of the feeling of obligation that you have the choice to vote for me as your representative to council.
It took a few paragraphs but that is a good lead in to why the second question is better than the first. This answer will not be new to those that read all of my essays. But I know many residents have not.
Why Tom McMasters should be elected
BLUF: Because the procedures I recommend save a lot of taxpayer money!
Between 2014 and 2018 I spent a lot of time and a lot of effort making sure that there were read ahead materials published as part of the agenda. This made it possible for council and the public to come prepared to discuss the meeting topics. During this time period, for major projects like the Music Center, we published comprehensive reports in an easy to access and follow, single location. This allowed residents to provide feedback to council. More importantly, it let decision makers know the public could quality check their work. This led to much better decisions being made between 2014 – 2018 than any time before or after.
Today, council has major economic development projects underway, such as the Marion Meadows purchase and rehab. There is no single place residents can go to tell how well this project or others is going. We know that in the beginning council made it seem like it was going to be much less of a strain on the city’s finances. We hear them say that it’s been more expensive than expected when they explain why it’s turned into a new apartment incubator instead of the project people envisioned when it was planned. We don’t know just how much more expensive or how much more of the original concept is going to be scrapped. These are things that council should be up front about and publish on a single web page.
Here is an example that compares what did happen when between 2014 - 2018 to what we are seeing now.
If you go to the City’s main website hhoh.org then select “Our Community” then “Rose Music Center” you will be taken to a page that contains the construction photos. It also contains a comprehensive list of documents available to the public. For instance, the Concept Plan for the Heights Development (PDF), the Construction Contract for Building the Music Center (PDF), the Facility Management Agreement With Music Event Management Inc (PDF), the Feasibility Validation Study March 14, 2013 (PDF) and dozens of financial reports are available there.
I would love to be able to compare what’s in here to what is on the webpage that tells us about all the good things happening at Marion Meadows. That is not possible because council does not even publish the good things.
The best thing for a comparison would be to note that In 2017, the last year I was mayor, the public had access to the 2017_RMCDetailRevenueExpense. That type of revenue and expense report is not available in 2018 nor in any year since. From 2014 to 2018 residents had the opportunity to make sure the numbers you heard us say in meetings matched what the accountants told us. Starting in 2018, there is no such assurance.
How can you tell this is important. Look at what happened before 2014. In 2004 Council planned and revealed a golf course development without transparency. This led to council building Carriage Trails Boulevard on private land using $8 million dollars of our tax dollars. When that development failed, the owners of that land put large concrete barriers at the entrances of the road and taxpayers couldn’t even use the road they had paid for. Because council had borrowed to pay for the road, they panic and made a deal with the new owner. This deal was again negotiated out of the public’s eye and turned into the public / private partnership that resulted in the City giving the new developer $20 million dollars in incentives to make sure the developer could pay the $8 million dollar cost of Carriage Trails Boulevard.
Similarly, in 2012, council planned and revealed “The Heights Development”, a high scale shopping area at the corner of Brandt Pike and Executive Blvd. They did this in private outside the public’s view then telling us we were about to see one billion dollars of economic benefit from this new shopping center.
The Aquatic Center, planned in private and reveal as a $6 million project cost over $10 million and key aspects were never developed or in the case of the amphitheater, built as a separate project with additional money.
Contrast this to what happened from 2014 to 2018. Major projects such as the Music Center and the new Fire Station were built on time and on budget directly because the details were available to the public in a concise and understandable manner.
That leads us to 2018 to the present. If we want to see our taxpayer dollars spent wisely, we need a council willing to publish the data and let residents provide the oversight that helps council make the smart decisions.
I will be just one of nine members of council if I get elected but you can be assured that I will be advocating for those procedures that lead to the best use of our tax dollars.
Vote Tom McMasters for Ward 6.
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