Monday, December 7, 2009

Anonymous writes

Anonymous left the following in the comments to my last post. S/he admitted that it was completely off topic, so I'm spinning it out as a post of its own. M-M-M-My Pomona is a community blog, and anyone who wants to sign up as an author (under whatever pseudonym) should drop me a line with an email address and ask to be added.

In the meantime, I give you.... Anonymous!

Pomona fiscal Budget Woe's may be off comment but important to the resident's of Pomona.
I wanted to share my opinion. So here’s my rant.

The Pomona City government is facing another budget shortfall of over $4.5M. Last year they outsourced a few city services like a few park maintenance positions, outsourcing street sweeping, building and safety and the like. The City departments were all asked to reduce their budgets by 10%, and most did.

Pomona’s finance department grossly under estimated future (2009 2010) revenues resulting in this year’s budget shortfall again! I presume they were expecting that the property values in Pomona would take off and maybe double. Nonetheless, and despite their gross miscalculation we are only ½ way through the year and face another financial crisis.

Idea’s that are currently floated within the City are to, close the Public Library, eliminate park maintenance, another round of layoff’s that will further impede service, and reduce the Police department services, while delivering salary increases to the cops still on the payroll. In other words, Education, children services, and public safety take a back seat, because somehow the fiscally responsible thing to do is hand the control of the City to our gangs, and invite the uneducated hoards of surrounding gang members a promise of safe refuge.

It’s time the City take bold steps that would build up the Pomona families and children.

Outsource the Police Department To LA County – The Pomona Police Department is an expensive under performing City service. Aside from all the liability law suite’s that they create, they under serve the community. The City can obtain a larger Police presence, that are better trained, have state of the art technical equipment, and the backup of the entire LA County Sheriff’s Department. Better service and capabilities at ½ of the $50 million dollar price tag that they now consume.

Outsource the Public Library – This is a service we may lose completely if something isn’t done and savings aren’t obtained. We over pay the city Director and employee’s while cutting services to the public. A large portion of the public depends on the Library for education computer and internet services. Having the Library outsourced would decrease the general budget and still provide service to those that depend on the Library.

These two departments will no doubt rise to arms in an effort to remain at the Pomona money trough where they have grown use to gorging their huge appetites from.
However the citizens of Pomona must to rise up and insist that the Mayor, the City Council, and the City bureaucrats do not create a disaster in our city, but take bold measures to insure we keep, and improve our vital City services to create a long term strategy that provides a financial surplus. I am concerned as a resident of Pomona, for the long term health of our City. Outsourcing these enormous and expensive services will do just that.


Ed said...

I haven't posted in awhile so I might as well mouth off in a comment.

Given the current economic situation, should we be surprised that the city's financial department might have underestimated city revenue? The contributor failed to mention the current status of our city's reserves, so does anyone know that information?

As for outsourcing, I find the most value in that option is when you have a competitive marketplace. In terms of park maintenance and street maintenance, we're dealing with relationships that can be terminated and replaced if the service is not satisfactory. Perhaps the contributor knows of some private militia units out there who could provide competition for the LA County Sheriff, but I'll claim ignorance on that front.

Furthermore, the Sheriff currently has little track record with cities the size of Pomona. I don't have the info directly in front of me, but when I reviewed their list of communities last Spring, I believe the only cities comparable to Pomona in size were in the high desert. Since the growth in those cities has primarily occurred in the last decade, it isn't clear that the Sheriff's department actually has the expertise to deal with Pomona.

A previous comment months ago, suggested the Sheriff's department performance in Compton could be a predictor of similar success in Pomona, but other than a drop in burglary and homicide rates, most of the other crime rates are relatively steady or are slightly higher than the rates prior to 2000 when the Sheriff's department began providing service. Even the number of homicides is three times higher than Pomona and yet Compton is almost half the population size. What might be a lesson for the residents of Pomona is that the Compton City Council in 2009 formed a feasibility study group to explore reestablishing their police department.

I love data, so if anyone wants to take the time to generate an exhaustive argument (it can be multiple posts) with actual numbers supporting the position that outsourcing police and library services make sense, then I'd be excited to read it. But really, should we be surprised that cities' are having trouble balancing their budgets when consumer purchasing has plummeted and real estate prices have dropped?

On the crime front, I'll have something about Pomona homicides in the next week or so.

38special said...

Ed, you mentioned the competitive market place. Isn't that what it's all about? Don't we have a choice right now? The Pomona PD versus LA County? What would give us the biggest bang for the buck? I would think that Public safety would be a little different than Target or Walmart.

You mention the comparable city size of Compton, and they (the Sheriff's) only effected burglary and homicide rates being down since they took over, that sounds like something Pomona needs!

As far as the Library is concerned, I would rather have a county library we could afford rather than none at all.

If anonymous know's anything about the surplus (if any) that Pomona has, I would be very interested also. Does anyone know if other cities have a surplus?

Anonymous said...

Boy I can certainly relate to the frustration borne out by the writings of "anonymous".

I am all for efficient delivery of city services at a reasonable market price, but I suspect that outsourcing is not the cure all for the ultimate problem.

My view is that the upper level management folks, and council, have failed to effectively do their jobs. It cracks me up that these same mgmt folks who have run these departments into the ground now want to outsource.....of course, the management folks are left untouched and still make the same money and have even less responsibility.

If you want to have your eyes bleed, you need to dig into the City spending over the course of a year or so. The management level is making outrageous compensation and outsourcing for management/contruction/engineering services is absurd.
Millions are going to pay outside consultants to do work that should be performed by city staff.

I am not sure where I fall on the Police vs. Sheriff issue, but I suspect millions could be saved in simply re-vamping city hall and the myriad of top mgmt positions that are making BIG money.

Ed said...

If you dissolve the Pomona PD you are eliminating your choice. In contrast, if you don't like your street maintenance, you can replace the company when the contract expires. If the burden to replace is too high, you have no choice.

I actually didn't compare Compton to Pomona on size, since Compton has roughly 90,000 residents and Pomona is closer to 170,000. Given Compton dissolved its force in 2000 and replaced them with the LA County Sheriff it's relevant to examine their numbers. My primary point is that based on the numbers the Sheriff's department hasn't been hugely successful in decreasing crime in a geographical area substantially smaller than Pomona.

Could the LA County Sheriff be successful in reducing crime further in Pomona? I don't know, but I haven't seen any data to support that argument.

As for the benefit of moving the library to county-control, I've read some opinion, but I haven't seen data for that position either.

Just like the outsourcing of park maintenance, if the numbers make sense, I'll support the position, but I really think the Pomona police and library employees deserve more than just opinions when you're suggesting that they should join the ranks of the unemployed.

Anduhrew said...

I'm for Pomona keeping their PD. It makes sense. We wont have multiple cities competing for the same resources like with the county sheriffs offices. I feel the same is actually beneficial isntead of detrimental for the public library. My wife actually uses Chino Hills library because it is the nearest county library for us. It gives her greater access to more books from other cities. For a city library, what u see is what u get. there are no linkages to other libraries.

jb505 said...

Contracting the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept for Law Enforcement Services would be the worst decision the city council could ever make. Your comments regarding the take over of Compton show very little knowledge on the subject.

Compton not only had a horrific crime rate it also had poor control of city corruption and a lack of control on the police evidence building; guns were missing and later used in other crimes. Also, Compton recently had the worst year for homicides in the city's history; after the Sheriff's had taken over. When the Sheriff's took over Compton the were going to add two additional homicide teams to handle the increased work load but that never happened. This meant more work for the investigators but less time to spend on each case reducing the solve rate. Also there have been several financially costly deputy involved shootings that the county has paid (the 100 round stolen car incident and the killing of a Sheriff k9 in Compton). Law suits are part of the California society; Pomona has one of the best success rates against them in the state.

Another example to look at was when the Sheriff's Dept. began patrolling part of Long Beach. After an approx. 2 year experiment, the City of Long Beach elected to expand their dept. rather than use the Sheriff's Dept. They found their agency and officers did a better job. The statement that the sheriff's are better trained is far from true. The State of Ca. mandates all the training the every officer from every agency receives. It is the same for all.

The reality is that you get what you Pay for, if you contract the Sheriff's there will be less officers in the field and investigators to work the cases. Homicides are an almost impossible crime to prevent but the solve rate will be decreased; because of the lack of investigative time on each case. Pomona has always had some of the best investigators in the state and I am sure that standard will always reamin.

The council and the city's leadership need to find a way to get major retail stores and restaurants into the city to uplift Pomona's reputation(stop going to Montclair or Chino after Dept Head meetings). Contracting the LA County Sheriff's dept. will only hurt Pomona like the LA Conty Fire Dept has.

billy said...

If we get the same public safety service for half the price I'm all for outsourcing PD. Close the library, Who goes there, it's outdated anyway.

John Clifford said...

So Billy, what makes you think that outsourcing will save 50%? Anyone who tells you such a thing is blowing smoke. Pomona cops don't make more than sheriffs, cars, guns, ammo, radios, cost what they cost. So there's no way that you could possibly save more than a few percent that would come with economy of scale.

Making such a statement does nothing to help the dialog.

Ms. Lois said...

Well said, John. I can't even tell you how offensive his last two sentences are, and so untrue.

Anonymous said...

Hard to know what the savings would be by going with the Sheriff until a proposal is reviewed. I think it would be prudent to seek such a bid and then a meaningful review can be made.

Often times a significant savings can be realized by contracting with the Sheriff due to their existing equipment, management differences(not as top heavy as many local PD's) and they take on the liability from lawsuits vs. the city being on the hook.

But it is all "crystal ball" assertions until a proposal is obtained.

Anduhrew said...

Billy is right. Let's close the library. No one in Pomona knows how to read anyways! Books are for old people and scientific journals are for weirdos who are into scientific research with quantifiable data. Logic and science is totally outdated and so are books!

John Clifford said...

I so love sarcasm, but I'm not sure that there aren't those who sometimes don't recognize it.

Thanks Anduhrew

Anonymous said...

Pro outsource!!!!!
Smell the coffee!
cops, guns, ammo, yes,
redundant non-sworn, dispatch operations,record keeping personnel, technologies, lack of backup and many other costly services no.
Think about it, there has got to be a ton of real savings. Better service at a lower cost! I'm all for it!

Anonymous said...

I agree with An-duh-rew, and clifford. I would like to see the Library remain open, provide service to our young residents, but if we can obtain the same objective at a lower cost by outsourcing, why not?
Also once reviewed, and due diligence is achieved, perhaps outsourcing public safety will provide the financial means to support other vital services.