Most reasonable and responsible citizens and residents would agree that we need taxes to support and maintain, “basic city services and improve on others” in order to achieve a better “quality of life.” Along with that comes the expectation that our elected officials will responsibly manage our tax dollars – and good governance. Along those same lines however, proper accounting standards and practices – namely Needs Assessment, Cost Benefit Analysis, Program Evaluation, and council oversight are indispensible.
So when the city council spends our General Fund dollars on unsubstantiated and unjustified programs, without the proper pre- and follow-up accountability practices, it raise worries, doubts, anxieties and serious questions among the general tax-paying public.
Where is the accountability and transparency of the previous two five-year city council expenditures of $45 million in sales taxes?
What projects has the council concentrated the bulk of that spending and why?
Without a doubt, there is a huge gulf of trust when it comes to politicians' highly questionable spending practices and track record. The city council needs to show they have been not necessarily great stewards of our precious tax dollars (that would be too much to ask), but just good ethical stewards of our tax dollars, and not beholden to special parochial interests. The reliance on unfounded politics of fear and loathing is disingenuous and has no place in public discourse and decision-making.
I will share once again some of the city council's unsubstantiated and unjustified spending that failed the accountability, transparency and good governance test.
1.The Surveillance Camera Program, over $1 million to install, plus $105,000 to date for the annual maintenance contract with Surveillance Grid Integrated SGI of Morgan Hill, Santa Clara County.
2.The city council’s approval of $50,000 for the Hollister Police Department's Reward Program.
3. The city council’s approval of HPD motorcycles.
4. The status of the unaccounted $90,000 from the 2015 Bike Rally.
5. HPD patrol car video system.
The city council spending on surveillance cameras and the associated maintenance contract alone, to an out-of-county corporation would have fully funded the 12 full-time laid-off firefighting positions. Instead, they relied on the politics of fear and loathing.
After filing three document requests with the city of Hollister, related to the above spending, and personally meeting with the city clerk to clarify his inability to understand the requests, I was told that “we’re a small town” and "don’t conduct these accounting practices on non-capital projects.” Although I was reassured by the city clerk that the documents related to the 2015 Bike Rally investigation (an unaccounted $90,000) were definitely available. To date, no documents have been made available or provided. More importantly, without these most basic of accounting safeguards, concerns of possible fraud, waste and abuse are heightened and justified!
Former President Ronald Reagan, when asked about his negotiations with the Soviet Union over nuclear disarmament, and on the question of verification, is quoted as saying: “we trust but verify.” The same is required here!
We cannot work our way out of our current economic malaise on the backs of our citizens and residents by highly-suspect traffic stop policies and on the issuance of tickets. Nor can we arrest enough people of color (disproportionately) without major social repercussions.
With less than a week left before we cast our votes on national, state, county, and local politicians, referendums and measures, city politicians have little time to reassure the voters that they deserve our continued TRUST.
If you want more of the same-old irresponsible spending without accountability and transparency, than you should vote for Measure W.
If however, you believe that the winds of sweeping change are upon the nation, and Hollister, and that a major overhaul is called for, than VOTE NO on Measure W!
Maybe the third go-at-it will be the charm!