Thursday, November 4, 2010

Withhold Your Support for a New Mayor Until...

Did you know that we’re still down the drain in HP? News to you?

Many of us, especially those in the Ravinia neighborhood, believed that the “Neighborhood Sanitary Sewer Repair Program (‘the Sewer Program’)”was D-E-A-D. Seems we were misinformed, misled. It is very much alive and Mayor Belsky has reinforced that the program has “merit and benefit” to the City. He has indicated that the Sewer program is merely on “hiatus during the economic downturn” and that is will be “discussed in the 2011 budget workshops.” Not dead at all. Alive, kicking and waiting to impolitely knock on your door to demand $5,000-$20,000 of your own savings. If you don’t have any savings, you can either get a loan for it (assuming you are credit worthy in this fine economy) or the City will place an enforceable lien on your property. If you just bought your house in HP, or are just about to sell it, that doesn’t matter (except you better disclose this liability as a seller). That’s the way it is going to be, for sure, if you don’t take action now to stop it.

We now have a unique and strategic opportunity to make things right and conclusively. Mayor Michael Belsky has decided not to run for mayor of HP again. I’m sure we’d all like to thank Mike for his dedication throughout his years of service to this community and some of the extraordinary achievements of the City during his leadership – but this would not include his continued support of the Sewer Program.

With Mayor Belsky’s decision not to run for re-election, we have an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and to tell our mayoral and City Council candidates that we will simply not support or vote for any candidate unless he or she takes a firm and vocal stand against the Sewer Program in its present form that requires individual residents to pay (in any proportion, in whole or in part) for work on their own private property sanitary lines to correct and/or compensate for HP infrastructure problems.

This City must find another way to pay for the infrastructure improvements. The burden simply should not have been placed directly on certain individual residents. From the outset, this was an awful recommendation by the City Manager in complete and total disregard of the impact on the individual residents. It was inexplicably adopted by City Council compounding the error in judgment.

Additionally, you should require your candidate to officially support and deliver reimbursement to the HP residents who have been treated so inequitably by the City and the Program and who have already been coerced to pay sums of approximately $5000-$20,000 during the worst economic environment most can recall.

By the way, if you have ever had your sanitary sewer line rodded, that is considered by the City to be prima facie evidence that you will be liable to pay for “repair” of the line under this Sewer Program (and don’t you think you need to disclose this to any home buyers?). They will knock on your door.

If you haven’t been already, you’ll be contacted soon by candidates to seek support. Don’t give it until you receive a firm commitment to correct this problem and terminate the Sewer Program with regard to individual resident payments. So far, according to the Pioneer Press, the only declared candidates are already in City Council, so require them to take action now. No need to ask for commitments and wait for the election. Seeing is believing. Tell them to put the matter to a vote now. See who votes, how they vote, and what their leadership talents are. Let’s not forget that in the last City Council election certain candidates represented to us that they were opposed the Sewer Program – and you know who they are. What action have they taken? None. Zip. Zero. Remember this for future elections.

Indeed, only former City Councilman Michael Brenner responded diligently, respectfully and with interest to my brother’s complaints to City Hall from the outset. Virtually all of the other City Councilmen ignored my brother’s complaints to City Council about the Sewer Program in 2007 and to date. We don’t even know how many other resident complaints they ignored as well. It was unfortunate that Councilman Brenner lost the last election, especially in light of the fact of the unfounded claims made by other candidates. Still, it is not too late for everyone on City Council to step up and do the right thing now, before the election, to prove their good faith. And we need to encourage them and to keep them focused on getting it done.

Please join me in drawing a line in the sand, No support, no vote for any candidate that does not fix the Sewer Program by terminating the requirement that it be paid for by individual residents. No support, no vote for any candidate that does not immediately call for the reimbursement to HP residents for the considerable sums they paid for work on their own private property to address a City of HP infrastructure problem.

Questions? Comments?

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