Opinion: Common Sense

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City Needs to Cut Nonessential Spending

 

By Jennifer Welsh Zeiter

We are wading through high tides. Difficult times call for difficult measures. I’m honored to be able to contribute to this Common Sense column, as a co-author with Laguna resident Michele Monda, who has done a wonderful job of tackling some important issues around town with some much needed common sense. Here’s my first take.

Physical distancing. Collectively, we understand the need to comply with this directive, to achieve quicker containment of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Lagunans’ seem to be doing a pretty good job of this, knowing we are all in this together, to support and keep our community well. Socially, we should continue to reach out and strengthen those community bonds we’ve let slide in these times of great divide

Tightening our belts. The plunging stock market resulting from the near-paralyzed economy and panic selling will result in long term financial difficulties for many. We will enter into a national and global recession if we do not get people back to work and the economy up and running again, as soon as possible. In the meantime, most are tightening their financial belts and spending less, hunkering down both physically and financially. Locally, our city runs on taxpayer dollars, and it too needs to hunker down. Revenues will certainly fall short of budgeted expenses in 2020, and maybe beyond, especially in the bed tax, sales tax, and parking revenues areas. All discretionary non-essential city spending should stop, immediately.  That includes a hiring freeze on employees and consultants, freezing expenditures related to the Downtown Action Plan and the Digester, deferring portions of the $23 million wildfire mitigation package approved last summer containing many unessential expenditures including utility undergrounding paid for by General Fund dollars rather than neighborhood assessment districts, stopping tree removal, and freezing (or get extensions on) all property purchases, including the Library property and two parcels in the 31000 block of South Coast Highway. Focus on the essentials, defer or cut the rest, and let’s hope the city’s reserves are not tapped out to get through these times. 

Support local businesses. Sweeping lockdowns across the nation may be essential for containment, but they must be removed at the earliest opportunity, otherwise the prevention measures will cause much greater damage long after virus containment is achieved. Where possible, support local businesses like restaurants to help keep them afloat. With new health precautions and practices in place, we need to re-open Laguna, and America, for business, as soon as possible.

Remember your humanity, park your politics. We are all humans first and foremost, living together in our community. If anything good comes out of this COVID-19 crisis, besides practicing good hygiene, it is that we are reminded of our humanity and are coming together to help one another, reaching out to check on neighbors and loved ones, without first checking their political affiliation. Locally, it’s nice to see that most are embracing their humanity, remembering that we are a community, talking to one another, even if from a distance. Unfortunately, there are those in town, whether it be on NextDoor, Facebook or the local papers, who continue to spew hateful political rhetoric (and you know who you are), and insist on tearing down our leaders, at all levels, who are doing their best to do what is right for all, given the ever changing facts and circumstances. Give it a break. You are not helping. On a national basis, there are those in Congress who are playing politics by refusing to pass a national relief package unless it is first stuffed with special interest items that have zero relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.  They are shamefully taking what should be an urgent bipartisan rescue bill as a political hostage. Let’s hope by the time this column goes to print humanity returns to the beltway, people are hurting and need relief now.

Let’s remember that we have more in common than what separates us. Bottomline, we are all in this together, and together we can get through this. Use common sense, take proven safety measures, practice good hygiene, don’t panic, don’t feed the frenzy, and don’t escalate unnecessarily. Breathe. Locally, thank you to our city leaders and all of those who are helping to guide us, knowing they are doing their best in these difficult and unchartered times.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Nice column. I do want to add that the laguna business climate was very toxic before the virus and so non business friendly. This will likely cause the straw that broke the camels back. Our town should have been thankful to the businesses instead of fighting every single thing they do. The homeless parked in front of their doors. The city does not have the shopkeepers back. This is a good opportunity for this town to make new commitments to business owners and the local shops. Look how there is plenty of parking, this means its all out of towners parking free or paid in the street, this means because of the parking rules, stores cant open (theater has restrictions) or other shops have parking restrictions. How about finding a way less of the visitors who take everything from our town without spending a dime, and find deterrants? So that the people in this town that pay all the taxes can actually enjoy it!

  2. Well put! This would be a great time to not only to stop discretionary city government spending but to make it PERMANENT and eliminate as much of it as possible. Laguna Beach should be run by the producers of society not the trust fund recipients who can’t balance their check books dictating to local business what they can and cannot do with their property. Lets allow the free market to decide if a business can operate and succeed, not the privileged elite.

  3. Welcome Jennifer! great article and thanks for the reminder to put people first and to watch out for each other, this is a time for reflection and coming together, hopefully priorities in our budget will take precedence instead of wasteful spending, that our business owners can get back on their feet and we can all work together through this crisis.

  4. If Jennifer Zeiter, one of our most passionately political locals, wants us to “park our politics,” she might start by modeling the behavior she recommends. In the same paragraph that she asks us to come together as a community — a terrific idea — she manages to display her blind devotion to a president who many of hold responsible for the severity of the crisis we’re in, and slam the Congress for playing politics with its pork barrel rescue plan. (Hint: she means the Democrats.)

    “A crisis is not an inappropriate time for politics. It is the most political of times.”
    — Anand Giridharadas, author of “Winners Take All”

  5. Ah, Mr. Quilter – you are one of few referred to as “and you know who you are.” Thanks for proving the point, once again.

  6. Thank’s Jennifer. I supported your opinion and positive outlook for the most part and appreciated that you addressed the need to halt City spending on non-essentials. I am in full agreement and have recently communicated this to our city officials. I hope they listen to us involved and caring local-activists. Our voices aren’t going away nor will they be silenced as our short-term official Peter Blake has expressed he would like to see. That will not happen – not now during this Covid19 situation or ever.

    Another thought I’d like to share. If I were you, I would have eliminated this entire message:
    “Unfortunately, there are those in town, whether it be on NextDoor, Facebook or the local papers, who continue to spew hateful political rhetoric (and you know who you are), and insist on tearing down our leaders, at all levels, who are doing their best to do what is right for all, given the ever changing facts and circumstances. Give it a break. You are not helping. On a national basis, there are those in Congress who are playing politics by refusing to pass a national relief package unless it is first stuffed with special interest items that have zero relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are shamefully taking what should be an urgent bipartisan rescue bill as a political hostage. Let’s hope by the time this column goes to print humanity returns to the beltway, people are hurting and need relief now.”

    To this I say. Give it a break. It is not helping us. Stay with the message of local unity and what is relevant to our city from an objective standpoint. This is what we need right now. Good luck with your column. I’m a big fan of Michele Monda and the local topics and facts she enlightens us with. Thank you, MJ Abraham

  7. 1. A bunch of Trump supporters have a column called “Common Sense” is absolutely classic.
    2. It’s not panic selling. The market is pricing in a collapse of the labor market never seen before
    3. We ARE in a recession. Welcome to reality
    4. “Park politics” in sentence one of graph 5, gets into politics a few sentences later
    5. Botton line is two words.

    With Trump supporters always a little patience. A little. Not infinite.

  8. The Hypocrisy of Ms Zeiters’s opinion piece in last week’s Indy titled Common Sense:” City Needs to Cut Nonessential Spending,” defies common sense.

    Common sense may be defined as an unsystematized or semi-conscious version of formal logic. Formal logic teaches us that according to the Law of the Excluded Middle everything is and must be either one of two mutually exclusive things. If A equals A, A cannot equal non-A. If the sun revolves around the Earth, then the Earth cannot revolve around the sun.

    After making some politically motivated observations regarding the present reduction in the revenue coming into the City of Laguna Beach and the need for the city to possibly make budgetary changes, Ms Zeiter, having run out of talking points then pads her opinion by going off on an illogical tangent.

    Beginning with paragraph four of her opinion piece Ms Zeiter insists some people in Laguna Beach, in the interest of humanity, “….should check their political affiliations.” Oddly Ms Zeiter at the opening of her opinion piece is very specific about her political recommendations for city spending. Ms Zeiter than goes on to tell us, again in violation of the Excluded Middle, that “…there are those in town…who continue to spew hateful political rhetoric (and you know who you are) ((and we know who Jennifer Zeiter is)), and insist on tearing down our leaders, at all levels….” Curiously Ms Zeiter becomes vague when she went on to complain, “…there are those in Congress who are playing politics by refusing to pass a national relief package unless it is first stuffed with special interest items….”

    Here’s what we know about Ms Zeiter. She is an out spoken disciple of Donald Trump. In Laguna Beach she attends city council meetings where she effusively praises Trump supporters on the city council. On social media sites like NextDoor she surrounds herself with like minded minions who hang on her every word and attack and ridicule people with a different point of view. Ms Zeiter (an attorney) even goes so far as to threaten to sue in court people who challenge her. Ms Zeiter is also a Libertarian. Keep in mind when Ms Zeiter echos Trumps words by telling us, “…we must get people back to work and the economy running again as soon as possible….” Like Trump she plays down the pandemic, turning market worship into a death cult.

    Nothing personal, Jeninfer. Just facts.

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