If Slow Motion Excites You, Watch Committee in Action

Article excerpt

Byline: RONALD L. LITTLEPAGE

The City Council Finance Committee now has two days of budget hearings under its belt.

To say it has been ugly is an understatement.

The first full day of hearings on the proposed city budget was on Aug. 13.

Progress has been as slow as molasses on a winter day.

How slow?

The second full day of hearings was last Thursday. The committee finished the agenda - from Aug. 13. Nothing from last Thursday's agenda was taken up.

That meant a lot of high-salaried city employees sat twiddling their thumbs waiting for their departments or agencies to come up for review.

While the Finance Committee debated such critical aspects of the city's $1 billion budget as should $200 be spent on coffee and doughnuts, tens of thousands of dollars in city salaries were going down the toilet.

One reason for the slow space - besides such things as spending about an hour on whether $43,000 should be spent on Jaguar tickets - is a lot of repetitive and not so bright questions are being asked.

Let's just say you don't walk away from these hearings impressed with the committee's overall brain power.

Council President Richard Clark made a mistake by stacking the Finance Committee with rookies when veteran council members who have served as both council president and finance chair were available.

They would have added some wisdom to what right now is a runaway train.

Clark had promised a transparent budget process. That doesn't jibe with him dropping bombs like he did last Thursday in persuading the committee to vote to do away with the Inspector General's Office, set up by Mayor John Peyton to find efficiencies and to ferret out fraud. …