Of cherry tomatoes and optics-blind city leaders

Cherry tomatoes on the vineImage via Wikipedia

What’s better than finding a ripe cherry tomato in your back yard, harvesting it and popping it right in your mouth on a nice summer day? Finding three more to take in the house and add to your salad.

OK, enough with the happy “life is good” crapola.

I have to agree with the Cedar Rapids Gazette‘s editorial questioning of our city council’s decision to shell out $400,000 to pay exempt employees for extra hours worked during and after our historic flooding. I don’t begrudge any of the employees the money, but the timing is horrendous.

Is our leadership blind to appearances?

City Manager Jim Prosser’s instincts were good in that many of the non-hourly employees deserve something extra for work above and beyond the call.

One has to wonder, however, if the administration or anyone on the City Council stopped to examine how this might look to … let me think … the taxpayers maybe? How about to those who lost their homes and are struggling to figure out how to untangle the huge financial mess they’re in? It isn’t like we have hundreds of thousands of dollars just lying around.

One would think they could have asked pretty much anyone and gotten the same response I would have given them:

This ain’t gonna look good, folks.

It isn’t the first time our city leadership has come off as oblivious to public perception. They’re in dire need of some PR counseling (which I’d happily provide, but I would certainly charge them for it seeing as how we’re so flush with cash).

Speaking of consulting, I see we’re adding yet another outside consultant to our stable of outside consultants — this time in league with our county government. We seem to need to spend more tens of thousands of dollars out of state and out of city to lobby for disaster funds?

For crying out loud, we have people right here in River City who could do it for half the tab. Besides, hiring a lobbyist to get disaster funds tells me someone already on the payroll isn’t getting his or her job done.

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