Party Time With Sacramento

Katy Grimes: Despite facing a massive $39 million budget deficit, record numbers of home and commercial property foreclosures, cuts to public safety, the decimation of the city parks staff, and teacher layoffs, two Sacramento legislators are in a party mood.

Sacramento legislators, Sen. Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, together with City Councilman Rob Fong are sponsoring a big party for Sacramento residents.

This invitation is emblematic of the breakdown of our government with the city and the legislators throwing a party for the public.  The disconnect is worse than  Queen Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake,” upon learning that the peasants had no bread.

Billed as the “2011 Passport to Summer Youth Fair,” the press release said that it “highlights hundreds of positive summer opportunities for youth.” The invitation states, “Local Parks and Recreation departments will showcase summer programs and services, and service organizations will identify the many ways youth can make a difference in their community by volunteering.”

I’m not sure how the city plans on providing opportunities for children and youth when the Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department just announced that it has to cut another $4.4 million to its budget. No doubt this means more layoffs, and program cuts. The parks department already announced plans to close swimming pools, including the kiddie wading pools around town.

“All wading pools throughout the City except for the ones at Clunie and Doyle are proposed reductions for summer 2012.  It costs $76,000 to operate the wading pool system as a whole,” read the email notice my neighborhood volunteer group received this week, providing an even greater impetus to privatize these services.

But the city would rather close down the pools rather than allow privatization.

And, it was announced last week that the city parks employees would again suffer layoffs, which thus far, have been disproportionately far in excess than other city department. There’s nothing quite like a visible department cut to get the attention of voters – especially when tax increases are being pushed.

“Most of us have fond memories of our youthful boundless energy and those seemingly endless summer days. After all, being a kid is all about having fun,” Steinberg said in the invitation.  “But it’s also important for our kids to make new discoveries through organized programs and providing service to their community.”

MAY 12, 2011

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