That someone who decided to be ABSENT during the critical budget process of the municipality he is supposed to be in charge of would call the city council's attempt to correct the incompetence he presides over and contributes to a "political" maneuver should have the residents outraged. The lack of leadership we witnessed the other night--the continued obfuscation, the obtuseness, the evasiveness--and the complete and utter lack of respect for the residents of this city by those in charge is par for the course in this administration.
At the Monday night agenda session, a member of the public--Mr. Robert Darden--came before the city council during the public comment period and asked a number of questions about this year's budget. In answering his questions, Council President Mapp noted that the city council had to correct a number of serious and egregious financial errors in the budget that the mayor and her administration introduced, to the tune of almost $2 million. Councilman Mapp also stated how appalled he was at a series of letters that the administration sent to the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) regarding the amendments.
I am equally appalled--at the contempt City Administrator Berry has shown for the budget process, and at the contempt that he has demonstrated to the council itself. It appears that he and the mayor expect the DLGS to do a version of "line item vetoes" to the city council's budget.
The letters, which City Administrator Berry purports to have written himself, were extremely insulting, inaccurate, and a blatant attempt to do an end-run around a budget process that he, frankly, appeared to have no interest in or adequate knowledge of.
The administration is the body that has been fiscally imprudent with your dollars, attempting to pad the budget with unnecessary individuals, avoid its responsibility to pay its deferred pension obligations, and add hundreds of thousands of dollars to budget lines such as the mayor's. Mr. Berry wasn't present at many of the hearings, and when he was present, he deferred even the simplest of council queries to his subordinates.
I am hopeful that the community bloggers will provide more details about the three letters, in which he accused the council of playing politics. Here is a sample of the ridiculous assertions in one of the letters that he purports to have written:
“Clearly the majority of the City Council is attempting to mortgage the future of the city instead of being prudent with surplus fund to guard against future fiscal crises. Instead of being sensitive to the financial plight of a citizenry struggling to keep their homes, keep fully employed and in many cases, find employment after having lost jobs; the majority of the Council is content to provide a far greater level of funding to the Public Library than what is needed for the operation of a model library. We are of the opinion that the majority of the Council is seeking to draw down on this surplus as a short term political strategy.”
It is obvious that Mr. Berry is unaware and uninformed--which seriously calls into question the competence of the administration. To suggest that the city council is "attempting to mortgage the future of the city," given the mayor's sloppy, error-ridden, incompetent introduced budget is inexcusable. For Mr. Berry's information, the library amendments were passed 6-1, with only Councilor Reid voting "no." In addition, his sleazy assertion that the council is playing politics by funding the library is beneath contempt.
I cannot begin to express how ill-served the people of this city are with this kind of political maneuvering by their city administrator and their mayor. I directly asked Mr. Berry about the specific passage I posted above--I asked if he thought we (the 6-1 majority) were "playing politics" and he replied (barely above a whisper) "yes." He offered absolutely no reason for giving this opinion in the letter he states he wrote, so to include it in his preposterous correspondence to the DLGS demonstrates who is really playing politics here.
I haven't even discussed the content of the other silly letters Mr. Berry sent to Trenton--those blog posts will be forthcoming. Again, the people are ill-served by this nonsense.