To the editor:
For those of you who may not be aware, two of the principles of the Swim Center, Andy Sarwal and Fred Yeo, have agreed to plead guilty to $39 million dollars of bank fraud.
If you recall back in April of 2010 during a 12-plus hour City Council meeting, the FAB 5 saved the city millions of dollars by refusing to enter into the Swim Center deal with those individuals. Faulty financial thinking on the part of some Council Members would have had us give Sarwal and company $5 million dollars in cash, title to the Academic Village and $8.8 million dollars in site improvements.
Now, some on Council have stated that Sarwal and Yeo were mere victims of a bad economy. We know the economy is bad. Why just last Friday Capital Bank on Santa Barbara was robbed. The thief, no doubt also a victim of the economy, was forced to make his get away on a bicycle as apparently he couldn't afford a car.
In March 2011 by avoiding the original Aubuchon brokered Pine Island Road widening agreement and having the then City Manager King and staff negotiate with FDOT and the State Infrastructure Bank, the city saved approximately $53 million dollars on that project.
Sadly, much of this financial acumen has been lost to the city as a result of the last election. Witness the recent Slick 6 vote on the ill conceived, overbroad and legally infirm 652 acre Thieman land speculation deal. More about that later.
Unfortunately, some fuzzy financial thinking has now been imported to the Budget Review Committee via recent appointments. The new members are apparently so lacking in expertise that Councilmember Nesta has scheduled training sessions for them saying "we are going to educate these people a little bit ... when we give them direction they are free to do what they want, but within an educated background from City Staff." Read indoctrination. He also moved their meetings out of Council Chambers to a location where their deliberations cannot be televised stating, "I did the best job that was possible to do and the changing of the time was to get it off TV." Another excursion into transparent government.
Let us see how the budget process plays out. Will we be burdened with the proposed 2.8 percent increase in ad valorem tax and additional taxation under the guise of new revenue sources, (government speak for your other pocket) or will we continue to take a hard look at what you can afford rather than succumb to what government wants?
Strange things happen at City Hall. We will soon learn that we were paid a visit by the ghost of Rose Mary Woods.