- Letters to the Editor
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Does anyone in Downey wonder why we adopt sister cities? Mexico and now Ireland! ("Mayor Traveling to Ireland on Official Visit," 4/11/13)
What is the advantage to our city when money is so tight we're threatened with real things of importance being thrown to the wayside? Does anyone in Downey feel good about their tax money being used to send Mayor Mario Guerra to Ireland?
Raise a hand if you like him so much you want to give him $5,000 for this purpose. Oh, I see a hand raised. Who is it? Oh, it's Mario.
He really likes this idea - anyone else?
In resposne to your April 11, 2013 articles regarding the mayor's trip to Ireland and Downey's All-America City delegation headed to Denver, in my opinion, the taxpayers can't afford these types of non-essential expenditures.
Downey was facing an $11 million budget deficit in July 2012. To save money, more than a dozen employees were laid off (including nine fire department personnel), other employees were required to take unpaid furlough days and a fire engine was taken out of service.
I'm pleased to know the city's finances are 10 percent better than originally projected, but don't we still have a long way to go? Only because FEMA granted Downey $1.8 million to hire firefighters and restore the fire engine will the fire department service level be reinstated by July 2013 (one year the residents will have been without that needed protection).
The FEMA monies were a one-time windfall and additional money will be required to continue funding the fire department's restored operation levels next fiscal year. Shouldn't we be saving toward that need now?
I'm happy there are citizens interested in supporting the sister cities and there is now a sixth sister city. Nevertheless, I see that citizens group, Downey Sister Cities Association, as a special interest group and they should fund the entire Ireland trip. If they feel the mayor is needed to represent Downey in Ireland, they should cover his expenses if he can not pay his own expenses.
Additionally, recognition as an All-America City would be nice but again, I don't see how the city's budget can afford the cost of competing for the honor ($15,000 travel expenses and $15,000 in staff time). Even if the planned fundraising efforts are successful, they won't cover the $15,000 in staff time.
I don't think the mayor meeting Ireland's president and an All-America City award (total expenditure by the taxpayers for the two events is estimated between $20,000 and $35,000) will have a substantial impact (if any) on the majority of Downey residents. Councilmen Luis Marquez and Roger Brossmer voted against both trips. I truly believe the majority of Downey voters would support their positions (we'll see at election time).
As Councilman Brossmer said, "these are tough fiscal times and this is not something I'm comfortable in supporting."
Published: April 18, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 01