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Park worker rep questions city budgeting

Submitted by on 1, December 11, 2008 – 8:00 amNo Comment

Looks like the firefighters aren’t the only city workers up in arms over city leaders’ handling of our budget woes: Turns out a union rep for the parks workers slated to lose their jobs after a private company takes over the Chuck Corica Golf Complex in January have a thing or two to say about it too.

A little background: In the face of what they see as the golf complex’s money-losing ways, the City Council voted last month to turn it over to a private company to manage for a year as a prelude to a more long-term arrangement. But it’s not just the golf workers who will be among the 16 people losing their jobs. Because of the way the system works, some of those golf folk will “bump” over to Recreation & Parks, which means a whole bunch of park maintenance workers are set to be pink-slipped.

Needless to say, one of the union leaders representing them is not happy. And the union leader – Mike Richina, a board member for the Alameda City Employees Association and a city employee for 18 years (he’ll stay employed) – is questioning how the city got itself in this fine mess in the first place and asking for alternative solutions to its budget problems.

Per Richina:

We all know that the economy is bad, but the decisions that this city has made prior to the golf course issues have made it worse. I feel that public needs to get more involved and to start looking at where these cuts are made, where the bigger money is and what the issues really are concerning the city’s financial future.

Those decisions, he said, include the chain of events that led Alameda Power & Telecom to lose $60 million in the cable business. And the bigger money? Richina points to the police and fire departments, where the pay is much higher than his own.

Richina’s also questioning the council’s stance on the golf course.

They claim the course is losing money, yet they pulled out enough to pay for a fire truck and legal fees for the Belt Line litigation, he said. If something is losing money, then why would you deplete what money it has?

City leaders said during the campaign for Measure P, which will raise the city’s property transfer tax, that we can expect more budget cuts even with that money. And Richina wants every city department to work together to close that budget gap. He said we need more long-term solutions for our financial problems. Says Richina:

You know, just maybe if all the departments could come together on this, we could solve this together.

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