A commentary for SewardCityNews.com by Tim McDonald
Councilman Robert Thomas takes exception to my public comments that “I smell Pork sizzling” at the last city council meeting.
Also he accused me of inflating the estimates for new Ballaine Blvd replacement picnic pavilions to $500,000 each when estimates are less.
First. I was quoting the city manager from the previous council meeting, he said something to the effect that the pavilions would cost less than $500,000, being rather vague. At the last council meeting I said the pavilions would cost upwards of $500,000 a piece. If recent Seward history is any guide, the pavilions would come in finished at well over budget and cost us much more than one million dollars for the two of them.
Second. The pork comment. Councilman Thomas said himself he’s new to the Seward political scene, (i.e. he wasn’t here when the pavilions were torn down several years ago.) So maybe he is ignorant of Seward political history. The two Ballaine Blvd. picinic pavilions were ordered torn down by the same city engineer (now deceased) that oversaw construction of Kawabe Park, a bloated, overbudget project – where the city is buying $500,000 toilets etc.
A previous Seward mayor, mayor while the Kawabe Park project was ongoing, his common law wife who was a landscape architect received upwards of $30,000 for concept drawings and consultings. Then the city engineer set her work aside and didn’t use it anyway. Not to mentions what the engineers were paid on the project. If that ain’t pork, baby, I don’t know what is.
The old picnic pavilions were very serviceable and could easily and safetly been saved, at a moderate cost. Well, they’re gone now.
Our Seward city school is in crisis. The city of Seward contributed $1,000 to the middle school library for books. At the last council meeting council passed a resolution to contribute $1,000 to Hooper Bay, Alaska toward recent catastrophic fire damage. At this point, with more pressing priorities like roads and schools, why not forgo the new picnic pavilions for an additional year or two – or not, both pavilions could be built with volunteer labor.
The million dollars saved not building the pavilions could be given to our local school $900,000 and $100,000 to Hooper Bay for disaster relief. This has the added benefit of helping all families in the Seward service area who contribute greatly to city coffers through the electrical enterprise fund and other city fees and our travesty of a local representitive government.
Let’s really make a difference instead of squandering our money and offering token assistance.
So, councilman Thomas, with all due respect, I do hope all this is just part of your learning curve. If you are defending this kind of spending, you are part of the problem.
Candidate for City Council