After 100 days serving as a City Council Member in Desert Hot Springs, I have remained committed to my campaign platform of greater transparency in city government, public safety, and economic development with a focus to jobs. I tell everyone who contacts me to get involved and help me work on these areas.
We must envision and agree to build what we expect Desert Hot Springs to be, a great community in which to live and work. A city government without transparency and citizen education and engagement is a recipe for failure.
American philosopher Josiah Royce once described his vision for building a community, saying, “I believe in the beloved community and in the spirit which makes it beloved, and in the communion of all who are, in will and in deed, its members. I see no community as yet, but nonetheless my rule of life is: ‘Act so as to hasten its coming’.”
Great communities result from people being drawn together by a common vision and acting upon it. This vital process can best be achieved when government is accessible and listens, creating a non-threatening municipal atmosphere that solicits the free flow of ideas. Effective council members genuinely take interest in the opinions expressed by citizens, seeking to ensure their decisions represent the greater public good. Municipal government can only be as effective as it’s city council is in building relationships with a well-informed public.
The following are three areas in which the city council can take immediate actions to garner more public trust and confidence in our city government:
• The “Register of Demands” for most cities is a daily accounting of money transactions. To make government more transparent, the “Register” should be made a permanent part of the City Municipal Code.
• A reduction of the city manager’s spending limit from $30K to $5K would result in more budget items in public view, resulting in tighter spending control authorizations similar to other valley cities.
• More cities are establishing “citizen budget committees” tasked to recommend budget suggestions and monitoring the city’s annual budget. The current city budget committee consists of only the mayor and mayor pro-tem. Desert Hot Springs currently faces a $2.5 million budget deficit for FY 2012-2013.
Reducing crime is a top priority for residents, which is the primary reason I elected to chair the city’s Youth Violence and Gang Intervention Committee. Safe cities are a magnet for economic development. We must continue to make safety a top priority.
Our residents want our municipal government to be more accountable and responsive to public requests. If the city is truly committed to adhering to the California Public Records Act, by example, it should be much easier than it is today to obtain public records.
If we believe, as Royce, in “the beloved community”; we too must “act so as to hasten its coming”. How do we do it? Well, for starters we need to speak in one voice, our values and vision for Desert Hot Springs. The one voice I speak of should include everyone who lives in or has a stake in this city’s future.
Please join me in the “spirit and communion” to make Desert Hot Springs a thriving and vibrant community. I look forward to hearing from you. I am at your service.
City Council Member
Desert Hot Springs