Optional? What’s that to you?
Been reading a lot lately about how communities around the nation are responding to fiscal stress — what’s being cut, picked up by others, re-invented. Been wondering if I should adopt a nearby house in Clovis, CA, that has been vacant for more than a year and has weeds up to my breastbone (can’t imagine what the indoors must resemble. Yes, it’s been reported to whatever remaining inspectors the city has).
Police, fire, water, sewers, access to health care — the basics, safe assumption that everyone wants that. But what about libraries, parks, clean streets and medians that don’t enhance car wrecks? The Wall Street Journal recently chronicled what’s happening in Colorado Springs, Colo. Such as:
- Residents can adopt a streetlight for $100; so far the city has turned off one-third of 24,512 streetlights.
- Buses no longer running at night or on weekends.
- Volunteers are emptying trash bins at 128 parks.
- The city is trying to persuade a department store to give discounts on riding mowers if purchasers voluntarily mow grass in public parks.
The Modesto Bee has also pointed up consolidation possibilities among municipalities, charging non-residents for emergency medical services, outsourcing of services to reduce pension and other benefits owed to public employees. A Manteca official called the new direction “community-based government” (wasn’t it always supposed to be that?). Interestingly, the traditional news media (papers, TV, radio) have experimented with community- or citizen-based journalism (we all send in our chicken-dinner news and funniest videos) and they digitize it as news. No verdict on the ultimate fiscal success of that.
What level of service are you expecting as another multi-billion-dollar deficit socks the state of California, and what “self-servicing” would you do for your community? I’m looking at those worrisome weeds at the vacant house and wondering what’s a public hazard when there’s nobody at City Hall to look the other way?