Monday, August 24, 2009

An Apology

The cemetery debate has inflamed into major proportions, so today I am writing to post an apology.

In last Saturday's post I stated, forcefully, that I and the other city council members want to begin using interest from the perpetual care fund to offset the cemetery subsidy. I recounted my memory of a discussion in which staff -- and all the rest of the room -- misunderstood this position to mean that the council wanted to begin using the principal from this fund.

It appears that it was I, and not the room, who was guilty of the misunderstanding.

I have been advised this morning, by staff, that other council members did request, in other settings, information about using the perpetual care fund principal to offset the cemetery subsidy, and that this was in fact the thrust of Thursday's discussion.

This leaves me wondering whether I have become the octogenarian driver who called his wife on his cell phone to complain that everybody else on the freeway was driving the wrong direction.

But this also puts me in a position of anxiety. While I am deeply concerned for the cemetery, for its long-term maintenance, and for the city's need to find property for expansion, I am equally concerned about a potential breach of promise. I cannot justify raiding the principal of the perpetual care fund. Those who have paid into the perpetual care fund hold certificates guaranteeing that the money will be used as promised, and the City cannot go back on that promise.

But enough of that. This is an apology.

The second reason for the apology is for the life Saturday's post gave to a deeper concern. Readers who follow my husband's blog noted the second-hand analysis of the debate he posted over the weekend, in which he asked, "Is there a serious problem with the staff?"

I hope City staff will take me at my word when I say that I did not intend any personal criticism of their work when I gave a narration of a miscommunication. I did that to give the public a glimpse into the workings of meetings that very few attend.

I stand by what I said in Saturday's post, that we must chalk the miscommunication up to human nature, and move on.

I am not the mayor, and I am not trying to be the mayor. I do not make personnel decisions, but I do work with the personnel he appoints. I have observed many times that our City's growth calls for a much larger staff than our budget supports, and that this puts many of our staff in impossible positions. I would like to solve the problem, but I cannot bring myself to criticize them for their hard work.


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