The American Dream
For so many of us the American Dream has become the American Nightmare.
My oldest son is grateful to have a job but disappointed at not having better prospects. My cousin in Texas was laid off at the age of 55. In order to get the “exit” package after 15 years of employment he had to sign a contract saying he wouldn’t sue them on age discrimination charges. My friend in Chicago, also 55, was laid off with no severance since he had only worked there 4 years. One of my dearest friends in Michigan was on General Motors retirement only to be told they pulled the medical contribution and life insurance they carried so no death benefit whatsoever. Too many friends to list here who lost retirement benefits, money on their investments and one friend who lost everything she had in the Madoff scandal.
I’m sure we all have stories like this and as we all take a collective breath we must learn how to go forward, start over, accept a different picture of what life was suppose to look like and try to keep the resentment and disappointment at bay.
When I look at the plans our state has…….take however and whatever they legally can from our city, I do feel resentment. When I look at how hard the City of Foster City has worked to keep steady, keep our reserves healthy and keep our city healthy I resent that we are being placed in the circumstances we find ourselves in.
For example, the state has found a way to ask us for an additional $4 for each parking ticket our police department writes. When staff came to city council to ask us to approve raising the fee for our parking tickets by $4 we had hardly a choice so reluctantly we approved the increase. What our residents have to understand is that the City of Foster City does not get that extra $4 since it goes directly to the state. It is only the beginning of their clever way to squeeze more money out of our cities. Since we passed proposition 22 in the last election that stopped them from taking local funds (they took 5.6 million from us last year), they will find other ways to fix their (ultimately our) budget.
As a councilmember I feel powerless to change anything at the state or federal level however I will be diligent in trying to stop them from stealing from us.
Foster City will be seeing some subtle changes soon. There was a sign on the bathrooms of all our parks stating they would be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. A resident called to say she was incensed that we would do such a thing…….however we have no approved overtime for said service and no one on call those days so that is the result. There will be more inconveniences, there will be some unhappy people and some disappointed staff in our future if we approve the budget as proposed. However I’m proud of our past and current leaders because we have not looked the other way when planning the future and our reserves will cover the unexpected for a couple of years until we can “right the ship”. It will NOT be business as usual in Foster City for quite some time.
As 2011 is upon us I ask for your patience, I ask that when faced with changes you set some of the entitlement attitude aside you might have, I ask that you trust that those of us you voted for have your best interest as our main goal, I ask that if you have any comments on the job that we, or I, am doing you direct them to me not your neighbors so we can address them.
Kudos to Laura Galli, in our Public Works Department, for fielding ALL your calls regarding our new garbage hauler. One ongoing comment is that residents really liked Allied Waste so let me say again…..their contract was up this year and we went out to bid with nine other cities. Recology had the lowest bid!!! Thanks to you and all who have answered our resident’s questions.
The other morning in neighborhood 8 I asked Recology employee, Sergio, if we were putting our cans out correctly. He smiled and said 80% were not……just remember, wheels against the curb, lid opens to the street!!! Incidentally, what I did wrong was they were too close together……they need to be 24” apart, mine were about 12”. He then demonstrated how when the arm coming off the truck to pick up the can needs that amount of clearance or it knocks over the can next to it. This is a learning process so I thought I would pass on his comments.
With so many in serious trouble I sincerely hope we can all live with some disappointment as our lives continue to unfold from moment to moment in the year 2011…….don’t let go of the dream!!!
Comments……email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 12, 2011
The American Dream
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Foster City, CA 94404