Monday, November 16, 2009

On Akron's New Transparency (By Request)

Jill asks about the back story of this ABJ story last week. The city of Akron is posting regular daily updates of income tax receipts. I have some things to say about a few comments from the interweb now that I'm back on top of things. Might as well start with a friendly one.

This is happening because of a) the fiscal crisis every city is experiencing b) the deep distrust of the Mayor on the part of the public safety unions and c) the highly vocal anti-Plusquellic minority.

It goes like this. Because tax receipts are way down, the city has to make deep cuts. Ultimately those cuts include laying off a number of firefighters. No one is happy about this. We who live in the city really want to have confidence that our houses won't burn down. But a deficit is a deficit.

As unhappy as the residents are, the firefighters are extremely unhappy, and they accuse the administration of not doing everything they can to prevent the layoffs. The antipathy between the Mayor and union leadership cannot be exaggerated. They actually believe he would endanger residents in order to screw over the union.

The debate has taken on a surreal turn as the Mayor's various antagonists have claimed that the administration isn't forthcoming about the city's finances. This echoes the debate throughout the recall effort. Every time the Mayor would answer a charge about city finances, his critics would move the goal posts again.

Jill ventures into the dark place of madness and despair that is the comments section. Needless to say the denizens are unimpressed. Jill is right about the limited capacity of regular folks to objectively interpret information like that being posted. What the posting does offer is the Mayor's critics the opportunity to find someone who does have the chops and have at it.

Not that they will. It's far more enjoyable to just sit back and bitch. Hell, a certain Akron attorney has practically made a career of it.


Jill said...

Scott - thank you for writing about this. Very interesting. So - in general, do you think it's something to be pursued? Obviously I'm thinking about what Pepper Pike 2.0 will be like/should be like.