October 31, 2014

Jared Taylor Blog – Opinion – Pool mess up…

So who’s fired up about the “new pool” mess up? By the conversations I’ve had and overheard at baseball games, Fantastic Sams and neighborhood gatherings a good majority of paying pool members are upset over the apparent paint fiasco. If you aren’t pool members and haven’t heard there was an issue with the new paint that the new section of the Aquatic Center received this year prior to opening that caused the “new pool” to be closed for safety.

I don’t care who screwed up. The pool is a taxpayer funded amenity. Even if you don’t own a pool pass you are paying for the pool through a special tax. The pool pass that allows you to swim costs $140 some odd dollars. With the ridiculously shortened hours of the pool (1pm to 8pm) you really have to spend a lot of time there it get your money’s worth. To say that the good portion of the pool being closed is an inconvience is putting it lightly. It’s kind of crappy. In my opinion, members of the pool should get a refund, pro-rated refund or some sort of voucher for the time that has been shut down. 

If you buy a game to the Royals and it rains you get a ticket voucher for another home game. If you eat bad sushi on your Delta flight and spend the 6 hour flight in the bathroom they give a flight voucher. Good customer service dictates you recieve some in kind compensation for an avoidable mistake.

I wrote a letter to Mayor Drovetta and council members Chris Morrow and Larry Fotovich asking for some reprieve. The response I received from Mayor Drovetta was insulting and un-symphathetic (In fairness don’t think he mean’t it to be that way it just came off that way).  The Mayor replied to my email with “For those individuals with passes who inquired we offered to cancel their pass and provide a full refund.” To me this smacks at beligerance and a general attitude of “you’ll take what we give you”. Most people want to have a pool pass they don’t want to cancel it. They just want value as well. They don’t want a full refund, they want customer service. To request some compensation for goods not delivered is fair and should not met with an attitude of disrespect. I received a more sympathetic follow up by Mr. Fotovich who stated that “A pro-rata refund is in order”. Mr. Morrow hadn’t responded at the writing of this blog piece.

In the grand scheme of things this isn’t that big of a deal however, by all accounts it matters to most of the residents of Gardner. Despite the City saying discounted daily admissions are being offered there are reports to the contrary. The pool is a community place, built by tax payers and funded by pool pass owners. All we want is a “we’re really sorry” and then throw us a bone. We deserve it, we pay for it!

Comments

  1. Just as concerned says:

    So are you saying I should get a refund on my taxes when they shut down Moonlight at the railroad tracks? Or some reprieve when the power goes out and I am unable to work from home? Mistakes happen, and the result is a bit of pain, but only for a short time to prevent someone from becoming seriously hurt. Don’t worry, the city is paying their dues on this one. The paint that has to be repurchased, mixed with sand and reapplied is not cheap. It will be my tax money that repays all the people with pool passes that could not use the pool for 3 days. The reality of it is that you hate the current group in office so much that you will find any excuse to cause an uproar against them. Is this somehow the mayors fault? You are overly critical of the man. Be critical about the poor job he is doing, not the things that are not his fault.

  2. Well, Jared, this will tell you once again you recalled the wrong person. You wouldn’t have to use lies and hate to recall Drovetta – just the facts. You may not care who screwed up but I DO. The closing of the pool is minor to the seriousness of the real issue – the safety of our citizens while utilizing the municipal pool. And even more serious is how you have a dictator running your city with all of the resulting adverse affects. You can’t see the forest for the trees, Taylor, as usual…………

  3. Bad Situation says:

    The City of Gardner was negligent. Period. They knew the pool was slick and they continued to allow patrons to swim in that pool until someone was injured and an ambulance had to be called. It should never have happened. Someone needs to held accountable but no one wants to step up to the plate. It sounds to me like the mayor is trying to brush the issue under the rug when he along with the Parks and Recreation Director owe the citizens an honest explanation and an apology! As the heading says……SPEAK YOUR MIND!

  4. Concerned says:

    It has been shut down for a week now and we have not been able to go. This is what summer is all about and should have been taken care of before the pool opened for the season. When inquiring about refunds and such we were told there would be none contrary to what the Mayor has told us.

  5. Thanks all for the comments on this blog post. I’ve been getting some comments on Facebook from folks who have raised the concern of Concerned about being told no refunds will be given. If you are being told that you need to go directly to the Parks and Rec department. You will get better results there.

    I still don’t think giving full refunds and canceling the pool pass is the right response here. My family and I want to go to the pool, that’s why we bought the pass. We just want fair value not only for our tax money but also for the pass we bought. A pro rated refund or even a voucher for a free nacho or drink would go a long way. That is just good customer service.

    @Just as concerned: you’re actually misinformed. I actually like the current governing body and make up of it. I’m not entirely happy with the results so far but it is still new. I generally think the mix of personalities is good so far.

  6. GardnerPride says:

    @Concerned. I was there Monday evening when they were shutting the pool down at 7, it had been open the rest of the afternoon. If they are able to open this weekend, then that’s well under a week.

    My biggest concern at this point is whether the paint supplier is being held responsible. If we used the same supplies and procedure as 2007 with different results, then someone needs to be held accountable for that.

    I don’t believe any sort of refund is in order, and don’t expect one as a season pass holder. There are roughly 100 days in the pool season, and assuming they are open again this weekend, 4 days will have been lost. Inconvenient…yes, but I don’t believe a refund is in order. I think it’s petty for someone to demand a full refund of their pool pass because of 4 lost days.

    Perhaps a concession voucher, but I’m just happy they are fixing the issue.

    I would like to see the Parks & Rec Commission create some sort of contingency plan for this sort of closing in the future. Perhaps an agreement could be worked out with Springhill or Olathe where our pools could serve as backup solutions in times of unexpected closure.

  7. Accountable says:

    If it was the contractor’s fault that painted the pool I hope they repainted it at no cost. However I know the city employees repainted it so I’m suspecting the city is at fault. If that is the case someone needs to lose their job.

    Lose of revenue, potential lawsuits, medical costs to kids that were hurt, just plain laziness….

  8. The city is at fault because they should have had the good sense to know to put sand or some other material in the paint to avoid slippage – they don’t need to be blaming the contractor – the city is the one setting up the specifications for the contract. This issue is just another symptom of the real disease but people don’t want to face that fact or be held accountable for that either……..you will continue to address crap like this while the real problem is not addressed and you could and will end up paying a huge, huge price for your cronyism, inept government.

  9. CharlieK says:

    Personally I just think it’s sad that people are going far enough to demand partial refunds for a few missed days of swimming. If your biggest complaint in life is that you won’t be able to go swimming for a week you should consider youself lucky. Does no one else in this town have anything better to do than complain?

    Besides, those partial refunds & free nachos you are wanting are coming out of your pocket anyway. As you said Jared we pay for the pool twice. Once through pool passes and again through taxes. So really you will be paying for the ‘free’ nachos at the end of the year anyway.

  10. Again, I will remind all citizens to be WELL INFORMED as to how their city government is run and those running it. The following article will give you another learning opportunity.

    *******************************************************
    Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo, accused of illegally boosting his pension, sits in court in March. Rizzo was at the center of a scandal in which it was revealed that he and other Bell officials were being paid many times more than their counterparts in other cities. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / March 9, 2011)

    By Hector Becerra, Los Angeles Times

    June 1, 2011
    When former Vernon City Administrator Bruce Malkenhorst was convicted of misappropriating public funds last week, the gap between two sets of numbers immediately jumped out: The $100,000 in fines and restitution that Malkenhorst was ordered to pay for his crime. And the $500,000 a year state pension that he got after retiring five years ago.

    The 76-year-old former public official had one thing going for him: He wasn’t elected to his position. Had Malkenhorst been elected, it’s very likely that his state pension would have been revoked or reduced.

    “The law states that pensions are revoked if an elected official is convicted of a felony, but not in the case” of a non-elected employee, said Brad Pacheco, a spokesman for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Malkenhorst “would continue to receive his pension according to the law.”

    When Malkenhorst stepped down in 2005 amid a criminal investigation by L.A. County prosecutors, he was making about $912,000 a year. Now he collects the highest public pension in California: $509,664. His attorney, Michael Artan, said in an interview last week that Malkenhorst earned his compensation from the city, which thrived under his client’s tenure running City Hall.

    The issue of the public pensions of those convicted of or charged with felonies came to the public’s attention after a massive salary scandal broke out last summer in the city of Bell, one of Vernon’s neighbors in Southeast Los Angeles County.

    The Times revealed that City Administrator Robert Rizzo made about $800,000 a year, and that his total compensation swelled to about $1.5 million with other benefits. Rizzo was on track to collect $600,000 through CalPERS, though a “supplemental pension” he designed for himself and other Bell officials could have pushed his pension to $1 million a year.

    Rizzo’s potential pension, in particular, fed into the heated issue of public employee pensions, and concerns that the rising costs of pensions as well as retiree healthcare could overwhelm the ability of taxpayers to fund many basic health, welfare and public safety services.

    In the wake of the scandal, state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) proposed a bill that would strip the pension benefits of public officials who are convicted of misusing public funds. The bill, SB115, died in a state Senate committee in May, with two Republicans voting for it and three Democrats against.

    The bill drew the opposition of various employee groups, including the AFL-CIO, the California Professional Firefighters and the California State Employees Assn. They and the lawmakers who voted against the bill argued that it discriminated against public employees relative to private employees and said such a law would harm the “innocent spouse and family of the convicted officer who will lose their financial security.”

    Strickland said he was “shocked” that the bill was killed.

    “State law affects judges and elected officials, but not people like Rizzo,” he said. “The argument about the family is a weak argument that can apply to any person convicted of a crime. Families are always affected when you talk about criminals.”

    Even though the bill died, it’s still possible that Rizzo will be denied his full pension.

    L.A. County prosecutors have accused Rizzo and his deputy, Angela Spaccia, of conspiring to illegally boost their pensions. The pair worked with a Wells Fargo & Co. consultant in Tennessee to craft a retirement plan that would “avoid the laws capping pension amounts,” “conceal its purpose from the public” and be “structured so that it could not be repealed or altered by any Bell City Council in the future,” prosecutors said in court papers.

    Rizzo and Spaccia denied any wrongdoing. But if Rizzo is convicted of fraudulently boosting his pension, state retirement officials would have cause to consider revoking or reducing some or all of the pension.

  11. GardnerPride says:

    Just drove by the pool and it looks like they are open for business today.

  12. Jared TAylor says: “I don’t care who screwed up.” It is way past time for citizens to care – every time you turn your head from the wrongdoing and the screwups then you are supporting and condoning poor management and government.

    Review the following article – do you think someone should be held accountable for this screwup? This loss of billions starts right in your own backyard when you aren’t speaking out when you should on important issues at the local level.

    *********************************************************

    By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

    June 13, 2011
    Reporting from Washington— After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush administration flooded the conquered country with so much cash to pay for reconstruction and other projects in the first year that a new unit of measurement was born.

    Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

    This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash — enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.

    For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

    The mystery is a growing embarrassment to the Pentagon, and an irritant to Washington’s relations with Baghdad. Iraqi officials are threatening to go to court to reclaim the money, which came from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations’ oil-for-food program.

    It’s fair to say that Congress, which has already shelled out $61 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for similar reconstruction and development projects in Iraq, is none too thrilled either.

    “Congress is not looking forward to having to spend billions of our money to make up for billions of their money that we can’t account for, and can’t seem to find,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who presided over hearings on waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq six years ago when he headed the House Government Reform Committee.

    Theft of such a staggering sum might seem unlikely, but U.S. officials aren’t ruling it out. Some U.S. contractors were accused of siphoning off tens of millions in kickbacks and graft during the post-invasion period, especially in its chaotic early days. But Iraqi officials were viewed as prime offenders.

    The U.S. cash airlift was a desperation measure, organized when the Bush administration was eager to restore government services and a shattered economy to give Iraqis confidence that the new order would be a drastic improvement on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

    The White House decided to use the money in the so-called Development Fund for Iraq, which was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to hold money amassed during the years when Hussein’s regime was under crippling economic and trade sanctions.

    The cash was carried by tractor-trailer trucks from the fortress-like Federal Reserve currency repository in East Rutherford, N.J., to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, then flown to Baghdad. U.S. officials there stored the hoard in a basement vault at one of Hussein’s former palaces, and at U.S. military bases, and eventually distributed the money to Iraqi ministries and contractors.

    But U.S. officials often didn’t have time or staff to keep strict financial controls. Millions of dollars were stuffed in gunnysacks and hauled on pickups to Iraqi agencies or contractors, officials have testified.

    House Government Reform Committee investigators charged in 2005 that U.S. officials “used virtually no financial controls to account for these enormous cash withdrawals once they arrived in Iraq, and there is evidence of substantial waste, fraud and abuse in the actual spending and disbursement of the Iraqi funds.”

    Pentagon officials have contended for the last six years that they could account for the money if given enough time to track down the records. But repeated attempts to find the documentation, or better yet the cash, were fruitless.

    Iraqi officials argue that the U.S. government was supposed to safeguard the stash under a 2004 legal agreement it signed with Iraq. That makes Washington responsible, they say.

    Abdul Basit Turki Saeed, Iraq’s chief auditor and president of the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit, has warned U.S. officials that his government will go to court if necessary to recoup the missing money.

    “Clearly Iraq has an interest in looking after its assets and protecting them,” said Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States.

  13. Just wondering says:

    Jared, is there a reason that you didn’t send your letter to all of the city council members? Wondering why you would only pick and choose the mayor and only a couple of the council members. Would have been interesting to hear how the other council members would have responded as well.

  14. Gardner says:

    Wow…Jared Taylor, you are a true example of a genuine idiot.

  15. In Topeka all families living under the poverty level get a free pool pass. Lawrence, situation gets several free pool passes a year.

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