How the City Council Spends Time
updated: Mar 07, 2017, 9:49 AM
By James Fenkner
On January 10, 2017 I came to the Santa Barbara City Council to complain that rate payers were being fleeced
by another change order for the over budget and delayed Desalinization plant. This $10 million dollar change
order was particularly strange for a couple of reasons: not only was in not based on any competitive bids, but
the numbers were clearly out of whack with reality. For example, the largest charge of $5.1 million was to
replace conduit ( i.e. protective piping) from the desal to the ocean intake pumps. This overcharge worked
out to over $1,000 a foot, millions of dollars more than what horizontal drillers in the south coast would have
bid for such a service.
During my two minutes of public comment, I complained to the City Council about the lack of oversight and
questioned whether city staff had a fiduciary duty to the rate payers of Santa Barbara and if not, why city
council didn't insist they look out for the rate payer's financial interests. I was shocked that our city council
signed-off on these high and questionable overcharges so quickly.
Upon returning home, i decided to log onto the City live TV web site and saw this very same city council
spending amazing amounts of time discussing a trash can on 129 E Anapamu Street. I was flabbergasted at
the real life example of Parkinsons' Law of Triviality. After a few weeks of boring my friends to death about
this story of misguided city council priorities, I decided it might be worth while showing people the actual
video clips. With the help of my tech-savy daughter, we spent the previous rainy weekend stiching it
together. I apologize if the soundtrack is a bit scratchy and hope that the humor is not lost in frustration.
Maybe it will help others open their eyes to the fact that our City Council does not represent the multitalented
and thoughtful people of this beautiful and unique town.
If there is interest in more such videos, let me know. If no one cares or thinks this level of governance is just
fine, that would be good to know too. Thank you for watching and bring on the good ol Edhat feedback!