Following on Part 1, this second part of my assessment of the Candidates’ Forum has taken time because key city staff members were out of town this week. I also did some verification with a couple of highly involved citizens. I was surprised at how fast and loose Nirmala Bandrapalli was with her comments and here are a few (not all) that stood out as particularly troublesome:
She said the city’s IT outsourcing contract with Redwood City, which costs us about $500,000 per year, could be reduced by 75% (meaning the work could be done for $125,000 per year) and a new finance package would cut staff time in half (see minute 1:08:54). The first assertion is hard to believe. $125,000 per year would barely cover the fully-loaded cost of one low level technician, never mind the equipment, space, software licenses, hardware, security systems and the like for the city. The start-up costs of doing it in-house or outsourcing it to some other agency or vendor would be tremendous. Furthermore, per my questioning, the finance director has assured the city manager that she never quotes forward-looking reduction percentages to anyone.
Bandrapalli’s comment about Broadway improvement was a head-scratcher as well. At minute 46:45 she says Broadway needs a face lift. We just spent millions of dollars in 1998 to completely redo the streetscape including bulb-outs, sidewalks, streetlights, trees and infrastructure.
Another commenter has already revealed Bandrapalli's seemingly-reversible position on rent control. I have pointed Voice readers to minute 34:19 where she flatly states she is against rent control. Yet her supporters (including on the Voice) and one of her opponents heard her say the opposite at the Renters’ Forum. She was challenged on that point during the Rotary Forum and could not explain away the two opposing statements.
One tree fanatic in the audience thought Bandrapalli’s tree comment (51:10) was deceptive. “As a planning commissioner I never let people cut trees, especially protected trees, unless they cannot build their home”. That is per the heritage tree ordinance that has been in place in Burlingame for decades. So what she is really saying is she follows the ordinance on Planning projects. Note that the Beautification commission handles the rest of the city tree issues.
The position around establishing a Senior Commission has already been addressed in the comments to Part 1. Suffice it to say stumping to establish a new commission to replace one that was dissolved due to lack of volunteers is at best questionable politics.
In response to the AirBnB question (59:25) she says some people in Burlingame do AirBnB, but omits that she is a long-time AirBnB operator in her own home. That should have been disclosed and probably would preclude her from voting on any such restrictions due to a conflict of interest.
This post is longer than I would like posts to be, but the mission of the Voice is to educate and inform and sometimes that takes longer than other times. This is one of them.