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September 29, 2005

Comments

Mary

If you watched tonight's council meeting on merging Millbrae and Burlingame Park Rec departments, you saw the difference between a councilwoman who has done her homework (Baylock) and one who just wants to do what she wants to do (O'Mahoney) regardless of whether it can be supported by financials, community experience or experience with the programs.

Baylock raised about 20 specific issues with the presentation and O'Mahoney demonstrated that she knows math, but doesn't know finance. When the director said "Good catch" about a key element that was missing, they should have just sent the whole thing back for rework, but O'Mahoney's mind is made up..........and then she went on to attack the one unique aspect of the Millbrae program (the senior bus) as too expensive to keep! How do you contradict yourself and then just keep pushing on?

phil silverbarb

Really. I think we should create that new superintendent position and give it to RANDY, and go find us a manager who can actually manage a multi-million dollar budget.

Jen

It's not his fault. I think that the fact that so many people have not bothered to attend the 4 or 5 meetings held, is because they were labeled "study", or were part of much longer sessions. Also, perhaps they didn't understand the term "shared services". I didn't even understand it. Alarms should have gone off in my head.

Combining Fire and Police is one thing, but the park and recreation programs, our cities treasures, is quite another. I saw lots of public remarks on the Staff report, that didn't seem to be addressed. I'll bet none of my neighbors know anything about this. They are seniors, and take lots of classes at our center. They all walk to the rec. center. Some don't drive anymore. I wonder if merging means they'd need to drive or learn to drive, to get to a class, now offered only in Millbrae? My parents take bridge classes in Millbrae, because my Dad thinks their chairs are more comfortable. Great! he can take their classes and pay a few extra dollars as a non-resident. I think that is fine. He's a senior anyway and they get subsidized.

The whole thing has not really been presented outside of a fairly limited group. This should not be called "shared services", or a "merge." It should say it in plain black and white. "We are seriously considering combining Burlingame and Millbrae's Park and Rec Depts. and would like feedback on the issue." Then, we will have a large attendance by people who simply didn't understand what was meant. Lots are seniors. Those most affected need a chance to learn about this, and speak up about it.

I was very glad that Cathy brought up all those questions, and that Terry wants to wait for a new council to deal with this. That only seems fair. Randy has done a lot of work, but I wonder how it got so far without really having the general public aware of what was happening. It's all in the name, let's not be crytic!

phil silverbarb

I hate to disagree, but I must. Randy is in way over his head. He's great with the programs but this is actual planning and management. It's not his forte, never will be. And the seniors cannot possibly give real input. We are talking about most of a million dollars a year. They're focused on the $5 or $7 surcharge they pay. That's why we need responsible and smart administrators and council people. That position pays plenty to get good help.

Resident


Just a catch in the previous comment:
"And the seniors cannot possibly give real input" -- I'm assuming you don't mean to imply that people beyond a certain age shouldn't weigh in on an issue, or can't understand complex issues, right? Only people say, younger than 65? 45? should be allowed to comment? How about teens? Shall we assume that they are too young to weigh in on the issue?

Jen - I think you're on to something, but I don't think that simply renaming the topic will necessarily draw a larger audience -- I do think those council members who want to outreach to the community (clearly not Rosalie in this case) should raise the issue with their consituents online (through this forum and/or their respective websites), as well as through coffee-talks, study sessions, etc. I'm assuming we'll see more of that proactive "outreach" effort with some of the candidates running for office (so long as we vote for them)...

Another Resident

Even when we try to stay informed it seems hard to keep up with everything. So YES I want a council person who reaches out and clearly asks the community its opinion on these topics. From the prior posts it appears that the Parks and Rec service is in danger of being merged with Millbrae. My first question, is how much money is this expected to save each year? My second question is if it looks like we should merge with someone why would we ever tie ourselves to a sinking ship? (Millbrae's financial difficulties have been well demonstrated) This merger sounds like it should be SLOWED down big time.

interested on chapin

I didn't go to the "study" for the reasons Jen mention. Beside Terry, Cathy and Rosalie, what other Councel members and/or candidates attended? And what are their positions? I hope this will come up at Thursdays forum.

Jen

Dear Chapin, I didn't go to those sessions either, but did hear about some of them. So, I couldn't tell you who went, or how many residents were there. I go to so many meetings anyway. The title didn't peak my interest. My fault.

To me "study" means just that. It means to investigate a topic, in this case what a "merger" would do, (fact finding.) In this city, it may well mean something different: a type of council session where only one issue will be dealt with. I did not attend, because I figured there would be a larger discussion, or Action item where we'd be able to get down to the real knitty gritty. Still it was unclear to me, if the general public can have more of a say (like a vote) or if just the seated council gets to vote.

Instead, this seems like it may be a decision some members of the rec. dept and/or council want anyway, and they are just going to punch up the numbers until they look decent enough to justify doing this to the public. I had no idea that sending Randy to Millbrae two years ago was the predecessor to merging an entire program. I really must have missed the boat on this.

Randy said something on the order of 100-150K could be saved per year, but he was careful to say he there were several unknowns, thus he couldn't guarantee it. He also hedged when Rosalie asked him if he could guarantee that the quality of service would not be compromised. Of course he cannot guarantee that! Who could?

Convenience for me is paramount, and I am not a senior. I love the fact that my kids, (and I) can walk to all these great classes, without getting in the car. Am I spoiled? Yes! But that is why we like living here. Millbrae for us is far away. I have no desire to go take classes there if I can stay here. If there is a great class over there, that isn't offered here, I'd be happy to drive over there, and register as a non-resident. It's fine by me, just as it is.

Phil is certainly correct when he says that many Seniors look at the bottom line (price) to determine whether they'd be affected or not. For the most part, our seniors really are frugal. Even is they have money they are careful.

But it is also fair to say that many need to know that this "merge" comes with a price, too. That may mean less convenience for them, something most of them really care about, particularly when they have more and more difficulty getting to things, as the years go by. If they would be aware of all the facts, many may be more than willing to pay the extra $$ to keep courses close by.

How much money has been spent on Randy and others investigating this? Probably a lot. I think this was done backwards. Some basic information should have been gathered, and then, just like Jim Nantell said, we should have had a heart to heart with the community, and asked if they'd want this, before getting so hung up in it.

Annamarie

What about Village Park Preschool; does this mean that Millbrae residents get the same weight as Burlingame when is comes to registration? There aren't nearly enough slots for Burlingame as it is. This affects way more than the seniors, it affects our little ones greatly.

phil silverbarb

Resident, my apologies for being unclear. Seniors are critical to gathering input on the use of the services, what they like and don't like and such. But Another Resident caught most of my idea. When we are talking about finding efficiencies in big budgets, staffing ratios, designing two city organizations, deciding how long parts of the job should take and such, I doubt the seniors or the juniors will have much insight.

Ricardo Ortiz

Millbrae rec is much closer to my house than Blgm. According to Mapquest it is 2.1 miles from Broadway and El Camino to the Millbrae Rec. This is only slightly more than the 1.67 mi to Blgm Rec. So the distance issue is not for all. Mills Estates, Ray Park, Burlingame Village and a large part of Easton Addition are actually closer to Millbrae. How much money did they talk about saving? My kids use the Rec. constantly and I love all the services and options. I seems reasonalbe to me for two small cities to share services. It might mean Jen has to drive 3.77 miles to Millbrae for pottery but the savings and increased options might make sense.

Jen

My concern is that there will be so many meetings, and so much staff time devoted to this project, at least initially, that the savings won't pan out to be as great as they think.

It is irritating to me, to not be able to reach staff, because they are busy in a meeting. This is already happening with Randy. He is either in meetings, or traveling between centers. We really need the facts and we need to weigh it all out. Annamarie, the only thing that was clear last night was that the Pre-school you refer to would not be affected. That would only be for Burlingame kids, unless there was extra room available.

Cathy also mentioned that we are a different city than Millbrae, with a different population. It will be difficult to make a one size fits all where both cities retain the programs they like best. I like the idea of baby steps, combining those parts that don't directly affect those who use the facilities. But much more needs to be explored before they decide anything, I think.

Annamarie

Thanks, Jen. So sorry I missed the meeting, I would like to see Cathy's points. Any chance you can post them?

Jen

It was all math and accounting. She's good at that. I couldn't have taken that many notes!

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