There goes another $96,500 for nothing

April 8, 2009

Remember the movie Dave? Kevin Kline, a dead ringer for the President, is brought in as the chief of staff’s doppelganger and ends up, for the most part, doing a better job at executive decision making than the real guy, fooling everyone in the process.

In one scene, during a round table meeting in the White House, “President” Dave finds a way to conserve some funds by eliminating a federally subsidized marketing team whose sole purpose is to make auto consumers, through pointless advertising, feel better about their new purchases.

Dave’s common sense reasoning: Why pay someone to make you feel good about something you already feel good about?

When it was released, the movie was timely for its reflection on early 1990s, Clinton-era politics and the recession the United States faced then.

Watching it now, it resonates just as well with the fiscal struggles our country is having today.

So why, then, has the Thousand Oaks City Council given the go-ahead to spend over $96,000 to hire a consultant to boost business at The Lakes Shopping Center?

Yesterday, the council voted 4-1 to bring on board members of the Concord Group to help revitalize the immediate Thousand Oaks Boulevard area, where they hope to make the upscale Lakes center more economically viable to residents of T.O. Residents, that is, who are upper middle class at least.

That means people who live in Thousand Oaks have no problem affording the gourmet food and designer wares at the shopping strip with more than enough cash to spare. So why should we hire someone to make them feel that it’s OK to spend money that they’re already spending with abandon?

Now, this may sound bitter on my behalf, but in these economic times of 2009, every penny should be conserved for where it’s needed most. So what if the city’s mayor called it a “sinking hole”? Thousand Oaks is like Beverly Hills relative to Oxnard, which could use $96,000 for gang prevention or infrastructure improvements or environmental protection from slag heaps and toxic emissions. Not feel-good consumerism.

It’s good to know, like on many city councils, there was at least one voice of reason who cast the dissenting vote, and that was Claudia Bill-de la Peña. But it the end, lone votes like de la Pena’s are effective in making a statement on the problem, and not, unfortunately, in what is actually decided upon.

What I’d like to know is: where’s another “Dave” when you need him?

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