Zaragoza’s first 100 days: Is it enough time?

June 11, 2009


People love to scrutinize politicians. I think their every move is followed even more closely than those of our Hollywood stars, because the decisions they make can directly affect our livelihoods and finances.

The big thing this month was poring over every minutia of Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, right down to the very last detail. In Ventura County, we have John Zaragoza, our Fifth District supervisor who unseated longtime incumbent John Flynn last November after years on the Oxnard City Council. Zaragoza’s campaign was hailed by his supporters much like those for the president … a candidate for change.

He’s also been equally microscoped, especially by the pro-Flynn camp, for his first 100 days, where people wait for any kind of procedural slip up, political gaffe, or groundbreaking victory.

Zaragoza had an update this morning, at a chamber of commerce breakfast, on his 3 month-plus run, giving an interesting, if a bit predictable, repartee on the machinations of his office, constituency goals and what he’s accomplished so far.

It’s debatable if he’s done much headline-grabbing stuff worthy of note, which begs the questions: is he ineffective, or is 100 days not enough time?

Consider this: it’s only 100 days out of a 1,460-day, 4-year term. An appraisal of our president might work for something like this, but let’s face it: he’s the President, in charge of the whole country.

Zaragoza is in charge of just one section of one county in all of the State of California.

And I know it’s tradition and all to do the 100-day thing, but some traditions are just dumb.

Zaragoza can take credit, so far, for planting seeds and taking small steps in his new position. What’s he done in 100 days? According to the supervisor this morning, he began partnering with 8 boards and commissions; appointing people to the same; done some field work on Capitol Hill in Sacramento; furthered the sewer project in our unincorporated regions; and the biggie, re-instating the El Rio Municipal Advisory Council.

The supervisor also showed his chops at understanding financial matters, evidenced by his breakdown of Ventura County’s budget. Using a pie as metaphor, he went on to demonstrate how a healthy, $1.64 billion general fund can dwindle down to $78 million in discretionary dollars through payments, cuts and the like.

Basically, the pie is almost gone when the county’s finance department is through with it.

If real change is enacted in the Fifth District, it will come from some big time curtailing of gang violence; getting El Rio and Nyeland Acres hooked up and running on their own sewer systems; dredging the harbor; and making sure Oxnard city officials don’t get away with more wasteful spending.

It might take a hell of a lot longer than another 100 days, though.


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