Just when we were ready to commend Commissioner Julie Farrar for speaking up, a bad thing happened.
She spoke up.
At last week's commission meeting, Farrar commented on the housing debacle, "...this commission never ever was obligated to help those people at all. We had a moral obligation to help those people. ...We're making right what was wrong by someone who worked for the city."
The commission is obligated whether this mess fell on their watch or not, when the new commissioners accepted their seats they took on the obligations of the city. The former employee Farrar refers to was acting as an agent of the city when he approved the distribution of funds to shoddy contractors. His acts, whether dishonest, lazy or incompetent, have cost the city.
If "this" commission isn't responsible, who is? A department head who failed to oversee her employee and who is no longer employed by the city? The city manager who failed to oversee his employees and is no longer employed by the city? The present city manager and commissioners inherited the problem and have worked to correct the problems. But it's not out of the goodness of their hearts or a sense of moral obligation, it's because the city got it wrong the first time and is responsible for how grant money is spent. If the city has the obligation, the commission has it.
Farrar seems to be unclear on what obligations leadership entails and is content to be cheerleader for the work of "this" commission. She's proud of the work that has been done. For "those people." Who exactly are "those people" to whom she refers?
The money to fix the problem is money that could have been spent on other pressing city needs. It is not only the homeowners of the dehabbed houses who have suffered and will continue to suffer because of this mess, but every resident of the city including those who live on the edge of town, the renters and the dissenters.
Oh, by the way, if you add the $1.5 million in Community Housing Improvement Program grants and the $500,000 in Community Block Development grants used for the original "rehab" work to the $844,000 spent so far to fix the original "rehab" work on 47 houses, the average cost per house is $60, 510.63. Take a look at the houses where the work was done and decide for yourself if anyone at the city should be proud of these efforts.