Community Essay : Upland Can Blame It All On City Hall--Literally : When it comes to office space, enter the Peter Principle--residents can thank bureaucrats for a building they don’t need and a community they don’t recognize.

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It was the City Hall. That is what did it. The City Hall is what ruined Upland. Before they built the City Hall. Upland was a nice little town. A folksy place. And Upland did not need a fancy new City Hall. Nor could Upland afford such a fancy City Hall. But some of those professional management “types” came to town and sold a bill of goods to gullible members of the City Council. So, Upland got the City Hall it did not need. And that is what ruined Upland.

The trouble with the new City Hall is space. With all that office space, if they did not use it, then the bureaucrats would look foolish. They just had to go out and import a lot more bureaucrats so as to justify building the City Hall. And when it comes to office space, here the Peter Principle applies: “Government staffing expands until all available office space has been filled.” (Then they buy more space.) So the bureaucrats brought in a steady stream of hired mercenaries. These professionals, like them, did not know the people of Upland and did not want to know them. They came only to make a buck; as soon as anyone offered them more money, they’d pack up and move on.

It was really quite a chore to find excuses to hire professionals just to fill up all that unneeded space. So they went to other cities and learned about all sorts of functions that the city did not really need. They would eagerly read each issue of “California City” so as to find out “what the well-dressed city will wear.” Soon our little town of Upland sported all the stylish accouterments of a big city! And the unfortunate citizens of Upland were compelled to get used to enduring all these “functions” bestowed upon them against their wills by these “public servants” to justify their place at the public trough. “How many ways may I serve thee; let me count the ways!”


And so, from all over California, managers of all kinds streamed into City Hall. They filled up all the office space and began their job of ruling over their new domain. To Upland residents these were “professional” people who did not know nor like the longtime residents of Upland. So they communicated with the people as little as possible. And the people of Upland disliked their new rulers and did their best to keep out of their way. Because “those people in City Hall” were a major source of trouble. In order to justify their paychecks they spent their days inventing new rules and regulations for mere citizens to live by.

As far as the people were concerned, these were nonsensical rules enforced by nincompoops. As the saying goes, “Give a small man a little authority and he will become king!” And these rules cost the people far more than the City Hall salaries. For example, an old lady lost her home to fire. Her insurance guaranteed “100% rebuilding.” But City Hall refused to let her rebuild in such a way that the insurance company refused to rebuild it. And if the lady could get a loan, rental income would cover less than half the loan payments. Consequently the lady’s house will remain a vacant lot while she pays rent to live elsewhere.

Now we mere citizens mourn the death of our town as we knew it, while our hard-earned dollars go to pay the hired mercenaries. All we get in return are more and more hassles as City Hall intrudes further and further into our lives.

As the inhabitants of a small nation once observed, “We do not like to be ruled by outsiders. But, if we must have rulers, we thank God that they are the British!” Of course, our new rulers are not British. No one knows for sure just who they are. But we do know that we do not like them. Help! Help! Send us the British!