Dave Sullivan is not being completely honest in his portrayal of our positions on a senior center in the city ("Candidates not being totally honest on senior center," Mailbag, Oct. 14). During a forum in September, we discussed this issue at length with him and others present. Instead of using our complete answers to all of his questions in his comments, he chose to focus on a brief answer Connie Boardman wrote when she was allowed only 50 words to respond to a three-part question about the senior center.
Connie didn't run for reelection in 2004, in part, because she was caring for her elderly mother, who had Alzheimer's. She currently is coordinating the care for her father. Connie understands the needs of our seniors and needs no lecture from Sullivan about the generation who served us in World War II. Her father is a World War II veteran who received both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. She understands and appreciates the sacrifices this generation of Americans made at home and overseas.
The city has cut $20 million from its budget over the last two years, and yet Sullivan attacks Joe Shaw because, during this budget crisis, Joe has pledged to protect vital senior services such as meals on wheels, the noon lunch program and the senior transportation program. It is naive to think that just because senior services have not yet been cut, they are safe from future cuts.
Sullivan cites a lack of funds to purchase land outside of Huntington Central Park for a new senior center, but he also fails in his fact check to note that the city does not have the money to build the senior center at all. The complicated deal he approved while on the council allowed for Makar Properties, the developer of the Pacific City project, to manage the senior center project without competitive bids. The project was halted mid-construction.
Frankly, all of this is a history lesson. Without the funds from the developer, there is no project. Instead of focusing on what could have been, we should focus on what could be. The question the next council will face is how we can provide effective senior services within the current budget realities. The focus should be on how funds could be raised using grants, fundraising and sponsorships. Team Huntington Beach has been and will continue fighting for seniors.
Editor's note: Boardman, Farley and Shaw are running for the City Council this fall under the banner of Team Huntington Beach.
Center not an all-or-nothing issue
This is in response to Dave Sullivan's letter on the senior center ("Candidates not being totally honest on senior center," Mailbag, Oct. 14).
Sullivan says that some council candidates have promised to vote on placing a new senior center in Huntington Central Park, and to use Quimby Act fees to pay for it. But didn't the council already vote on that? If the city wins its appeal, the city shouldn't need to vote on it again, because the judge will have validated the original vote.
But even if a candidate promises to abide by a judge's decision, should he/she be elected, and vote accordingly, that doesn't mean they have to like it or agree with the idea. Was the City Council happy about pleading guilty in 2001 to the sewer leak case and being put on probation? My guess is no.
Sullivan also claims that if the city does not use the Central Park site for a senior center, "there will be no new senior center. The city does not have the money to buy new land for the project."
And whose fault is that? Plenty of councils in the '70s, '80s and '90s — including the ones Sullivan himself served on — had the opportunity to plan and save for a new senior center and failed to do so.
It is unfortunate that many seniors seem to think it is a case of "Park Center or Bust." If the city loses its appeal, what, that's it? No new senior center, period? How sad.
There are many options for a new center other than having it eat up five acres of parkland. Fountain Valley built its senior center on an old school site. Yet the senior lobby says we can't do that in Huntington Beach. Why not? And why must land be purchased — ever hear of leasing?
What about buying or leasing an existing building? What about tearing down the existing Murdy Community Center and rebuilding it on land the city already owns? If the city loses its appeal, these options will need to be explored, rather than the all-or-nothing "Park Center or Bust."
One point everyone agrees on is that our seniors need better facilities. Pitting seniors against other residents does not accomplish that.
Attack on candidates was unfair
First, let me say that I am a big fan of Team Huntington Beach (Connie Boardman, Blair Farley, Joe Shaw). I have known each of the candidates for years, and they are bright, articulate, honest, well-qualified, civically involved and community-oriented. They do care deeply about senior citizen issues. I also approve of candidates who share their views and positions on issues, like Dan Kalmick and Heather Grow, who likewise would put the interests of our citizens over those of developers and outside special interests. Any of them would do a good job and would be miles better than the remaining council majority members on the dais.
However, there has been an attack on Team Huntington Beach members by Dave Sullivan that I find disingenuous and reprehensible ("Candidates not being totally honest on senior center," Mailbag, Oct. 14). I was at the candidate event referred to by Sullivan (in fact, I was one of the volunteers there). All of the Team Huntington Beach candidates said that they would follow the will of the people regarding the proposed senior center if elected, despite their personal preferences. They did point out the many "ifs" involved in making the senior center in Huntington Central Park a reality.
Also pointed out was the fact that even if the appeal of the judge's ruling was successful, the funding source for the project (Pacific City "in lieu" fees) was likely years away from being utilized. This refocused the argument on preserving senior services over the period of time that funding for a center was unavailable. Remember, we are talking about several budget years in the future. Lost on Sullivan and his Council on Aging cronies criticizing the candidates was the fact that these candidates were taking an utterly prudent course in dealing with the issue.
Yes, the current senior center is inadequate and should be improved over time until enhanced facilities are available and affordable. But it is pure demagoguery to use the plight of our seniors, especially our veterans, as a political club to beat these fine candidates over the head when so many circumstances remain up in the air. Sullivan is simply wrong in launching this vicious and unwarranted attack.
A deeper question on benefits
Regarding Joe Carchio and unauthorized benefits for his ex-wife ("Extra benefits exposed," Oct. 14), this leads to a much more fundamental question: Why in the world are the taxpayers in the city providing any insurance benefits for city council members? These are part-time jobs at best, and presumably every member has a full-time job already with benefits. I fear the answer is that the taxpayers are providing a better plan with a lower co-pay than the members' employers, so they cancel their existing plan to move to a taxpayer-subsidized plan. How many other benefits that we do not know about are we providing to these part-time council members and other elected officials? You would think that in this time where their constituents are facing economic challenges daily and when the city has deficit issues, every standing member and candidate would renounce receiving any benefits. That would be the least they could do to help.