Mailbag: Government should not be run like a business

It was with some amusement that I recently read the letter to editor regarding the "doers" on the Costa Mesa City Council ("City Council now has some doers," March 26). M.H. Millard says, "Now we have some council members who are running the city like a business."

But let's really think about that concept. A government, be it on the municipal, county, state or national level, is not a business and should never, ever be expected to run like one. What it comes down to is profit versus people.

In our country, a government provides services for the common good. For example, the parks of Costa Mesa are properly maintained so they can be enjoyed by everyone. The police force and the Fire Department serve to help all residents of Costa Mesa in times of crisis. The city streets have to be paved adequately so that everyone can drive safely. None of these services requires the city government to make a "profit" in the sense associated with running a business.

The city has opportunities to increase revenue though. If the council maintained proper staffing levels for street-sweeping services and didn't antagonize the Police Department so it was adequately staffed as well (to follow the street sweeping crews to write tickets), street-sweeping ticket revenue could far exceed the measly sum that the privatize-it-all council members claim we'd save by outsourcing the service.

I'm a homeowner and resident of Costa Mesa. I'm not a shareholder. I'm sure that the three council members to whom Millard referred would like to think of the people of Costa Mesa as shareholders, in that shareholders have no power with regard to the day-to-day operations of a business — hence the push for a city charter, which further deteriorates the ability of voting residents to determine the city's future. What better example than when the mayor made the recent decision to reduce the number of residents able to speak at council meetings?

Now here is another obvious reason why conservatives should rethink their burning desire for government to run like a business. When an entity is in business, by definition, it wants to grow. Don't conservatives aim to downsize government?

Businesses exist to profit. I do not want my city government to be focused on profit. I want my city government to make money so that city services can be adequately provided, and city employee pension funds can be met. I willingly pay my taxes so that my city government will be able to provide services for the common good of my community.

The majority members of the council are not interested in the good of my community. Our way of life here in Costa Mesa is being destroyed, and the sooner those three are no longer on the council, the better.

Diana Gardiner

Costa Mesa

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