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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Point of View

Uploaded: Jul 24, 2011
A point of view refers to where you are standing to look at something and how much you can see from that position. If I was behind the scenes at a Broadway production, I would see the stagehands moving sets, the lighting director controlling spot lights and special effects, the actors running on and off stage to receive props and costume changes from helpers in the wings.

The theater-goer on the other hands sits out front and sees only the illusions presented on the stage. Those in the audience receive a good show but probably don't think of all of the activities behind the scenes that make it happen.

That's how our City Government works. Most residents don't see all of the activities going on behind the scenes. They just go on living and using the resources provided and as long as nothing wrong happens, like Spiderman falling from his webbing or a stagehand being caught on stage when the curtain opens, the illusions are preserved.

But if during the intermission someone with an ax to grind against the show or the theater management starts telling the audience that the stagehands are overpaid and the Stage Manager, Costume Designer, and Lighting Director are each getting 20% of your ticket price, that seems like a lot to pay for people you can't see and don't know what they do.

Another show down the street in the same size theater charges half as much for tickets. Of course you don't want to see that show because it's not very good, but you shouldn't have to pay more for tickets to a better show just because they pay stagehands and managers so much.

You were invited backstage at the theater to see what goes on, but you didn't want to destroy your illusions or get to know any of those overpaid stagehands or managers because then you might be too close to them and think it is OK to take so much of your ticket price. So you would rather keep your limited point of view from out front than to find out anything about who is doing what behind the scenes.

OK this is a rather simplistic view, and I know I shall be criticized for being condescending, but I'm an educator and we often use simple analogies to present more complicated subjects when learners need help.

Many residents in our city need help understanding what staff does. They are being misled by political interests into believing the Wizard behind the curtain isn't worth respect because he's doing his magic with an electronic board and projection equipment and not real wizardry. Yet it takes a lot of talent, education, and skill to design and operate the control panel. It takes a lot of behind the scenes effort by highly skilled people to keep everything running smoothly without anyone noticing the work that goes into it.

I've recommended the Government 101 class in my blog and messages several times, but residents who prefer to remain ignorant or not get too close to people doing the work, or fearful that they will be "brainwashed," when they already have been, don't want to go. They don't want to learn anything that might change their point of view. So they will continue to see the illusions and not the realities.

I shall continue to report what is happening behind the scenes, and I shall continue to be criticized as "an insider," because you cannot know what it takes to run the show without changing your point of view.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 25, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Very well put, Roz.

MLO


 +  Like this comment
Posted by H. Sachs, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 26, 2011 at 9:50 am

Roz- you make an excellent point. The gov't 101 class is quite beneficial. Most of those "stagehands" who serve the City of San Ramon in so many different capacities are in fact residents of San Ramon. They eat their own cooking. They care deeply about their work. The recent Capital improvement projects that the Council approved allowed for over $13 million in 2011-12 capital projects, street improvements, park improvements, etc. Not one dollar of those expenditures came from general fund revenue, staff identified grant, one time use and special use funds for these projects. That is quite an accomplishment for any city and city staff deserve a tip of the hat for their work; instead of a kick in the face from folks who need a political pinata to make themselves relevant.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bob, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

If a Broadway production does not collect enough in ticket sales to cover what it pays its stagehands, it folds. The same cannot be true of city governments, they cannot shut down due to fiscal mismanagement. Instead they go into an operating deficit (as San Ramon has done), and/or they under-report key liabilities (also being done by this city). Unfortunately this civic production is slowly turning into an unwanted tragedy for the audience. But of course the "worth every penny" stagehands will still be paid regardless.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by H. Sachs, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Bob- every year San Ramon undergoes independent auditing of its finances. The annual reports come out in Decemberand are available from the City Clerk. San Ramon's debt structure is also analyzed by Standard and Poor's.



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