The evening of March 9, while some City Council candidates were at the regularly scheduled Monday night meeting in the Council Chambers, others were attending another meeting at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
The Save Our Springfield Citizens Coalition (SOS) held the meeting to explain their alternative solution to funding the police and firefighters pension plan.
SOS also passed out a "Rescue the Vision Initiative," which established the rest of their platform.
The initiative is made up of a series of pledges SOS would like Springfield's City Council candidates to sign.
Though all the Council candidates were invited to attend, the only candidates who attended the meeting were Mayor candidate Christopher Donegan; General Seat A candidate, Tom Martz; General Seat B candidate, Fred Ellison; and Zone 1 candidate Nicholas Ibarra.
This morning, SOS Spokesman Darin Chappell appeared on the Vincent David Jericho Program. Chappell confirmed the four candidates who were in attendance at last night's meeting had signed the pledges.
Following is the Initiative as presented by SOS:
Rescue the Vision Initiative
as presented by:
The Save Our Springfield Citizens Coalition
Pledge not to raise taxes unless absolutely necessary
As the fragile state of our nation's economy is of great concern to the citizens of Springfield, and the voters having rejected the notion that government's first reaction to a difficulty should be to 'raise more taxes,' both of which can be seen by the rejection of the 1% Pension Sales Tax by the voters of Springfield earlier this year, we believe that other alternatives must be sought by responsible government representation. The elected representatives of the citizens must always resist the temptation to increase taxes unless diligent inquiry determines that to be the only remaining option available; it should always be seen as the option of last resort. As a member of City Council, I pledge not to support any proposal that will require the citizens of Springfield to pay higher tax rates, unless all other options have been explored in an objective manner, public input has been duly considered, and diligent investigation has determined that there are no other viable alternatives.
Pledge to address the issues identified in the State Audits
Based upon the Audit of the City of Springfield and City Utilities by State Auditor Susan Montee, the citizens of Springfield have learned that there have been many shortcomings and a great degree of irresponsibility in the conduct of the daily affairs of the City and the control of the expenditures of citizens' tax dollars. From ambiguous contracts, to overpriced services, the City of Springfield and City Utilities have not implemented fiscally responsible management controls nor good accounting procedures to protect against wasteful expenditures and to assure efficient use of resources. Furthermore, City Management assurances that the issues raised by the audit have been addressed, without corroboration from our new internal auditor, is insufficient. As a member of City Council, I pledge to be familiar with the findings of the State Auditor and to strive to see that all of the recommendations in the report be implemented or acceptable alternatives be developed.
Pledge to oppose renewal of red-light camera contract
The use of red-light cameras for traffic enforcement has been the subject of considerable citizen controversy, and the failure of fines assessed to fully offset the associated expenses of their use indicates that the decision to utilize this methodology should be reconsidered. The $50,000 per year, per location cost associated with this program could be better used in the employment of additional police officers. As a member of City Council, I pledge to oppose the renewal of the contract to continue the use of red-light cameras.
Pledge of accountability for City assets
Recently, the topic of assets owned by the City of Springfield has been discussed. Because there is not a clear and precise listing that describes in detail, the assets the City owns, the purpose for which they are held, and the source of funds used for their acquisition, there has been much confusion regarding these assets, their values, their marketability, and the uses that can be made of the proceeds of any sale. In the interest of clarity and transparency, there should be a listing available for citizen review, and for City Council's use for the purpose of considering assets for liquidation when the need arises, or if they are no longer needed. As a City Council member, I pledge to support the compilation and publication of this information.
Pledge to open police officer and firefighter training academies as soon as possible
The fundamental responsibility of municipal government being to provide for the public safety of the citizens of our community, City management must provide leadership to assure that the core services of police and fire protection are fully staffed, funded and equipped in order to ensure that citizens' lives and properties are secure. Further delay in the opening of Police Officer and Firefighter training academies is unacceptable and contributes to the understaffing of these essential services. As a member of City Council, I pledge that the importance of opening both departments' academies will be communicated to the City Manager.
Pledge to review the City Charter to improve City Government
As a City in the year 2009, we must understand that the City Charter undoubtedly has some provisions that are outdated and/or fail to address changes that naturally occur over the course of time. As such, a periodic review of the City Charter is advisable and necessary to ensure that the City Charter is a transparent, adequate, and reasonable foundational document of local governmental structure for the protection and benefit of the citizens of Springfield. As a member of City Council, I pledge to support a systematic review of the City Charter with public input, and provide citizens the opportunity to vote on viable changes to the Springfield City Charter where inadequacies are identified.
Pledge to adhere to the charter's recommendation on employee qualifications
City Council has been justly criticized for not adhering to the City Charter's direction that applicants for, and those employed as, City Manager should have previous City Manager experience. When those who legislate choose to violate the very foundational document upon which their authority to govern lies, there can be no expectation of respect or acceptance from those citizens who elected them. As a member of City Council, I pledge to adhere to all of the provisions of the City Charter, thereby setting an example for the citizens of this community, and for all future members of City Council.