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Paradise Has Been Lost in Irvine

January 16, 1994

* At the risk of asking whether the emperor is wearing any clothes, perhaps Irvine Mayor Michael Ward or City Manager Paul O. Brady Jr. would be kind enough to tell Irvine residents precisely how it will be possible to cut 50 full-time and 20 part-time staff positions, continue to "reduce the cost of doing business in Irvine," and yet still "provide the same level of service citizens have come to rely on" from city government.

Such a miracle must also be accomplished as the city continues to grow, increasing demands for municipal services.

Maybe the mayor and city manager have discovered a magic formula to squeeze the same amount of work out of city staff already decimated and demoralized by cutbacks and pay freezes over the last few years. If so, Irvine residents are entitled to know what it is. Maybe the city can patent and market it to make up the $4.5-million budget shortfall!

Moreover, why should anyone in Irvine expect city staff to work 25% harder to provide the "same level of services" and for basically the same pay?

There probably is no magic formula beyond the typical smoke and mirrors of budgetary planning and we probably can't (and have no right to) expect city staff, already understaffed, to take up the slack.

Consequently, it's time we all began discussing what municipal services Irvine may no longer be able to offer at all or locate the courage to raise revenue to pay for the services Irvine residents have come to expect.

Yes, Irvine residents were promised a paradise. But paradise has been lost.

The choice residents and city leaders face today is not complicated. Either the city finds a reasonable and fair way to continue providing services at the current level or Irvine residents begin to lower their expectations of what to expect from City Hall.

The choice is and should be ours.

MARK P. PETRACCA

Irvine

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