The economy is imploding before our eyes. Long-term neighbors have lost their homes and have moved away in the middle of the night. College students have given up on getting the classes they need to graduate. They’ve traded their career paths for the commuter lanes, taking them from their morning jobs to their night jobs, which combined won’t cover the rent.
It’s difficult to justify top City of Milpitas salaries and compensation exceeding $200,000 per year in any economy. With everyone else suffering the effects of this undeclared depression, it’s hugely insulting to the taxpayers to maintain such false standards. The City Council likes to see top Milpitas staff positions as career destinations rather than as employment stepping stones. The effort to draw the most qualified employees would be a wise plan, if not for the over-reaching budgetary demands on taxpayers. It was difficult to justify the expense of Milpitas City Hall, seemingly designed as much to show the status of Milpitas in competition with San Jose as it was to serve the needs of the community. We still remember the City’s attempts to restrict public access to the very building which we as tax payers were obligated to fund. The City of Milpitas has worked hard to build itself into a bright star at the South end of the Bay despite its more humble beginnings. It’s a City overcoming an inferiority complex, striving to not only fit in, but to excel in its participation in growth, development and progressive group think regionalism.
Most disturbing in this momentum toward group think is this City’s willingness to post surveillance cameras on every corner, blending us seamlessly into the surveillance society. Smart Meter technology which will in its next iteration, supply agencies with detailed information about our daily habits was adopted in Milpitas without a question about its safety, efficiency or privacy violations, even in light of concerns that were raised in other communities. The cost of such surveillance technologies goes far beyond the monetary obligation. What we have forfeited in personal privacy rights is incalculable.
The City of Milpitas also funds building inspectors to drive by our homes looking for potential building code infractions and then allows inspectors to trespass on our property in pursuit of violations. One of the few benefits of City cut backs has been to pare back on this invasive practice. On a related matter, it’s frustrating to see our City Council’s compliance with ICELI, which influences all policy under a false sustainability model and serves to implement controls over all land use. ICELI oversees the implementation by counties and cities of the protocols for environmental land control set by Agenda 21 at the first Rio Conference. It serves to achieve bureaucratically what cannot be achieved by the consent of the voters.
We live in a highly chaotic time. We have been keeping our heads down and hoping that others will take the responsibility for finding the fix to our economy, to our political differences and to restore our lost rights. But hope is an empty place holder. It has to be filled with personal responsibility and positive action. Our City won’t get out of financial trouble by co-opting the responsibility for employee pensions or by replacing local police officers with regionalized law enforcement and neighborhood surveillance systems. Where can an outsourced law enforcement agency come from when the County’s resources are tapped out? Will we have to employ the National Guard? Will drones peer into our yards or follow our children to school? Will we follow the lead of other cities who have accepted corporate donations to support law enforcement and then have corporations expect preferential treatment in return? Or will the law be changed to allow cities like Milpitas to contract with private policing firms such as Blackwater Xe?
In the post-9/11 fervor for fighting terrorism in America, our law makers passed horrible restrictions on our freedoms and civil liberties, gutting the very protections guaranteed by our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. Police officers everywhere are expected to enforce laws that are in clear violation of the Constitution. To speak of the Constitution now is to risk having one’s name placed on a list of suspected radicals. Police officers who affirm to uphold their oath to follow the Constitution, to protect and serve the public are too often ostracized. Officers who follow post 9/11 protocols of violence and violation of civil rights have contributed to the general sense of intimidation so inherit in our culture today. Into this mix we have to deal with a series of Executive Orders which have further eroded our freedoms and served to militarize police departments, blurring the lines between war trained soldiers and the officers sworn to protect and serve. This has further added to the tensions between citizens and police.
Still, I would argue that we are better served not to go the way of outsourcing our Police Department or other City Services. Milpitas Police Department Officers are members of our community. They benefit as much as we do from living in a community where individuals’ freedoms are still guaranteed. We are only a community when each of us is also an individual whose voice is heard and whose vote counts. We lose that voice if we regionalize. Our voices are not heard when we outsource.
We do need to rethink the compensations structure of our City employees. Zero interest home loans, participation in local credit unions, developing a community currency and supporting not restricting hands on investment in our neighborhoods will do more to help our City employees and restore our stability than regionalization our outsourcing could ever do.
We do need to step back from budgets that include funding the surveillance society. We do not need high tech crowd control vehicles or weaponry. We do not need to promote the top-down regionalism of ICELI and Agenda 21.
Local police departments are designed to protect and serve individuals and communities, not at the pleasure of the Mayor or the City Council or the even by the Executive Orders of a seated President if those orders are in conflict with the rights of sovereign citizens. City Police Officers serve at the obligation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Private agencies, if it should come to that, will not.