June 15, 2009

No Rain and No Parade

California is going to hell in a handbasket.
The economy still sucks.
Flipping multi-million dollar homes is getting tougher and tougher.
Water rationing starts in Poway on July 1st.

Need a little respite from bad news?
You're reading the wrong blog.
Poway plans to cancel the annual Poway Parade.

Yep. I found this nugget in tomorrow's budget update:

The Poway Chamber of Commerce and Community Services staffs have worked on a more cohesive approach to the month long Poway Days community celebration. The proposed changes would result in approximately $22,560 in budgetary savings. A concert funded by the summer concert series would occur Saturday September 12 in Community Park with a 90 minute family style evening community gathering. The event would replace Community Day at a net savings of $15,560 to the general fund. The Chamber would host a daytime western style community festival on Sunday, September 13 in lieu of the annual November Street Fair. This event has the potential to become a new signature event for Poway attracting regional interest and supporting the City s economic development objectives Similar to past Community Day events a community stage would showcase Poway recreation classes and there would be civic group booths and displays The parade would take a hiatus this year saving $7,000 in city staff overtirne expenses.

You didn't read it here first. Well, maybe you did. Bob Emery wrote about it in his June 3rd column in the Poway News Chieftain after getting a phone call from Betty Rexford telling him that "they" want to cut the Poway Days Parade.

..., the Poway Days Parade is the soul of Poway? It’s part of it. Sure, it really isn’t much of a parade compared to most, but it is Poway’s parade. What is next to go, Christmas in the Park? The kids fishing derby? Family campouts at Lake Poway? The summer concert series? The Train Song Festival? These, along with many, many other events, are the very soul of this community. They must be the very last items on the chopping block. Their relative costs are minimal and huge numbers of volunteer hours go into each one. They are what Poway is all about, kids families and community.

Me, I'm not a big fan of parades. I never watch the rose parade or the Macy's parade. I think it is really boring to watch a humongous balloon creep by. But when our kids were little, we took them to the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon and dutifully trooped down to Poway Rd every September to watch our local parade. I think they liked it. I liked watching them enjoy it.

For me, the worst part of the Poway parades were the old western shootout re-enactments. I don't like watching armed robberies, western style or Citibank style. One year, I was taken hostage and "jailed" by costumed cowboys during the parade for not wearing a special badge. It was all in good fun. But my 2-yr old daughter wasn't having any of it. She screamed hysterically until they let me out of the "jail". The shoot-out terrified her.

My favorite part of the parade was hearing and seeing the Poway band marching by. They were always the best. No bias here. (Disclaimer- my kids were not in the band.)

The Poway parade dates back to well before we came to live in Poway in 1976. After the city incorporated, they changed the name of our annual celebration to "Poway Days" or "PowWow Days". At one point, I think, they renamed the parade "the heritage parade". Whatever. This year would have been the 45th annual Poway parade. Instead, it will be the year of the hiatus.

I'm with Bob on this, the parade is part of the "soul" of the community. It is the community. Kids, politicians, service groups, high school marching bands, beauty queens, soccer teams, clowns and church members. Supposedly, the name "Poway" is derived from an indian word, "Paguay" which translates to "meeting of little valleys." The Poway parade, has always been the meeting, the gathering of the people who live in those valleys.

I don't know who the "they" is that Mrs. Rexford thinks is canceling the parade. After all, she is one of the 5 deciders who will decide if the parade gets cut or not. To save the parade, the council will have to find $7000 in savings somewhere else. Might I offer a few suggestions?

Is the city still paying the chamber's expense for a part-time secretary to mail out brocures for prospective people who want to move to Poway? Might I suggest that they just post whatever is in those brochures on the internet and save themselves a big chunk of money?

And how about the Shop Poway campaign? This is a program funded by the taxpayers to try to convince folks to shop in Poway. The city pays for banners and hangs them around town to remind us to shop locally. There is no evidence that the money the city pumps into the program brings a return for the investment. In fact, there is anecdotal evidence that it doesn't.

This year, the chamber and city had their joint meeting featuring a stand-in for the mayor giving the state of the city address titled, "Poway, Your First Choice" at none other than a non-Poway location. Yep, they had it at the Bernardo Heights Country Club. Because the country club came in with a lower bid. Well, hello-o-o-o, I am gonna shop where I get the best bang for my buck too. So can we just scrap this program and have our parade instead?

Another possible cut is the July 4th fireworks at Poway High School. Other nearby communities are having 4th of July celebrations we could go to, so why not cancel our July 4th event and have our fireworks in September with our parade instead?

I can think of a few other places to save some money too, but they will have to wait for another post.

Ad from the Poway News Chieftain advertising the State of the City Breakfast


NEWS_FLASH said...

Gee.... I can think of one way to save a big pot of $$$$ for the city -- and possibly revive the parade plans. Get the Poway City Council to reverse its recent foolhardy decision to blow $3.3million in REDEVLOPMENT AGENCY funds to purchase toxic & carcinogen-laden artificial turf for the playground/sports fields at Valley Elementary School & Meadowbrook Middle School.

The city is ‘crying the blues’ over their decrease in revenues. What did they think was eventually going to happen with their car dealership "cash cows"??? --- which have been going the way of the dinosaurs for years.

Actually, this whole parade “hiatus” thing does not pass the smell test. I suspect the city is trying to make a very big public point about their decrease in revenues. What better way to get the public's attention & sympathy than to place this beloved annual parade tradition on "hiatus" status??? Meanwhile, of course, the city is out spending money on crazy things like artificial turf. It’s hard to believe we really have a budget problem in this city when we can blow huge amounts like this so easily. No wonder the Poway public feels that it is receiving mixed messages.

The City of Poway does not necessarily have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem.

Chris Cruse said...

I think it was sometime back in the 90s that California law was changed so that redevelopment agencies had to "pass through" money directly to schools and other taxing districts UNLESS they had a prior agreement- those would be grandfathered in. Just before the new law became effective, the Poway Redevelopment Agency and PUSD made an agreement that PRA would fund the PPAC and sports fields at the schools. Otherwise PUSD would have had all those millions of dollars to chose what they wanted/needed to do without any control by PRA. For example, they could have spent those millions on their massive school remodeling projects instead of saddling the taxpayers with two bonds to pay off for the next 40 yrs.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha -- that ad for the State of the Community Breakfast is great. I guess the Hamburger Factory wasn't elegant enough for such a prestigious event.

I read about the proposed changes to the Poway Parade awhile back. It was my impression that the Poway Chamber of Commerce pulled its sponsorship and there is a lack of volunteers. I assumed the "they" Ms Rexford mentioned was the chamber of commerce.

Ohhh -- you have to have fireworks in Poway on the 4th of July. However, I prefer (ideally) that funds for the fireworks and these other events came from grassroots community efforts vs. city of Poway funds and the time of city employees. You might have read recently that a La Jolla community group recently raised the funds for the fireworks at the cove this year.

Are there any community organizers with fund raising experience out there?