I am for all things public. After all that is what we hold in common. Public libraries, parks, performances, festivals, schools, roads, piers, boat ramps, beaches, lakes and so on are a godsend for corporations. If the quality of life in a city is high employees will need less from them. So when public projects are being done why do we feel free to short change them? It, within reason, should be only the best will do for us. Yet some proclaim we do not need palaces. But I ask you what would New York look like if they had proclaim that Central Park is too big we only need a hundred acres after all we are not made of gold. NYC would not quite be the same.
The concept of austerity needs to end. Public projects are not about austerity but creating the best we can do. It is our best foot forward to ourselves and the outside world. We take pride in ourselves. Austerity is preached even when the economy is healthy. Yes there have been projects mismanaged that have gone way over budget but poor oversight is different from proclaiming austerity. Instead of the austerity approach of how can we cut the project or even worse do we need the project, we need to have a ‘get her done attitude’. I honestly believe if this approach was taken it would cut cost. Almost every project costs significantly more because we debated years over if the project can be done, had endless studies about the project because some want to stall or prevent the project and researching how we can cut cost that, by the time we get around doing the project, inflation has increased the cost. Not only that, you have three or four years you could have had a prize program that has been lost forever.
I am convinced public projects done well add so much to the quality of life. This is why I want to hear our public officials say the plan looks good and even though it is more than originally planned we will make it happen. We all know that flexibility of dreams and plans are what make for success.
The private sector should always be in partnership with its city. They should have city liaisons whose job is to be aware of what the city projects coming up they could assist. It is wrong thinking for corporations and wealthy individuals to think only what the city can do to help them. I know that boards are often filled with corporate executives and such but that is not the same thing. JFK had it right ‘ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.’
The great public spaces and programs that exist today were not because someone said let us do this on the cheap. They were made possible because of grand visions and open pocketbooks. After all Public is about how we treat each other. I wish you the best and I hope you wish me the best.