City of South Lake Tahoe Candidate Profile: Bill Crawford
Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a nine-part series profiling candidates for City Council. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Years Resident: 31
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social science from California State University, Long Beach
Profession: Retired teacher
Platform: No. 1, to reduce the city’s debt by placing a moratorium on borrowing. No. 2, market the airport as a first-class general aviation airport. No. 3, divert the LTVA promotional funds to promote general aviation and to improve Bijou Park. No. 4, provide greater oversight of the city manager’s office because it is mismanaged.
Question 1: In light of the numerous times the Park Avenue Project has been postponed, should the city spend money for this project before there is a finalized Disposition and Development Agreement with the developer?
Answer: No, because it is another gamble with public money. The American Skiing Company has leveraged itself out of the credit market. It is deep in debt and its stock is down to 6 9/16 (tp will fix in quark) from a high of over 18. Also, it is committed to developing the Canyons (Ski Resort) in Utah for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Contrary to what is said, the American Skiing Company has not invested in redevelopment projects at this time. The company has purchased development rights which the company can dispose of when it wishes or take a tax loss on the development rights. Pumping public dollars into Park Avenue without first having a contract with the developer is drawing to an inside straight.
Question 2a: Should the citizens of South Lake Tahoe use their tax money to pay for grant matches which are supposed to come from the pockets of those who use commercial service at the airport?
Answer: In general, I do not support the use of grant money or matching funds to start programs or to hire employees. In a year or two, the grant runs out, the matching funds go away, and then the local people are stuck with a cruel choice: taking general fund dollars to keep the program going, or dropping the program. In this case, let’s hope that local dollars are limited to $30,000, that the deal will not force us into a set of circumstances that we did not bargain on. I support general aviation for our airport.
Question 2b: With the success of the Reno/Tahoe International Airport, is there a point where the city must abandon the hope of finding a commercial suitor? If so, has that point been reached?
Answer: Yes, the point has been reached, we need to promote the airport as a first-class general aviation airport. I would divert promotional tax dollars from the (South Lake Tahoe) Chamber of Commerce and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority to promote the airport. In fact the consultant (Vesta Rea & Associates) from Texas advised the city to promote the airport as I now suggest.
Question 3: Although eminent domain is a legal process, should the city take property from residents for the good of the public (as it claimed to do in the Tahoe Meadows situation), or should the rights of those who fairly bought their properties take precedent?
Answer: Has the city acted in the public interest, or has the city simply served a client, the developers at Ski Run? Does the state’s interest outweigh the individual’s interest to be secure in his or her property? Our Redevelopment Agency assistant director Jaye Von Klug is on record as saying that without the power of eminent domain, the agency would be dead. For me, that speaks volumes about how the agency must behave to get its way. If the property owners agreed to the deal, I can’t quarrel with that. However, the city is on record, this time the city manager was speaking, saying it might use eminent domain to acquire the City Council chambers. In my vote that would be an abuse – the reckless exercise of state power to take an individual’s property.
Question 4a: Even though many city residents supported the cut, because South Lake Tahoe is a tourist destination, should more money be put into the Parks and Recreation Department?
Answer: Up to a point, Destination 2000 is a hoax. For almost a year now, the city has not had the services of a fire chief. But recently the City Council approved $490,000 for Park Avenue, over $40,000 to go to creating a new employee position in the Redevelopment Agency. I think that indicates what the city’s real priorities are. It’s a joke to give away a million dollars in subsidies to various groups and cut the Parks and Recreation Department $100,000. What I would do – I would use part of the diverted promotional funds from the LTVA to complete Bijou Park. We need to invest in the city to make it a better place to live. In time we could use diverted promotional funds to finish the ice rink and beautify the Highway 50 and Highway 89 corridors.
Question 4b: Should there be only one department head for both police and fire?
Answer: If it works, but I don’t know that it works. We should do what is in the best interest of the community’s public safety. I suggest that we poll the police and firefighters. Get an opinion from those in the trenches. Start there to get information that might help. We don’t have a fire chief, but we have a new employee in the Redevelopment Agency for over $40,000. If we can afford that, most likely we can afford a fire chief.
Question 5: What should the council’s role, if any, be in the fight against MTBE?
Answer: Without doubt, MTBE has to go. The state of California has lifted the use of MTBE for our winter months. The city and county should fight for an extension of the state’s program for a minimum of at least 18 months so that our local public utility district can get a handle on the situation as far as our wells go and perhaps the drilling of new ones. Also, the 18 months would give the state time to find a suitable, safe alternative to MTBE.
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