08:42 PM PDT on Tuesday, August 3, 2010
By RON LOVERIDGE
Too many recent news accounts have focused on doubts about whether City Hall is transparent, and whether it is a place of special favors and privileges (“Official nonsense,” Our Views, July 11; “Riverside hit and miss in filling public records requests,” July 14; “Riverside top officials pay up for gun accessories, four years later,” July 16).
As mayor, I am committed to a City Hall that is open and transparent. City Hall must see all officials, elected and appointed, as public servants accountable not only to the laws and rules of the city, but also to the highest standards of public service.
I take pride in exceptional city projects and services across Riverside. Unlike most cities in California, we balanced our general fund budget while retaining a reserve of about $40 million. At the same time, we’ve continued to fund key initiatives in building parks, enhancing green goals, focusing on being a smart city, and fostering our commitment to being the City of Arts & Innovation.
Riverside is a safe city, and will be safer with the leadership of our new police chief, Sergio Diaz. We have developed many national best practices that have been recognized and honored in the state and in the nation, such as for our 311 “One Call Does It All” and our “Neighborhood Livability Program.” Drawing on a 30-year perspective at City Hall, I believe our current department heads and basic services are the best ever. Residents and visitors alike emphasize, the city has never looked better! In brief, City Hall has many great stories to tell.
But mistakes have been made. And they are being corrected — lessons learned. Rather than trying to “hunker down,” we must strive to do better. Speaking for the City Council, I commit the city to a timely response to public record requests. We now have a procedure that will log in and monitor all such requests. Special prerogatives for top officials — mayor, council, city manager or police chief — must not be the way we do business.
In 2010, let’s make the promise of Riverside’s economic strategic plan “Seizing Our Destiny” a reality. Success depends on our working together. This plan charts an extraordinary process for defining and shaping our future as a great city in which to live, learn, work, raise a family, play and visit. Let’s do it.
And it is my pledge that as we seize our destiny, City Hall will be open and transparent for all of us.
Ron Loveridge is the mayor of Riverside.