Thursday, October 8 , 2015, 4:10 pm | Fair 83º

David Pratt: Measure M for Maintenance

By David Pratt |

Maintenance should be routine. Brushing your teeth is a form of maintenance. What would happen if you only did it once every few years?

Where would you rather live? In a neighborhood where streetlights are on the fritz, trash is strewn about and yards are overgrown? Or in a neighborhood where yards are mowed, trash is collected and streets are well-lit. In other words, would you rather live in a neighborhood where maintenance occurs or in one where it does not?

Maintenance is a good thing. It is good for our neighborhoods, and it is good for our county.

Some have described “maintenance” as an identifying difference between countries in the First World and those in the Third World. Santa Barbara County is the crème de la crème of the First World. But that status has to be maintained.

Who thinks maintenance is unimportant? Who wants to argue against maintenance of public buildings, parks and roads? And who can deny maintenance of our public assets has been lacking in recent years?

Due to our indisputable failure to conduct adequate routine maintenance, the Public Facilities Maintenance Ordinance, known as Measure M, was created. Measure M will not solve all our maintenance problems, but it’s a start.

Measure M is not perfect. It is not other things either. It is not a tax. And it is not an unfunded mandate, as some have claimed.

Do we pay taxes? Yes, we do! Are the taxes we pay supposed to maintain the assets we own collectively? Yes, they are!

Of course, our taxes are also meant to ensure public safety. Taxes fund our Sheriff’s Department for that reason. For the same reason, a North County Jail will be built. And our taxes fund our District Attorney’s Office so we are able to prove beyond reasonable doubt who should be in jail.

Some — including our sheriff and our district attorney — have expressed fear that our Board of Supervisors will divert money from public safety, our county judicial system or the North County jail if Measure M passes. Each and every one of our supervisors is more responsible than that.

But it is no wonder the sheriff and DA are worried since they have heard supervisors — the people who approve their budgets — express their own fear about simultaneously funding public safety and Measure M. There is nothing wrong with fear. But to face fear defines courage.

John F. Kennedy understood courage; he wrote a book titled Profiles in Courage. President Kennedy also committed our nation to something many thought impossible at the time: landing a man on the moon. President Kennedy said, “[W]e choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” President Kennedy did not think we should shy away because something is hard. And our fear should not cause us to shirk doing what is necessary.

To those who wonder if we can maintain our public assets while simultaneously ensuring public safety: Yes, we can! In fact, we must.

We must also continue to provide the important services that constitute a safety net for our most vulnerable neighbors. Can we? Yes, we can!

We live in the most wonderful county of the most remarkable state within the greatest nation the world has ever known. There is nothing we cannot do.

Let’s do the hard thing. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s take better care of our public buildings, parks and roads. Let’s make it routine, like brushing your teeth. We can. Yes, we can!

For more information about Measure M, click here.

— David Pratt is president of Santa Maria Energy and can be reached at [email protected].

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