Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Land of Oz and the Emerald City

When I was growing up, one of my favorite movies was the Wizard of Oz. The first time I watched it was on a black and white television and I was scared out of my wits. The scarecrow; tin man; cowardly lion; Dorothy and Toto; Aunt Em and Uncle Henry; Wicked Witch of the West; the Wicked Witch of the North, Glenda; Munchkins; and The Wizard of Oz; are but a few of the characters in this fairy tale. Their journey to the Land of Oz and Emerald City turns into a quest to find a brain for the scarecrow, a heart for the tin man and courage for the lion and for Dorothy to get back to Kansas. Toto inadvertently outs the Wizard as a fraud and simply an ordinary man hiding behind a curtain, operating a giant console that makes him appear bigger than life.

I have watched this movie more times than I care to count or will ever admit to. I still enjoy the music and story and have found as I grow older, I often correlate the story line with life in what was once "America's Finest City." Can you place the scarecrow; maybe the tin man or the cowardly lion? When you think of the Wicked Witch of the West; what comes to mind? The Wizard of Oz; he is bigger than life and revered by the people until exposed as a phony; who could this be?

Many people believed the movie, written during the height of the U.S. Gold Standard monetary system, which in the end failed miserably and harmed everyone, depicted various players of that time in history. I liken the movie to the goings on in San Diego and the players who control the strings. Written in 1939, The Wizard of Oz is as relevant today as it was 70 years ago. The cast of Oz is interchangeable with the cast of so called leaders in San Diego. Pick the leader/politician and assign him/her a character from the movie and cringe at the reality of today.

Today seemed to bring more light related to the budget deficit we are facing next year. The mayor initially listed the deficit at $179 million and of late was attempting to persuade people that things were not as bad as first thought and with the growth of the Stock Market a smaller payment necessary to the Retirement System. I still have that land for sale. At the City Council today, it became apparent the mayor and staff are stone walling. Council member Frye got into an exchange with Nader Tirandazi, Financial Director for the mayor. During the exchange, Tirandazi let it slip revenue projections were off by $10 million which puts the deficit at closer to $190 million. The IBA put the deficit at $200 million some time ago and if history repeats, she will be closer to reality than the mayor.

So what does this all mean to us? In my estimation, anyone still saying things are not as bad as first thought are living in fantasy land (Emerald City) and doing a disservice to the people they impart this baloney. Things will not turn around until everyone acknowledges the depth of the problem we are staring down and begins to openly and honestly discuss them. Cheerleading from the sidelines and trying to get the crowd into the game will not put points on the board. A game plan, with a leader willing to risk, and players who know the play are what is required to move the ball and put points on the board. Cheering from the sidelines and telling the players on the bench things are getting better and not to worry is in no way productive nor helpful.

Someone needs to pull the curtain back and expose the wizard. Unlike Dorothy clicking her heals three times while saying "There's no place like home" to get back to Kansas, no amount of clicking heals while saying "Things are not as bad as thought" will not get us through this economic crisis. The words to "Over the Rainbow" are perfect for the dreamers in San Diego; "Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high. There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops. That's where you'll find me. Somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow, why then - oh, why can't I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why can't I?

The Wizard of Oz is alive and well in Emerald City, or is it San Diego?


Just one Munchkin said...

Classic!!! Not sure how you do it Steve but right on point yet again.

We are Emerald City and the Wizard is a phony!!!

Oh how I wish I could wish upon a rainbow and make it all better. But just like Dorothy I woke up and had to go to work in the Land of OZ.

Just Wondering said...

Wait a second....what if Jerry Sanders is Dorothy....I know...but think about it... Like Dorothy, Jerry slipped from the career heights as Chief of Police into the pigpen of local businesses. There he fed from the trough of corruption.

That's where our nightmare with his administration began. Remember, the Wizard of Oz is based upon a dream, this case a nightmare. While it may not of his making, there are too many winged monkeys in the City's past to mention here. There no doubt his promises of no new taxes have made it exponentially worse than it needed to be.

Jerry has met so many characters, Mike Aguirre, the Scarecrow without a brain, Ronnie Froman, the Good Witch who realized the fraud and decided not to soil her good name further. Scott Peters, the Cowardly Lion, who never missed an opportunity to spend everyone else's money and then hide in his office and so on and so on.

Unfortunately, there is one major difference between the Wizard of Oz and San Diego... In Oz, Dorothy gets to wake from her nightmare and everything is good with Auntee Em and Uncle Henry. In one way this is same for Jerry. He'll wake from his nightmare soon and walk away without any responsibility for the mess left behind. But for the rest of us in, whether you're a taxpayer or an employee, will still face million of dollars in deficit this year as well as hundreds of millions more over the next few years. Our nightmare, thanks to politician and the gross mismanagement of this Emerald City by Sea, a.k.a. Enron by the Sea, goes on and on for the foreseeable future.

Following the Yellow Brick Road said...

I can't stop laughing Steve. The thoughts this conjures up is so vast and varied... So many "Mr Wizards" and so many Scarecrows, tin men and cowardly lions...

I love it. You have such a nack for painting a picture and telling it like it is.

Headed to Gotham City said...

Sad but true. The bloke behind the curtain is a phony and could be many in this city. The mayor, police chief, any of the city council, city attorney...

Great job Steve I enjoy reading.

Fed Up Cop said...

Lansdowne is the wizard of oz. Long is a wizard in training. Sanders is the scarecrow surrounded by the flying monkeys and munchkins. The Emerald City is in shambles and the wizard exposed and there is no help in sight.



Anonymous said...

Today in the VOSD 11/18:

The size of San Diego's deficit -- and the size of public safety budgets -- makes significant cuts to police, rescue and fire services almost inevitable. Mayor Jerry Sanders requested proposals to trim $73 million from the Police Department and $34.7 million from the Fire-Rescue Department. About 81 percent of each department's budget is personnel expenses, which means the proposed cuts would affect employees -- in the form of layoffs, reduced wages, reduced benefits or other options.

How can Lansdowne and any of the other Chief tell us at ROT there are not going to further cuts? The PD has to cut $73M from its meager budget and 81% of the budget is personnel costs.

This leads to only one, no two, maybe three questions...What's Lansdowne smoking? Where can I get some? I'll leave the last obvious question to you.

DROP Participant said...

We're off to see the Wizard; the wonderful Wizard of OZ.... Pull the curtain back and who is pulling the strings today? Could be Sanders, could be Lansdowne; what day is it? They are both phony little men who have nothing to offer. Sanders is a liar and Lansdowne is a complete and total joke. The guy would be committed to a psych unit. Does he think we are all that stupid? This place has become an all out joke. It is only going to get worse. I have less than 5 years left and yes I am in the DROP. It is now all about the $$$ for me and my family. Smile I will and mind my P's and Q's... I will do the minimum less 10% of what they took.

Perfect analogy Steve.