Shoulda elected me

The article about CityLink, "Is $6.6 million too much?" [News, May 13, 2004] presented very clearly some of the issues that Jim Moore and I have about this expensive city undertaking. But there were some quoted comments that deserve response.

Blake Caravati is quoted as saying "Those two are full of misinformation and innuendo," and that he wanted a public hearing to clear up some "patently untrue" accusations.

Everything that I claimed in City Council meetings was completely documented with page references to the City's own reports. There was no "misinformation" or "untrue" accusations. Similarly, Jim Moore offered specific contact information to verify his comparative cost information.

To his credit, however, Blake Caravati is also the only City Councilor who has offered to meet with me and consider my concerns in a leisurely fashion rather than the three-minute City Council sound bite format.

Councilor Kevin Lynch claims that a "new system is way overdue" and this is unquestionably true. But we should replace our aging computer system with a cost-effective one. He also notes that our "expertise would have been more helpful when we first started having public hearings and before it went out to bid." That may be true. But no public hearing was scheduled after the cost information became available in late fall from the Maximus report or the Council appropriation of $6.6 million in its February meeting.

Only then did Jim Moore see the "red flag" and request that the contract be delayed (as did I). It is noteworthy that this cost was never discussed in the public budget hearings because, as Assistant City Manager Linda Peacock explained, the monies are not coming from the General Fund, but rather represent an "internal transfer" from the Utilities Fund to the Information Technology Fund.

It is difficult for ordinary citizens to keep tabs on all the city's "internal transfers."

Kevin Lynch, Maurice Cox, and Meredith Richards all knew I was a computer scientist. Why didn't they involve me early on? Did they check whether this was a reasonable price? Had I been elected to city council four years ago, I would have been involved.

John L. Pfaltz, Research Professor
Charlottesville
jlp@virginia.edu

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