Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hey, Rocky! Watch the new mayor pull
a hybrid (and your $$$) out of his hat

Omaha's broke.

Property-tax revenue is flat. Sales taxes are in the crapper. The police and fire pension fund is a half billion in the hole. City government can't cut departmental budgets fast enough.

And you can't go to the library on Sunday anymore.

THIS SAD state of affairs calls for decisive action, and that's just what Mayor Jim Suttle gave us on his first day in office. He has taken the bull by the horns and decided to spend $62,868 to lease a $40,000 SUV.

Ah, but it's not just any SUV. The mayor is overspending for a "green" SUV -- a 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid. "Hybrid," of course, is tech-speak for "costs a crapload more money to get just six more miles per gallon."

Surely, though, hizzoner has valid reasons for spending $13,000 more to lease a too-big vehicle over four years than it would cost to just buy the thing. I am sure, when all is said and done, administration officials will outline the complex and nuanced decision making our civil-engineer mayor employed to reach a conclusion so brilliant that mere liberal-arts-major schmucks like me just can't comprehend it.

I NOW TURN to the Omaha World-Herald in search of elucidation and enlightenment:

In one of his first acts as incoming mayor, Suttle has leased a 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid SUV for an annual cost of $15,717.

That’s $2,157 per year more than what former Mayor Mike Fahey paid to lease a 2008 Chrysler Aspen SUV. The city typically provides a vehicle for the mayor to use on official business.

A spokesman for Suttle said the new mayor wants to tout energy efficiency.

“We’re trying to increase awareness of the use of other forms of technology and different ways of at looking at things,” said spokesman Ron Gerard.

He said the lease, through GMAC, cost more because the nation’s lending collapse last year made leases more dif­ficult to get. The city also is paying more to be able to get out of the lease quickly, if needed, Gerard said.


Suttle decided to lease be­cause that is how the city tradi­tionally has handled mayor’s ve­hicles, his office said.

When asked why Suttle didn’t choose a less-expensive vehicle — even a non-hybrid — Gerard said Suttle had campaigned on increasing the use of alternative energy and driving a hybrid fit that message.
BOYS AND GIRLS, I'm no engineer, but I know bulls*** from Bullwinkle. And that ain't Rocky the Flying Squirrel the mayor's flack just pulled out of his hat.

If Omahans can expect four more years of this kind of fertilizer flung from the executive suite of the City-County Building, perhaps it's time for the mother of all community-garden initiatives. Or if the mayor is really all that hepped-up about "alternative energy," maybe he needs to dust off his slide rule and figure out how to run the Metro Area Transit bus fleet on hot air.

Hot air and fertilizer are two things Omaha is sure to have plenty of so long as Jim Suttle is engineering policy at city hall. And all it cost is Suttle's $98,000 salary.

Well, that and Ron Gerard's mental health. Because when it comes to the new mayor's decision-making skills, it looks like Matthew Samp just might be as good as it gets.

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