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Ed Miller keeps a keen eye on local spending

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Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:02 am, Wed Dec 28, 2011.

Ed Miller, who is a member of Citizens in Action, the local Tea Party organization, has been keeping a watchful eye on the city of Lodi's strained budget.

While the Tea Party has drawn considerable attention for its national politics and activism, Miller has made a difference at the local level.

Miller attends almost every Lodi City Council meeting — both Wednesday night and Tuesday shirtsleeve meetings. He is constantly questioning expenditures and suggesting ways to save money.

"He does his homework. He's level-headed and he raises good questions," said Councilman Bob Johnson, who served as mayor in 2011.

Miller moved to Lodi about 4 1/2 years ago with his wife, Linda, who was born in Lodi. He spent 40 years in the San Jose area as a manufacturing engineer and project manager for a high-tech business that made semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

He joined Citizens in Action because he was frustrated with the money the federal and state government were spending.

"Nothing seemed to work with either party, and the Tea Party seemed to be the way to go. When I checked it out, I found that the people were the same as me. They don't really want to do this, but they feel like they have to," Miller said.

When he lived in Milpitas, he occasionally went to a council meeting but was not a regular. In Lodi, he decided to become the council representative for Citizens in Action, and it has turned into a passion, he said.

"I started because it would give me a chance to find out more about Lodi, because I haven't been here that long. It turned out to be something that interested me, so it just sort of stuck," he said.

Johnson credits Miller with quietly advocating on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers. He recalled one dollars-and-sense discussion in which staff members starting speaking in "bureaucratese."

"Mr. Miller respectfully reminded them that they were speaking in a language only the staff and those close to the staff really understood," Johnson said. "He is always respectful, but he is not afraid to ask questions and raise issues."

Miller led the push for the Lodi City Council to consider a public-private partnership for the water treatment plant. He researched other cities that have privatized the operation of water plants but still owned the plant. Through a series of emails, he convinced the council to take a look at outsourcing the employees at the plant.

Miller was inspired to push the council to consider another alternative because one of the guiding principals of the Tea Party is a fiscally responsible government, he said.

"The year had started with a big upset about the cost of pensions and benefits and how they would have to get concessions from bargaining groups, and then they turned around and said we want to spend $1 million to hire employees under the same arrangements," Miller said.

The council ultimately decided to hire more city employees to run the plant after a confusing bid process with two private companies.

Miller's next push is to ask the council to draft standard policies for the next time the city considers outsourcing services.

That's a goal Johnson also sees as worthwhile. For the water treatment staffing, the city was, in effect, both a bidder and the arbiter of bids.

"That was frustrating to both of us," Johnson said. "But when the dice don't fall your way, you have to move on to the next roll."

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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4 comments:

  • Kim Parigoris posted at 7:13 am on Fri, Dec 30, 2011.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 469

    I am proud to be associated with Ed Miller. If you would like to join his "cause" or get involved in any other facet of our state or local government, please go to www.lodicitizensinaction.com. There, you can sign up for our email newsletters (kept to a minimum- we do not just forward the same emails everyone else gets every day) and you can find out how to contact Ed yourself on our "Resources/ Contact Us" page. You can also visit our "Property Rights/Personal Freedoms" page to get information about those subjects. We invite anyone from any political party, that wants to promote 1) Fiscal Responsibility 2) Limited Government 3) Support of the Free markets. Ed can't do it alone!!
    """Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories. ""
    Thomas Jefferson

     
  • Ralph Lee posted at 5:00 am on Thu, Dec 29, 2011.

    Ralph Lee Posts: 1

    The shirt is the best. Keep up the watchdog on the city.

     
  • roy bitz posted at 11:08 am on Wed, Dec 28, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Ed,

    We appreciate your effort to convince the council to award the surface water treatment plant jobs to private enterprise. Too bad they chose to do it their way instead.
    You may know, we were told this plant is needed because our ground water is overdrafted by some 200,000 acre feet annually. You may also know this plant will process about 6,000 acre feet of river water annually---just 3% of the overdraft.
    I call this plant Lodi's bridge to nowhere because:
    * It will have virtually no effect on the ground water over draft problem.
    * It is extremely expensive and though we may never know all the costs of all the projects associated with it ------- debt service on the loan, the Mills Avenue dig, planning and legal costs, the raw hook up to WID, clearing the construction site and building the plant and cost of the water, plant operations and so on, I believe when all is said and done, this is a two hundred million dollar "bridge to nowhere".

     
  • Donald Parsons posted at 9:17 am on Wed, Dec 28, 2011.

    Molly Posts: 1

    We need folks like Mr. Miller keeping an eye on spending. Let's face it, our state is broke, largely because the Legislature operates outside the view of ordinary citizens. Government caters to the "squeeky wheels" - whether it's labor unions, big business or other special interests. Ed's got his eye on our local government and i for one, am grateful.

     

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