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Opinion Piece by Don Morgan: It Starts with City Government

Published on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 | 12:36 pm

[Editor’s Note: Pasadena Now does not endorse any political candidates, but is open to all candidates, and residents, as a platform for them to express their opinions and concerns without censorship or editing.]

I’ve had the opportunity throughout this campaign to talk to residents about their top priorities for Pasadena. At forums, meet-and-greets, telephone townhalls and door-to-door, people have told me they are concerned about overdevelopment, public safety and affordable housing. They have shared with me their ideas to strengthen schools, create jobs and improve transit options.

I agree that these are all important issues for our city and I’m excited for the opportunity to bring the best ideas to Pasadena to help us move forward in each of these areas.

But we have to remember that it all starts with a city government that is forward-thinking, innovative, transparent and, most of all, accountable with our tax dollars.

Just two months ago, we learned that former city employees allegedly stole more than $6.4 million in taxpayer money. According to reports, they were able to use low-tech methods – like a simple bottle of Wite-Out – to funnel money out of city accounts and into their own personal accounts. And this went on for years.

It’s appalling. Pasadena is home to some of the top centers for innovation in the country. CalTech and the Jet Propulsion Lab are doing cutting edge work in science and engineering. Yet in City Hall, millions were allegedly stolen using technology that we’re more likely to see in an episode of “Mad Men” than in a modern office.

I’ve laid out several proposals for how we can stop this from happening again, including incorporating citizens’ oversight, a return to an internal full-time auditing system in City Hall and implementing “performance-based” budgeting to make sure funds are being spent wisely and effectively.

But we also need to change the way government works in Pasadena to bring systems up-to-speed, promote transparency and encourage a “customer service” culture that recognizes our city works best when city government works with residents to get things done.

I’ve spent 20 years helping local governments work better. It’s what I do for a living. And I’m committed to bringing the best practices to Pasadena.

One of the best of the best practices is more citizen engagement. I’m hosting a working lunch to share ideas on what we can do to make our great city even better. It’s this Saturday, March 7 at 12pm at Mijares at 145 Palmetto Drive. You can RSVP online and get more information on my website.

I hope to see you there but if you can’t make it, please email me at I want to hear from you because together, we can do great things.

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