Patch: Why are you running for Pleasant Hill City Council?
I am running for City Council to help improve how City Hall operates and make fiscal responsibility, open government, and quality neighborhoods our top priorities. I have plans for each of these areas to identify solutions and hold City leadership accountable. I released these plans on October 4th, the morning after the Candidate Forum at City Hall. To obtain a copy of these plans, please contact me at Mike_Flake@yahoo.com.
Patch: What are the top three issues you see facing the city, and how would you address them?
Fiscal Responsibility – We’ve got to control deficit spending, excessive salaries, and pension liabilities. The City leaders gave out over $280,000 in severance pay to our former City Attorney, yet the Contra Costa Times says she resigned. I don’t recall severance being something you give to someone who resigns. This payment alone could have offset a significant portion of the deficit spending of last fiscal year. Not only do we need to control spending, we’ve got to bring in business to fill empty store fronts and vacant buildings. One of my proposals is to waive the business license fee for the first year of any new business that takes on an empty space.
Open Government - Over the past several years, residents have challenged the City to improve transparency. You might recall issues such as Crestwood, St. Theresa, Measure T, and most recently “Emergency Shelters”. Council has acknowledged that improvement is needed, yet we are still waiting. I will work to provide greater access to information and feedback opportunities. I’ll make sure public notices and signage are clear on topics, so that casual readers are not misled. A simple improvement is to replace the City’s streaming video of Council meetings with the ability to download a file that allows you to watch the video on the go without having to maintain a constant connection to the internet.
Quality Neighborhoods - We want to improve and enhance our neighborhoods, and ensure the safety and welfare of residents and businesses alike. However, the City consistently allocates more resources to administration. I will reprioritize the budget in favor of residents and businesses. Many of our capital improvement projects are too costly, such as the needed flood control basin at the southern part of the City. However, we should put investment into planning and making incremental improvements where possible. If we have a plan and show progress, perhaps we’ll be better able to compete for federal funds when we have projects that are beyond the concept phase and maybe even “shovel ready.” Finally, I will stand against “Stack-n-Pack” housing. Interests outside the City are demanding that we place more attention towards high-density housing. This is contrary to what makes Pleasant Hill an attractive place to live. Someday in the future, Mangini Farm might undergo development. We need to make sure that the proposed development is consistent with the quality and character of adjacent neighborhoods.
Patch: What are the three best things about living in Pleasant Hill?
Quality neighborhoods – Let’s keep them this way.
The location – easy access to work and play (i.e. open spaces, San Francisco, Wine Country, water skiing, and snow skiiing.).
Safety - I don’t worry about my father in-law while he walks the trails and sidewalks of Pleasant Hill. We’ve got exceptional response times from our Police Department.
Patch: What are the three worst things?
The Crossroads Development – It could have been so much better had we selected a developer of choice during the redevelopment competition. Instead, we have two developers at odds.
Empty space at DVC Plaza (i.e. K-Mart and former Safeway space).
The solar panel “eye sore” at Contra Costa Blvd. and Taylor (formerly Blondie’s). Some of the panels don’t seem to be oriented correctly toward the sun for maximizing the energy production.
Patch: If you win a seat, how will you keep in touch with your constituents for the next four years?
Mike Flake:Keep routine office hours at City Hall; most likely every Friday morning where people would know I’m there and can drop in. I’ll probably start a monthly newsletter to let residents know the details of what’s going on at City Hall and make the distribution via e-mail. Maybe even use the “Surveymonkey” to accompay the Newsletter to give it a more interactive flair.