The 2012 Bond Campaign:
Meier Plays the Blame Game Yet Again
By: Susan M. Halpern
(Addison councilmember 1992 – 99)
Addison’s misguided mayor is again drumming up bad publicity for Addison. This time it’s about the 2012 bond election that Meier orchestrated. Meier claims that the staff underestimated the cost of fixing Midway Road, and that’s set off his usual search for a scapegoat.
Essentially, what Meier is now saying is that he led the council to approve holding a bond election without sufficient information or an understanding of what they were doing. Personally, I think the real issue here is that four years later, Meier doesn’t like the consequences of a risk he knowingly led the council – and Addison – to take. And of course, when Meier doesn’t like the consequences, he always plays the blame game.
Here’s the thing: Meier was Addison’s mayor during the entire 2012 bond process, from formation of the Bond Committee all the way to leading the council to vote for the bond election. If the process was deficient, then why didn’t Meier act to correct the alleged deficiency back then? And, if he failed to do so, shouldn’t he take ownership of the issue? How does Meier lead the process, claim it to be a success, and then turn around 4 years later and claim it to be a failure? You have to wonder:
Does the buck ever stop at Meier’s desk?
Here, the situation is a little more complicated. The premise of Meier’s current attack is that the amount included in the 2012 bond package was intended to cover the entire amount of the Midway Road project. But I don’t believe that was ever the case. Rather, my recollection is that the committee made the decision to include only part of the Midway Road project, because of concerns that asking the voters to approve a larger amount would lead the voters to reject the entire bond package. I’m not alone in this recollection. So, in my view, the present claims that the amounts were underestimated are, in my view, a case of comparing apples to oranges.
If you add to this assertion the fact that construction costs have escalated significantly during the past four years, and consider an almost 150% increase in the price of concrete, you start to understand how we arrived at our current situation.
Of course Meier’s apparent claims that he didn’t understand what he was doing in 2012 aren’t new. After all, this is the same Meier who in 2014 led the council to approve an $8,000,000+ contract on a $20 million project, only to turn around and lead the council to rescind the contract because Meier and the council apparently didn’t know what they were voting on. The “ready-fire-aim” approach isn’t new where Meier is concerned.
This latest Meier-fueled controversy also brings the consequences of Meier’s toxicity home to roost in a very demonstrable way. Key senior staff and management have voted with their feet, leading a mass exodus of unprecedented proportions to other municipalities or early retirement. Addison has been robbed of its institutional history by Meier’s venomous tactics. Meier alternatively complains about it, but then uses it. After all, the dearth of experienced employees has permitted Meier to fabricate false history as suits his convenience and purpose of the moment. It is straight out of George Orwell’s cautionary book “1984:” “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
And so it is here, as Meier again tries to convince Addison’s residents that some political enemy has erred, rewriting history in an effort to make the facts fit his latest story.
So here’s the REALITY. In 2012, Meier and Addison’s council were put to a choice: spend millions of taxpayer dollars to engineer projects (including Midway Road) despite the fact that Addison voters had neither considered nor approved those projects, or go with estimates. All involved understood the risks involved in proceeding with estimates, and Meier fully endorsed the decision to accept those risks.
But then, since the estimates were never intended to address the entire Midway Road project, it is hard to connect these dots to Meier’s latest campaign of misinformation. Regardless, if Meier now contends that there were problems with the 2012 bond process, as far as I’m concerned, the buck on this issue stops with Meier.
Here’s the real challenge Addison’s present and future councils really face: How does Addison fund repairs to Midway Road and other important projects on the heels of Meier’s five-year tax and spend assault on Addison’s taxpayers?
“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Another quote from George Orwell that seems very apt these days.