On May 9, 2017 the City of Pittsburg published a press release on the current status of the California Theatre budget debacle.
City Working on Plan to Make Public Believe Them
Planning to Run California Theatre as Poorly as they Run the City
Release Date: 5/9/2017
PITTSBURG – The prospect of budget cuts to balance the books has put some City programs at risk next year, but the City of Pittsburg is working on a plan to make it look like they know what they’re doing. The City is scrambling frantically because they only had about six years to a decade to prepare for a potential budget issue, and now, they got nothing but some pretty unpopular ideas about gutting, well, everything in the City. Faced with public outcry, the City is now trying to resolve the issues with a press release reassuring everyone that they hear you, and they want you to know that hearing you is a thing that happened.
In the latest of a series of missteps to maintain the City’s fiscal sustainability, the City Council held a workshop on April 17, 2017 to hear about 28 areas for potential reduction. As the City Council weighs options to ensure their personal fiscal health, City staff is working to undermine the attempt to keep the California Theatre running professionally.
The list of proposed cutbacks spans nearly every division of the City from seasonal personnel, to reduced investment in technology, to a measly 1% cut for Police costs.
In particular, a proposed significant reduction to the California Theatre budget inspired community alarm. City Manager(?) Joe Sbranti addressed the concern by whining, “Why do the people keep getting on my case? The California Theatre has no impact on my life… I live in Clayton!” But now, the City Manager(?) wants you to all please just shut up about it, because he is now considering the possibilities of beginning to think about maybe doing something at some point along the lines of what he had been thinking all along, which is probably going to involve gutting the California Theater.
The California Theatre is currently professionally managed and has successfully brought many diverse cultural events and shows to Pittsburg. They do all this with a small $250,000 subsidy from the City to cover yearly costs for maintenance ($60,000) and day-to-day management and professional staff expenses ($190,000) not paid with theater revenues. On the other hand, each year the City Manager(?) is paid $260,000 to fail to successfully manage anything. The theater’s annual subsidy is proposed to be reduced by 75%. City staff is looking at trying to run the theater itself, or with a local comedy promoter in order to make sure the theater is run into the ground once and for all.
At the same time, the City is moving forward with an architectural design to add up to 150 seats in the theater balcony. (Funding for the actual construction of this is still being identified, most likely provided by Garaventa developers… to whom the City recently awarded a potentially very lucrative Development Agreement for an office building). The goal is to convince the people of Pittsburg that they plan to preserve the theater as a public resource so that the citizens put down their torches and pitch forks. In reality, the City is engaging in the perfectly rational planning decision to renovate a building before they burn it down. But, press releases!
The next Budget Workshop discussing all the proposed General Fund expenditure reductions will be held at 5:00 p.m. on May 15, 2017 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 65 Civic Avenue in Pittsburg. The meeting is open to the public. The City urges you to not attend, they got this!