Daniel Borenstein, Contra Costa Times, put out a piece on Sunday which accuses Oakley’s city manager of multiple public deceptions and not sacrificing enough. This piece is nothing more than a stretch of the imagination at best. It should be dismissed before it gains traction and wastes a lot of people’s time.
Before I continue, it should be noted Mr. Montgomery is currently overseeing four-positions. Borenstein decided to leave that one out but claims Montgomery is not sacrificing enough.
Upon first read, I was truly outraged and thought I’d been had by the council. Upon reads two and three, I felt better as this was not comparing apples to apples, but rather apples to oranges with many assumptions used to connect the dots.
Mr. Borenstein, without technically writing it or even proving anything, makes the connection that the Oakley taxpayer paid for Mr. Montgomery’s investment. By breaking it down, he does it as follows:
- Home 1 – 2½ years ago, the city council excused him from payments on his taxpayer-funded mortgage
- He was able to save money by not making mortgage payments on home 1 (April 2009-July 2011)
- Interest was not included in the deferral – a $12,700 bonus
- Purchased home 2 as an investment for $175,000 home (April 2010)
- Sold Home 2 for $177,000
- Home 1 – the city was to trade the $508,000 balance for about a $141,500 equity position in the house
- Claims under the latest deal that the city taxpayer would lose $366,000.
Mr. Borentstein essentially hints that the deferral money saved by not making a house payment was used to purchase a second home. This is nothing more than an assumption.
How does he know the money saved was used to buy a second home? Mr. Montgomery makes near $200,000 per year. He could make four house payments if he really wanted to—and that is without his wife’s salary.
He then claims the city would lose $366,000 in the latest deal. How could the city lose money if the house is not sold? Mr. Montgomery is still responsible for the loan as long as he is in the home. If Mr. Montgomery sold the home or walked away, that is a different story. But the assumption is dangerous.
The truth is, Mr. Montgomery used his own money to purchase a second home as an investment in which no one should be angry about—it was his own money, not ours! He made a personal business decision, so what? Rather than encourage investment in the Oakley economy, Borenstein tears it down in nothing more than a conspiracy theory. There is nothing wrong with it and rather immature of a columnist to make this accusation.
Borenstein knows people are having a hard time and is only seeking to capitalize on emotions in this opinion piece. He is playing the class warfare card to essentially get Oakley residence to ask the question “how is that fair?”
I find it disgusting that he is using class warfare as this is a non-issue as this is an investment that has nothing to do with his city contract nor city funds. Due to this hit piece, Mr. Montgomery is now going to be stuck wasting his time answering emails and phone calls from people asking “if you could not afford your home, why did you purchase a second home?”
It’s a waste of time because home 1 has nothing to do with home 2. It’s as simple as that.
The truth is, people should focus on is a single line in Borensteins article where he states the following:
“After I revealed the hidden details last month and city residents loudly protested, the council and Montgomery rescinded the deal.”
Okay, so who within the inner circle of trust is talking to reporters about confidential meeting details? That is criminal in itself. Who is playing hero while actually breaking the law?
I urge people that prior to jumping to conclusions that one realizes Mr. Borenstein is a columnist and editorial writer—he is not an investigative reporter. As a former reporter for nearly six years, I know there is a huge difference in writing technique. Investigation pieces seek out facts, opinion pieces are just what they are… opinions!
How do I know this, its pretty simple.
There was no mention of a specific employee/employee average of their sacrifice in terms of reduced hours, workload, paycheck and so forth—there was a single line stating furloughs and pension contributions with no details given. Once you have staff sacrifices identified, one would then compare it against what Mr. Montgomery has or has not sacrificed. You would also have to then factor in his additional roles he has taken on due to lack of staffing. Only then can you make the case one is deceiving the public.
These types of columns are written to get people riled up. I guess it worked based off the multiple emails I’ve received about the column. The whole argument over shared sacrifice is nonsense because those accused are never in a position to win.
The reason being, who gets to determine who has made enough or to little? It essentially comes down to an opinion–which of course, is the reason for Borensteins piece.
The line in the sand has been drawn; I just might be on the unpopular side.