Did His “Common Sense Approach” Work for San Carlos?

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Councilman Matt Grocott describes his approach as one centering around common sense.  At the same time,  it would be nearly impossible to find a more polarizing figure in San Carlos than Councilman Grocott. From the budget to synthetic turf, his name is the one that consistently comes up.

I thought long and hard about writing this post, but in recent weeks it has become evident that he, by himself, is a major topic for discussion in San Carlos. Quickly going through the most recent comments on this blog will prove that very point.  Let me be clear, this is not intended to be a forum to praise or attack Councilman Grocott.  I realize there is a lot of anger and a lot of support over the decisions he has made and some of the campaigns he has led.  If you have a well-reasoned post supporting or critiquing the actions by Councilman Grocott, we will happily post them.   Regardless of how you feel personally about his service to San Carlos, the fact is that I believe you do need to respect the time and energy he does put forth.  For the most part, being on city council is an unbelievable time commitment and it is time that he takes away from his family in order to do what he believes is best for San Carlos.

The overwhelming majority of the anger that has recently surfaced centers around the defeat of Measure U.  Councilman Grocott did not support Measure U and, in fact, championed the fight against Measure U, stating that San Carlos did not need an additional 1/2 cent sales tax and could instead focus its efforts on trimming the city budget. With many of the proposed budget cuts now becoming public after being released from the different city departments, residents are starting to get a glimpse into the reality of what San Carlos may look like with the proposed budget cuts in place. Deep cuts in police, fire, safety, parks and other city-staffed positions will all impact the way residents view their city.  In some cases, it already has.  One thing about running a blog like this and working in San Carlos real estate is that you do hear from the community on a daily basis on a number of topics.  The one thing I can tell you is that there is a considerable amount of anger out there right now.  People feel like they are paying a premium to live in San Carlos and with the proposed budget cuts in place, many are starting to wonder if San Carlos is worth it.  It kills me to say that because you will not find a bigger supporter of San Carlos than myself, but if I am giving a fair assessment of what I have come upon over the last few weeks, it’s the truth.

Councilman Grocott has consistently put himself as the “1” in many 4-1 votes in San Carlos.  Some view this as being disruptive, others view it as having the courage to stick to his beliefs and protect a valid minority interest.  On the recent major issues to come before city council, Councilman Grocott has been the lone dissenting city council member.  He was the only one not to endorse Measure U and he was the only one not to vote in favor of installing the synthetic turf.

I believe that Councilman Grocott has a very loyal following in San Carlos.  The question is whether his support is waning in the wake of the defeat of Measure U as the impact is now being realized.  Interestingly, in an unopposed election in November, he finished behind Councilman Grasilli and the newest member to the San Carlos City Council, Andy Klein. He was 274 votes behind Councilman Grasilli and 118 votes behind Councilman Klein.

In fairness to Councilman Grocott, the cuts put forth so far are only proposed cuts.  Before becoming entirely unglued, I would say that those who are most angry should wait and judge the defeat of Measure U on the actual cuts, once they are accepted by the city council

I have spoken with some residents who say they voted against Measure U, but had no idea the proposed cuts would ever get this deep or affect their lives to the point where they would realize a substantial impact. This reaction has supporters of Measure U with their hands up in the air.  If anything positive does come out of the current budget crisis, it is perhaps the fact that more San Carlans appear to more closely monitoring what is going on in their city.

There are many San Carlos residents who praise Councilman Grocott’s common sense approach of not spending what the city doesn’t have and further reject the idea of raising taxes as a way to get from point A to B, especially in a recession.

It is very easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback. Councilman Grocott or any other single individual is not to blame for the budgetary crisis in San Carlos.  The reality of the budget crisis in San Carlos is just now settling in for most residents.  The focus should now be on finding a solution.  The first major attempt at saving city services and to help close the budget shortfall was shot down when Measure U went down to defeat. Now, the most immediate solution seems to be trimming the budget to the point where it is becoming uncomfortable for San Carlos residents.  Whether the “common sense” approach works for San Carlos through budget cuts remains to be seen.

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