(Editor’s note: The following commentary was read to the Madera City Council Wednesday night by Nick Benjamin, executive director of the Madera Housing Authority.)
Honored City Council and Redevelopment Agency Board, forgive me for writing to you about matters of which you are all keenly aware. However, I feel compelled to go on public record at a time when words such as dissolution, elimination and closure are used in describing the proposed status of the Madera Redevelopment Agency. Thanks to the work of Gov. Jerry Brown, partisan politicians in the state Legislature and the California Supreme Court, you and all agency boards across the state have been brought to the crossroads of being forced to eliminate (at least for now) their redevelopment agencies, including the Madera Redevelopment Agency.
I realize that the actions you will likely take tonight will be accompanied with feelings of deep regret. Further, by taking the action required, you are being faithful to your sworn duty, and in both regards, I have the utmost respect for all of you.
I urge you and the fine leadership and staff of the agency to be of good courage. I say this not because of the current and continuing work of advocates to amend or introduce new legislation to somehow save, restructure or revive redevelopment agencies. I offer you all encouragement because regardless of the fervent efforts of politicians, regardless of the horror stories of wasteful spending from a handful of redevelopment agencies in the state and regardless of what the future holds, the work, the indelible mark of the Madera Redevelopment Agency cannot, will not, ever be eliminated or dissolved.
In this time of forced dissolution and political maneuvering, I have resisted the temptation to rail and accuse the parties responsible. Instead, it is most appropriate to simply express gratitude, personally and on behalf of many. Thank you to the agency board, leadership and fine staff of the Madera Redevelopment Agency for your many, many accomplishments. Thank you on behalf of the hundreds of Madera families who reside in homes that you are responsible for constructing and making available. Thank you on behalf of the senior citizens and the low-income families who reside in quality affordable rental housing that would not have been possible without your contribution.
Finally, thank you on behalf of the thousands of Maderans who benefit from the numerous street and sidewalk improvements, graffiti abatement and code enforcement and countless other redevelopment projects, too numerous to list.
Eliminated, dissolved, I respectfully disagree. Regardless of what new changes legislation may or may not bring, I submit to you that as long as there is Madera, the Madera Redevelopment Agency lives on.
Executive Director, Housing Authority of the City of Madera