On Thursday, April 21 at one of the last afternoons of the Radisson Hotel, Mayor Chris Armenta spoke to a crowd of hundreds who turned out for this final bow, and the state of the city speech. While there were no helicopters passing overhead, comments about the other big political event of the day, President Obama’s appearance at Sony Studios, circled the conversations like a landing pattern. Even City Manager John Nachbar had to acknowledge in his introduction that the premiere political event of the day was a matter of perspective.
The introduction of all notables, past mayors, current council members and city staff was interrupted by applause even though the audience had been requested to wait. It was not that the level of enthusiasm in the room was irrepressible, only that there had to be some gesture of appreciation to those who had put in so much time and effort. The address that we were all waiting to hear was understandably grim.
In his accustomed manner, Mayor Armenta was soft spoken and casual. When Armenta took to the podium, he noted that the city government “was like a family- We don’t always agree, but we are always respectful.”
When it was time to discuss the elephant in the room- the ongoing fiscal crisis- Armenta offered that, “We are in better shape than many other cites, but the funding gap still remains.” With a budget of 82.5 million for the current fiscal year, the projected deficit was six million dollars. Allowing that 80% of general fund expenditure went for payroll, he said that the city was looking to “identify waste and search out opportunities for new resources.”
Offering that the city services such as police and fire were in excellent shape, Armenta noted that there were no homicides in the past year and that robberies were down by a significant percentage. “Our police officers put in 36,000 hours of volunteer time,” saving the city money and keeping the community safe.
Looking forward to the arrival of the Expo train in 2012, and noting the hopeful plan for development on Parcel B, Armenta was certain the future would be bright.
“The Culver City of my childhood was a sleepy little town. Now, sleepy is not the word, and Culver City offers something for everyone.” He closed by saying “It has been an honor to serve as mayor this past year.”
With the council agenda tonight set to turn the mayoral office over to the Vice Mayor, Mehaul O’Leary, Armenta’s tenure might be remembered as a time of relative ease, or the quiet before the storm.