May 17, 2010

Saving Coach O’Brien: Letter writing campaign to keep the city paying for Masters Swim coach position

The City Council will continue its discussion about which programs to keep—and which to ax—as it tries to balance the budget.  Members of the city’s nationally recognized Masters Swim Team continue to voice their hope that their beloved coach, Kerry O’Brien, keeps his job.

Masters Team swim members pleaded their cause at the City Council meeting two weeks ago. Now they have flooded the council—sorry, couldn’t avoid this verb—with letters, presenting their reasons for why the team isn’t just good for the team’s some 500 swimmers, but for the city, too. 

The city proposes to discontinue funding for O’Brien and the assistant coaches. The team has more than 300 members, adults of all abilities from their 20s to seniors. They joined the team to swim for fitness and for competition. Many rise early to make their daily practices at Clarke Memorial Swim Center at Heather Farm. O’Brien has been coaching the team since 1980 and is himself an accomplished butterflier who competes in the 45-49 age group.

“The Walnut Creek Masters Team plays a vital role in making Walnut Creek the top desired location in the Bay Area for new residents and visotrs. The number one reason why people love Walnut Creek is because of its healthy, competitive sports and outdoor recreation lifestyle.

If the city does not fund the coaches, WCM may need to let them go because our dues cannot cover the cost of their employment,” write brothers Jon and Ben Luchesse

Many on the team reside right here in the city, there are some who travel great distances.
Walnut Creek business also directly benefit from a strong, robust [masters swim team]. We patronize the city’s swim and sporting goods stores. We regularly gather after practice. …

It is well known that most residents and visitors to our city are drawn here for our unmatched outdoor, recreational and sporting activities. Some may think it’s the shopping, but really many of the stores in Broadway Plaza are the same ones you can find at nearby malls. What really makes Walnut Creek unique is that it is the perfect place for competitive and recreational athletes.  Where else can one get top-notch swim instruction, in a beautiful swim facility, under the sentinel of Mt. Diablo?”

Rob Butcher, executive director of U.S. Masters Swimming writes: “More than 30 years ago, the city pioneered a partnership with Walnut Creek Masters that today is being modeled across the country. Your partnership included empoying Kerry O’Brien as a masters swimming coach. You partnership signaled a commitment tot he citizens of WC to offer and adult swimming lifestyle program that would be accessible and make a difference in the quality of their lives.”

One team member said she moved to Walnut Creek for the sole purpose of swimming on the masters team. She also made important friends on the team. “Best of all, I found a partner and we have been married for 15 years. My husband and I have two children who are swimmers as well—this has all been a direct result of the masters!”

The council is set to finalize its budget by June 15. 


Anonymous said...

Seems to me that when the City is $20 million in the hole, that maybe the swim program members should actually pay for the swim program themselves, rather than taking the money out of basic city services like police, street maintenance, building inspection, parks maintenance, etc.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. They should pay 100% of the costs and maybe the city could discount the pool fees or something.

Anonymous said...

It is a great program but it just can't be justified right now.

Anonymous said...

So let me see if I have this right... The swim team wants me to subsidize their entertainment? Why not step up and pay for your own fun? With 500 members to spread the cost out over, as the article claims, pay to play would not be that expensive. Why the sense of entitlement?

Anonymous said...

Todd, the manager at heather farms that is resonsible for facilitating most of the youth programs that the kids do in the summer has been told he will be cut. He has been a 20+ yr employee and provides summer recreation for hundreds of kids. if we have money to save anyone lets save todd. it is a shame that a city that used to be known for being humane to its employees are now down to eating its own young. so much for being an employer of choice....

Anonymous said...

I'll bet Boundary Oaks hosts more than 500 avid golfers who patronize local sports shops and gather afterwards. Any chance for a subsidy here? Now that would really make Walnut Creek the top desired location in the Bay Area for new residents and visitors!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:35 -Yes. The swim team and pool members want you to subsidize their entertainment - the same way that you and I subsidize non-core subjects and activities in middle and high schools like music, choir, and sports. Why the sense of entitlement? Because they've been raised by their parents, also known as "voters", with the mindset that they get what they want without thinking of what it costs or will cost.

WC is claims to be an "employer of choice"? That's a good one! That must be a human resources' or upper management's marketing term used to encourage employees to work for less.

Anonymous said...

If dues don't cover the costs maybe they should raise the dues... you know, the same way voters keep taxing themselves to oblivion for the sake of the children....... remember the children..... the children.. the ones who are conditioned with a sense of entitlement (as stated above)


Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm too old for this group, but when I was growing up in Walnut Creek it was indeed all about our children. We had music and P.E., Home Economics and Art. We didn't see our responsibility to raise our children as "conditioning an entitlement". We never thought twice about how we could better spend the money on ourselves. Subsidizing children! What an embarrassment this current "Sara Palin" generation has become.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I agree with you.
Attending public schools in the late fifties and early sixties, I had classes in PE, music, wood shop, language, science, drafting, metal shop and speech before high school. Oh, and neat field trips. What's with some of these posters about entitlements?
Of course, now I get it. My parents were from the greatest generation. Were they instilling me with a sense of entitlement by assuring that I had opportunities? I don't think so and I am grateful for their efforts. Now I try to return the fvor to the next gebneration when I can.

Anonymous said...

8:27 & 9:03,

There's one big difference between today and the time when you were going to school: Your parents and their parents were paying for it in the form of higher taxes, perhaps because they saw the value to society in doing so. Back in the “good old days” the top Federal income tax bracket varied between 69% and 91% (generally for people making over $1 million a year in today's dollars), as opposed to the current top tax bracket of only 35%. And let's not forget that Prop 13 didn't exist yet then either, so your parents paid the same property tax as their neighbors did, regardless of how long ago they bought their house, and the overall rate was sometimes higher than what you pay now.

Back then we were a great state with a great infrastructure and the world’s greatest schools. Now, not so much. But then again, today everybody wants the entitlements without having to pay for them.

I for one think that we should be paying more taxes because I see the value in good schools, good hospitals, good roads, good parks, etc. But seeing as how that's not likely to happen anytime soon, then I do think it is wise for the City to cut the swim coach before they cut the police officer or the building inspector.

I Am Legend said...

Why do you think the city is $20 million in the hole? Yup, it's that fateful decision four years ago, where council members, Regalia( resigned but hand picked Silva), Abrams, Rainey, Hicks (resigned but worked on Silva campaign) and Cindy Silva all voted yes to an over-sized, over-budgeted project!

Anonymous said...

7:38 & 7:50,

FYI most school districts are cutting sports. In half of Walnut Creek, Mt. Diablo School District cut ALL after-school sports last year. Sports are continued each season only if parents donate and fundraising is successful. My 3 children cannot participate in school sports because our family cannot afford the fees. Instead my family saves our discretionary money so we can donate for academic programs - we donate thousands every year. Still, the district has cut summer school, and in the next school year, we'll have less school days (5 furlough days), less teachers, and less classes offered. At the same time the City may cut children's activities such as summer programs and Civic Arts.

Anonymous said...

My kids are on a neighborhood swim team here in WC. We, the members, pay 100% -- why can't the Masters swim team members as well? No one is subsidizing our swim team. I have no problem with cutting this -- this is a low priority for city funding, IMO.

Anonymous said...

If you can not afford to pay your own way then go swim where it is free.

Sharon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Brittain said...

Just for information,

Traditionally, the City has supported about 50% of the recreational activities from their budget. Of late, the proportion has shifted toward more support from the participants.

Boundary Oak Golf Course has been a self-sustaining operation for many years.

I am not sure about the allocation of funds at th micro level for masters swimmers.

I Am Legend said...

Bob, can't you admit that as a result of the overspending on the library, we are now in a much tougher economic position?

Anonymous said...

Dear Legend,

Bob nor any other ardent supporter of the ill conceived mega-library will ever admit that too much money was spent on this one project to the detriment of other vital services in Walnut Creek.

Their reasoning(?) is to play the blame game.....the downturn in the economy = less sales tax revenue = all of the financial woes that the City is now experiencing.

Unhappy resident

Anonymous said...

Come July, the Swimmers can read all about Coach OBrien's career in the Walnut Creek Archives section of the new $45 million library!

Anonymous said...

9:45 am

Love the irony!

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