No playing in the sprayground today, Bebe

So the 2 1/2-year-old resident of the Ridgewood Park neighborhood between Abrams and Fisher didn’t get to go splashing yesterday.

“I’m not an accountant, and I don’t know what the answer is,” said Bebe’s mom, Angela, who took the day off work on Monday to take her daughter to the sprayground at the Ridgewood Park rec center. “”But it’s a beautiful day, and if they’re cutting this to cut the budget, they need to find something else to cut. In this economy, people need things like this. Maybe not as much in this neighborhood, but in other neighborhoods.”

A steady stream of people, many in bathing suits, drove up to the sprayground around lunchtime Monday, only to discover that it was closed – “furloughed” as part of the scramble to trim this year’s “unexpected” budget deficit. Best yet, there were no signs saying the sprayground was turned off, nothing to tell the mothers and kids they were out of luck save for a small sign on the rec center’s front door a hundred yards away — “Closed for the July 4th holiday.”

I’m going to have more on this in my August magazine column, but something struck me Monday. The way this city is governed is wrong – plain, flat out wrong. We’re so hung up on the big picture – the convention center hotels and the tollways and the real estate deals that go with them – that we have forgotten that the government’s job is to provide services, not make it easier for rich people to get rich. The mayor and the council and the city manager can talk about construction cranes and dirt flying all they want, but that didn’t help us avoid this disaster. And it didn’t help Bebe play in the sprayground.

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