Monday, October 22, 2007

A proud apologist for "the peanut gallery"

All is well in the City of Springfield, Missouri. Rick Baier of BC Development said nothing to embarrass the City and everything to protect BC Development and Rick Baier. He's one of those "very sophisticated people," that Mayor Carlson spoke about, remember?

The fact is, the City got a better deal than they could have gotten (or would get if they reopened the process), just as Carlson said when he spoke at the Council luncheon meeting on October 16:

"...this community is now looking at getting $7 million for something that they could have gotten a heck of a lot less for."

There are members of staff who are celebrating tonight and who will fall into bed later, pull the covers up to their necks and fall off to sleep in blissful peace.

After the flak Mayor Carlson took over his statement about the "peanut gallery," he and Mary Collette made a point to express how pleased they were when a citizen offered critical remarks about the shortfall the city will take in paying off the parking garage that Hammons will soon own and control.

Collette, not long ago, allowed citizens 2 minutes to tell why they opposed the container ordinance and an additional 3 minutes if they had something constructive to say. She told citizens at that special Community Involvement Committee meeting:

"As Chair of this committee, we don’t even always take public comment but I just want you to know that we want to hear from each and every one of you, well, maybe not."


It was nice to see them making an effort to let the public know their comments are welcome. We can hope it was sincere.

But, back to Baier of BC Development, I told my husband over a week ago that I could see two choices for Rick Baier. He could come to the defense of Becky Spence and take on the City of Springfield or he could fire her and throw her under the bus. I didn't understand at the time that Spence was not a partner with BC Development, rather just an associate that BC Development was working with locally on this deal if they should win the bid for land at the former arena site. I'm going to guess that while Baier doesn't need to fire Spence under the circumstances, that he will likely not look to do business with her in the future. I think we should keep in mind that it is in the best interest of Rick Baier to play nice, not simply because he might want to work a future deal with the City of Springfield but because he might like to work future deals with other city governments in Missouri, city governments who have contact at meetings and events with other Missouri state muncipalities. You don't become a "sophisticated person with money to risk" by airing your dirty laundry in public.

Just as in the case of the Heer's deal the city had no choice on this deal and they really SHOULD be thanking their lucky stars they got the deal they got.

David Queen, the Attorney who worked with Mary Lilly Smith in the negotiations of term sheets between Hammons and HCW Evergreen said that the city could go through this process as many times as they wanted to, there was no limit to how many times they could restart the process, but now that all the cards are on the table, now that it is on record that Hammons is the ONLY developer that could make the deal work because of his exclusive right to food and beverage sales, his ownership of the 90' easement and his side deal with Opus to build new offices for BKD on a piece of Hammon's property, the city would NEVER be able to negotiate $7 million if this were reopened for bids again. This is the deal the city has and it's much better than it could have been.

Hammons, in his exclusive interview with KSPR after the luncheon meeting on October 16 made it pretty clear that he didn't much like the idea of building a hotel on the site, that he had concerns about Branson's new airport and the amenities they offer in Branson.

There are a lot of people who will likely be calling on Vincent David Jericho for an apology but I won't be one of them. I think he deserves a big thank you. It's my opinion that Vince has been good for the process. The business of the City of Springfield needs attention and input from its citizens.

If a dull, dry, timid, radio talk show host droned sweetly to his listeners,

"You should go to City Council meetings and stay involved in the process,"


...how many people do you think would have jumped through hoops to attend a Council meeting? How many people would be watching City government and City Council if Vince didn't "go over the wall?"

I don't care if you like Vincent David Jericho or not, I don't care if you like his methods or not, he's made and he's making changes in communications in our city and our community and regardless of whether Becky Spence took him for a ride or not, how many people in this city would be paying attention, be engaged and interested in city government if it weren't for him?

Just like everyone in the opinion business, sometimes you're going to be right and sometimes you're going to be wrong, Vince will be right and Vince will be wrong but even when he's wrong he's still right about one thing, citizens need to pay attention to their government and sometimes, once in a great while (and in the domain of radio talk) maybe the end justifies the means.

So, sure, beat the heck out of Vince if you want to, that's every person's perogative, just be careful, unless you never make a mistake yourself. I'm still a commoner and I still believe in the peanut gallery, my favorite guy is still the little guy and I'd still "bet" on him, not because he's "sophisticated," not because he's got "real money at risk," but because the little guy's opinion matters too. No one should be disparaged unfairly. Everyone deserves respect and if you think Vincent David Jericho hasn't invested his time and put his money where his mouth is in this community then you haven't been paying attention.

If, as a couple of City Council members said tonight, they are happy to hear from the citizens of Springfield, Missouri they should be thanking Vincent David Jericho. They are hearing from many more citizens than they used to hear from and we all know why.

Look, we shouldn't be about the city government vs the citizens of Springfield or the citizens of Springfield vs the city government. When, at all possible, we can give accolades to our city government for doing something right, then we should. Of course we'll always be able to find things that could have been done better. The city is right that they'll never work a deal or pass a bill or resolution that everyone in the city is happy with but if we all pay attention and we all work together then perhaps we can communicate ourselves to a time in the future when we can all celebrate together and isn't that what we all really want? We want good government. The city is saying it wants input from its citizens. Everyone should keep giving that input, not just the people that agree with what the city is doing but also those that disagree, and as Tony Messenger said in a recent column:

"...The best roads laid by government, in my book, are bumpy ones with lots of twists and turns. But we drive there together, like a big family squeezed into a station wagon going on a long summer vacation.

Sure, we'll fight and squirm and lash out at each other every now and then, but that's just part of the fun."


Contention and disagreement are not a bad thing, they are healthy when they are seen through to the end, the end being true communication and understanding.

I think Vincent David Jericho should keep doing his job, city staff should keep doing their jobs, City Council should keep doing theirs and as a citizen of Springfield you need to be doing yours.

Later, we're going to be looking at the statements Baier has made for consistency. I think that'll be interesting too. :)

Ya'll have a good night. Some of you can eat your peanuts now, those that didn't leave them in the seats at City Council Chambers. ;)

16 comments:

Jason said...

It's very interesting who you hold to account.

Anonymous said...

We can only hope that when the Mayor and JQH head up to J-City to get their "real" (tax break) money, they will let some of the little people ride along.

For Mr. Baier it is all about the next deal in the next City wherever that may be.

Becky or Vince could provide some e mail to shed some light on the process. It would be great if Vince would just send a copy of all his e mail to the Council.... would save some work for our City Manager.

Jacke M. said...

I'm glad to see that Vince is examining the consistencies (or inconsistencies) of Baier's comments. His letter to M.L. Smith, his comments on Jericho's show earlier and his comments last night at the meeting just don't wash.

There are people who are going to try to use this to discredit "the peanut gallery," but there are still many questions that haven't been answered.

There have been a couple of people who have tried to manipulate me into saying or endorsing some things lately that I haven't been comfortable with saying or endorsing. We still don't know the whole story.

And, as for Jason? I don't understand your statement. Care to clarify? Who exactly did I "hold to account?"

Anonymous said...

I'm still not sure what Vince was wrong about.
Consider...

1 - The city magically 'lost contact' with all bidders other than Hammons. Why is no one in Springfield (besides Jericho) asking how that happened?

2 - The fact that Baier changed his tune is very curious... Now all of a sudden he says he was treated fairly. (This is a good business move on his part if he wants to make money on future Spr. developments.) Still, some journalist in this town (again, besides Jericho) should be asking what the heck happened?

3 - Council, as usual, is absolutely clueless about what staff has done regarding this hideous, taxpayer money wasting process which will again benefit no one but Hammons... Why does no one (except Jericho) have any questions about what city staff is doing with our tax dollars?

To be fair to council - they're volunteers who have to maintain paying jobs while they attempt to monitor city staff (an impossible task for people in council's position)...

Jericho's full time job is watching the city, and he's undertaken the task.

What excuse does every other 'journalist' in Springfield have for their failure to shed light on our government workings?

Noel

Jacke M. said...

Well, Noel, I think we do have an understanding about why the other developers lost interest in the project.

It IS curious that Baier's statements are inconsistent.

I wouldn't be surprised if some people on Council know and understand what is going on but are limited in how they can respond.

In fairness, Jericho isn't the only one in this city asking questions. There are some journalists who are doing the best they can, as they can. Journalists can't report what they don't "know" to be fact.

I do think you raise a good point about what it is that Jericho has done wrong. Other than, as he described it, his "excitement," (I think one of his callers offered good advice this morning about "hyping," which Jericho described as "excitement.") I'm having trouble figuring out what he did "wrong," myself, and could have worded some of this entry a little better. It was late and I felt a little pressured to write about it, I normally don't jump out and write about a Council meeting the night of the meeting but I allowed myself to feel pressured to get something posted last night, so yeah, some of what I wrote last night wasn't considered and processed as much as I usually try to consider and process information before writing something.

I'm happy to clarify anything anyone is curious about, though.

Duane Keys said...

I, too, was trying to figure out what Vince needed to apologize for.

Anonymous said...

It reminds me a bit of Dan Rather's "memogate." He was so intent on bringing down the mayor, et. al. that he jumped at an unreliable source without examining the facts.

Anonymous said...

one thing anonymous...

unlike Rather, we don't know that Jericho had any facts wrong...

the curiosity is Baier's inconsistency....

for all we know, Jericho was spot on...

Noel

Anonymous said...

Could there be a gang of "Mary Lillys" in other cities that would make things difficult for Mr. Baier in the future? That would be frightning.

Thank goodness we will soon have the out of town masses coming to have fun, stay in the JQH hotel, and pay taxes. That way the locals will not have to...

Did the Mayor project the date when this project will provide the first clear one dollar bill?

Anonymous said...

"Did the Mayor project the date when this project will provide the first clear one dollar bill?"

That's a fantastic question, anon...

You know, with a shrinking police force and growing gang numbers, how many people will be flocking downtown to spend money at out Expo facility...?

Noel

Jacke M. said...

Duane,

Last night, after the council meeting, someone suggested to me that they thought it would be appropriate for Jericho to apologize and in fact, this person thought Jericho SHOULD apologize. I was not willing to agree with that sentiment. That is why the issue was brought up in this blog because I fully expected there would be a call today for that. It's possible I thwarted it by writing this before anyone called for it? ;)

Anonymous said...

Vince has not released all the information he has on this mess as of yet.

It seems that Mr. Baier did not read from his prepared statement that he brought down from KC. I would suppose this item would be of interest to read...

I would think the Mayor would need to first apoligze for another multi-million dollar loss for the taxpayers of Springfield.

Jason said...

Anonymous:

When I had my conversation 45 minutes before the start of the meeting with Rick Baier which I posted on my blog, he showed me his letter that he was going to be giving to the city council that night. All the comments in my blog about my conversation with him came directly from items in that letter. Everything he said at the podium was in the letter that he brought to the council.

I can't say if he showed something else to Becky Spence but the letter he showed me on BC Developments letterhead and signed by him contained everything he said when he spoke to the Council.

Vincent David Jericho said...

Jacke: Check me on this but when you do you will discover that The City of Springfield received a copy of RB's letter BEFORE he ever arrived in the city.

In light of his documented criticism of the city both on my show and in his letter does it not seem strange that he would send his comments to the city before he addressed them and then Mary L. Smith tells him everything is cool before he speaks?

Sorry folks this does NOT pass the smell test.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a Lilly mystery, if she could simply state all that was said, everyone could be "cool."

Fortunately, the City has enough tax money that they can waste whatever they want & give tax breaks to whoever they want. It is time for the public simply to sit back and watch this, and all the other downtown projects produce revenue, NO votes on new taxes should be needed for at least 20 years.

If Mr. Cumley is leaving, I would guess that it is time for everyone to move up a step in City Hall again. What extra retirement costs were incured by having him in the CM position for such a short time??

Jacke M. said...

Vince wrote:

"In light of his documented criticism of the city both on my show and in his letter does it not seem strange that he would send his comments to the city before he addressed them and then Mary L. Smith tells him everything is cool before he speaks?"

Yes, it does seem strange. Now, he sent a letter to M.L. Smith back on the 3rd that was later read by Spence at the Council meeting but that was an entirely different thing. There are a lot of odd things about this that bear a little more scrutiny and as soon as I can come up for air I'd like to look into it some more.

My Mom's in the hospital and her primary care physician is out of town, so she's getting handed off to this Dr. and that Dr. who don't really know her very complicated history and I have my hands full right now. I'm finding it very difficult to find time for anything other than my *regular* priority activities. Ah, but that's life. :)