The Peanut Gallery
I've been meaning to comment on this:
From The Life of Jason Interview: Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson, when Jason said:
"During the announcement of Mr. Hammons landing the deal for the arena site, you made the statement “I’ll bet any day of the week, I’ll bet on people that have got real money at risk, time, money and effort to spend as opposed to the people from the peanut gallery.” Several of your critics have taken this statement and said this proves you are not betting on the average Springfield resident but only those with money. I wanted to give you the chance to explain that statement and to explain what you meant by the term “peanut gallery.”
Mayor Carlson responded, in part:
"What I was responding to was this: there were people who had real money at risk who had entered into the competitive process to see who would get to build on that land. There were other people who were critics of the city government who said the process was rigged. What I was trying to say was this: Those people who were saying the process was rigged were not trying to acquire the land. The people that had their money at risk and had to decide whether to spend their money here and their resources really do drill down and figure out whether they think the rules are fair. Those people said it was fair..."
Well, yeah, sorta. Here's the timeline of Richard Baier of BC Development's statements. There was a bit of inconsistency there:
October 3 letter to Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith
“There does not seem to be a desire by the TIF Commission or the City to enter into open and fair competition for the development of these projects.”
October 5 interview with Vincent David Jericho on KSGF radio
Baier: “My only reluctance to do business in Springfield would be, if there’s a public bid type process. Maybe I don’t understand all the politics in that type of thing, and I would push away from doing that. But as far as private development, where I go down and look for a site to build a medical project or retail or whatever the case might be or another hotel, I’m all for that because I like Springfield.”
Vince: “So, private development, love to do; dealing with the City of Springfield, you’d have to think twice?”
Baier: “Yeah, I’d have to think a couple of times, there.”
October 22 City Council meeting
“We don’t feel that we’ve been mistreated in any way, shape or fashion on this process. We’re definitely interested in working with the city.”
The Audit Report Fall-out
I don't necessarily disagree with Doug Burlison that it would be counter productive to go on a witch hunt after hearing the audit report and reading what has been written after the report in the News-Leader and on certain blogs but I'm thinking that Councilman Burlison arrived at that position after being privy to the results of the audit for some time (like at least a YEAR). Burlison has had time to process the information from that audit and his end conclusion is that it is better to look ahead and fix the problems rather than look backward and try to place the blame. Burlison might be correct in his decision but, citizens of this city should be allowed that same span of time to process the information contained in the audit report and come to that conclusion after grappling with the facts of the audit report for a while. Citizens of Springfield deserve the same amount of time to fuss, complain and discuss the details of the audit report as, rest assured, the City Council has had and in more than one closed meeting prior to the hearing of the report December 6.
I suspect that these warnings against "witch hunts" and this promise to do better in the future is meant in some small way to placate the citizens, to calm the "Peanut Gallery," if you will. I don't resent the public's anger and frustration over the results of the audit on the City of Springfield. Just as the City and Council have had a good amount of time to come to grips with the state of this City, the citizens of this city deserve at least the same amount of time to process it. AND we deserve to be allowed to process it without being smeared and condemned for it or treated as though we are some second class, low-life "Peanut Gallerians" in the process.
Nationally, there has been an outcry from the American public for government accountability that will extend to local government and no amount of city officials patting citizens on the head will make it all go away.
So, to those citizens who take an interest in their local city government and criticize the way it has been run in past years, there's nothing wrong with that. Don't let anyone suggest you are being counter productive when you need the same amount of time to mentally process the results of the audit report that the city has had in dealing with and responding to the report. It is a natural process and will run it's natural course and citizens deserve to be allowed that process without being told they are "going on a witch hunt" or being counter productive. Don't believe it when you want to have your say in your local government and hold them accountable, it's your job.
The next shoe is going to drop on December 18 when the State Auditor releases and reports on the City Utilities audit. Poor timing for the City, they'll likely still be hearing from the public about the results of the City audit when they are faced with the new report on City Utilities and I suspect it's going to be a really big shoe.