Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why Was State Theatre at a Budget Hearing?

Tuesday's Northampton County budget hearing included a $25,000 proposed grant to Easton's State Theatre. This wonderful artsy farsty venture originally asked for $55,000, but Stoffa's administration slashed that request by more than half. Three people from that nonprofit, including Executive Director Shelley Brown, mysteriously appeared on Tuesday. Of 21 grant recipients, only the State bothered sending someone.

How did that happen?

I spoke yesterday with Lori G. Sywensky, the county's very capable Community Development Administrator. In previous years, the county would decide grants based on a phone call or letter to a council member. This year, the county tried to impose a little more objectivity on "quality of life" grants, funded with hotel taxes. A three-person committee was formed, and every group seeking money was required to submit a funding request, which is available online.

All but three requests were approved. The three rejected applicants were Sun Inn (they wanted to hire two people), Zellner Arts (wanted post show parties) and Musikfest (already getting $1 million over the next five years).

Approved applicants were notified by mail. No one was advised about Wednesday's budget hearing. So why did the State have three representatives there?

The answer to that question became apparent during the hearing. Council Prez Ann McHale just happened to notice them, and they just happened to have drawings of all the changes they are always making. Now, the administration has already approved $25,000 for improvements to the marquee, but the State is also installing plush new bathrooms for its members and high rollers, something that Council Prez McHale just loves.

McHale clearly wants those new poopers. "Why such a drastic reduction in their request?", she demanded after admiring the new rain closets.

It's pretty clear that McHale is the reason why State Theatre was present at Tuesday's budget hearing. It's pretty clear that's why they had drawings of their fancy new throne rooms. It's also pretty clear that if McHale wants fancy new bidets at the State, she should donate her money, not the county's.

Tomorrow, if still alive, I'll detail all of the quality of life grants.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can Council, Ann McHale or even Stoffa justify giving any of these garnats out. This is BS, The Fed's are out of money, the State is out of money and the County is saying it can't afford services, or even the prison.
With all of this we are giving $25K to the State Theatre. What about the other grants.
Simple, 'just say no', I have been to a few meetings and all these groups give the same speech. Without the ______ the community will suffer, the people will be hurt,Ecoonomic develop[ment will tank, etc., again BS.These elected officials attend to many of these 'complimentary' wine and cheese parties. I for one will not vote for any incumbent in the County.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, the hotel tax revenue is supposed to go to "quality of life" grants. The money can't be used for anything else.

Anonymous said...

My memory may be getting fuzzy -- But I seem to remember that Reibman's mega bond included a serious chunk of change for bathrooms at the State Theatre. Just how many taxpayer funded crappers does that place need?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"If I'm not mistaken, the hotel tax revenue is supposed to go to "quality of life" grants. The money can't be used for anything else."

You are absolutely correct. Hotel tax is being used to fund these grants, and it must be used to promote tourism.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Just how many taxpayer funded crappers does that place need?"

The grant this time goes to the marqueee, but McHale was just ecstatic at the thought of brand new crappers for the foo foo members. I didn't even know they had to use the bathroom. I thought they just went fox hunting and things like that.

State Theatre is a good group and money spent there is good for Easton. But I have a rough time with funding for private bathrooms.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" I seem to remember that Reibman's mega bond included a serious chunk of change for bathrooms at the State Theatre."

That was part of it, and it was $300 thousand.

Anonymous said...

can't we just raise taxes on northampton county's wealthy and spread it around? barack has taught me that this stuff is much easier to solve than it seems.

Anonymous said...

McHale and Company will figure it all out at the Saucon Valley Country Club where they are members.
Maybe over some 100 year old Irish whiskey.

Anonymous said...

"" Anonymous said...
can't we just raise taxes on northampton county's wealthy and spread it around? barack has taught me that this stuff is much easier to solve than it seems.""



Just walk down the street and tell someone they have to give you this amount of money and see how "EASY" it is.