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.