Wednesday, July 03, 2013
NorCo Council Puts Brakes on $500,000 SkatePlaze Grant
Council members Lamont McClure and Tom Dietrich were absent.
As it developed, nobody in Bethlehem had even asked for this money. Mayor John Callahan told Cusick that the City is currently doing a feasibility study for a convention center, and the money might be better spent for something like that,down the road.
Disgusted, Peg Ferraro reminded Council members they have an obligation to fund ArtsQuest and PBS first. "We made a commitment and we're going back on our word," she argued.
While pretending to have no interest in this policy decision, Controller Steve Barron took advantage of this proposed grant to cast aspersions at ArtsQuests' Executive Director Jeff Parks. Like he did last year. Apparently, Parks had told Council, in a letter, that he and PBS are relying on that money to honor commitments, and noted that the revenue is either flat or waning.
Not true, claimed Barron, who claimed hotel tax revenues have increased from $1.2 million in 2008 to $1.9 million last year.
But Council member Brice Gilbert pointed out that these increases have been more than offset by overhead, leading to an actual decline in "purchasing power." Barron began to quarrel, demonstrating that he really was injecting himself into a policy consideration after all. Then he remembered and shut up.
About this time last year, Barron was trashing ArtsQuest and Parks over the exempt status of two properties, claiming to be an expert who would give assessors an "independent" opinion. You see, Barron knows lots of people are jealous of Parks' salary or have some pet peeve with Musikfest. Von Footinmouth hopes that an appeal to our worst instincts will translate into votes for him.
But they won't. As an artsy fartsy, Parks is an alien in what is essentially still a blue collar community whose idea of culture is a night at the Carmike with caramel popcorn. So that makes him an easy target for a bottom-feeding bloggers like me. And I have picked on him from time to time because I appeal to your worst instincts, too. It's what I do.
But people like Jeff Parks appeal to our better selves. His vision has led to SteelStack, with hundreds of free concerts each year. It has led to kids' programming like the Ps and Qs program at SteelStacks. When he steps down soon, he will be missed.
The only persons who will miss Barron von Footinmouth are public sector union bosses.