Whereas Councilpersons Bob Jaffe & Co. get slammed for some good old common sense

by jhwygirl

Yesterday, Ward 2’s Bob Jaffe posted an open letter on the MissoulaGov listserv (created by Jaffe) which outlined his concerns regarding the proposed $60,000,000 Performing Arts Center.

Overall, he expressed concerns on a number of levels – the limited amount of public money available; the recent failure of the $10,000,000 school bond coupled with the need for a $20,000,000 bond for the proposed arts facility; and the inability of other similar arts facilities to maintain affordability despite being able to increase attendance and revenue.

He also called into question the overall ability of the arts community to be able to fund the project when they weren’t/aren’t able to support the art museum’s shortage on last season’s heating bill.

The City had to kick in $100,000 to pay that bill.

He also cited other examples of the city having to bail out these types of ventures – naming specifically Swim Missoula and the stadium bail out.

(I may have a new hero!)

Jaffe’s initial post garnered only support – former city administrator Janet Donahue comment summed up well the voice of all of the initial posts.

Bob, as much as I love the cultural aspects of Missoula and have participated musically on many levels, I don’t believe the city and I can afford to foot the bill.
I believe we would have to subsidize the Performing Arts Center which will take resources from many basic needs facing Missoula, such as bike/ped/auto infrastructure, police facilities, fire stations, equipment needs, and parks development to name a few.

Then late (11:12 p.m) last night, Geoff Badenoch, former head of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and previous candidate for Mayor, posted comments from the Performing Arts Committee – citing

I was contacted by the Committee of Missoulians working on the performing arts center project. Since they are not members of the list serve, they asked me to submit the following comments on their behalf. These comments were put together in haste due to the late hour and because they felt at a disadvantage in not being involved in this exchange of information from the outset.

(Like the listserve is some sort of exclusive group.)

What followed were two replies to the listserv, by Badenoch, filled with a collection sniping remarks disputing the numbers put forth by Jaffe – who apparently had done quite a bit of homework, contacting other communities to gather information – and citations of recent concert attendance at the Rolling Stones and Elton John events as illustrating a need for another arts facility.

(It’d be worth it to point out that Badenoch’s posts, garnered from comments he gathered, appeared to be cut-and-paste — so apparently, these comments were gathered by email, further shredding the cries of the critics who felt “at a disadvantage of not being involved in this exchange of information from the outset.”)

Talk about apples to oranges – just because some concerts sell-out at the Adam’s Center doesn’t mean that we need another facility. It’s not like the Adam’s Center is holding concerts every night and turning away venues.

Today, the 12-member Administration & Finance Committee dealt the proposed arts facility its death blow – voting 9-3 against holding on to the riverfront triangle property for an additional 18 months while the PAC attempted to gather its magical sugar daddy (or mama) that would ‘spark’ the project with a check for $15,000,000 to $20,000,000.

That’s a whole lot of zeroes.

Bob Jaffe and the 8 others who used some good old common sense and fiscal responsibility to the City of Missoula should be lauded for their brave stance. It’s not easy to say “No” – I think it needs to be done more often – and it definitely needed to be done in this case.

Let’s hope that the PAC’s sour grapes aren’t so sour that they they call on the end to the listserv. If they do it’ll be shame on them.

(In full disclosure, I have not been a fan of the arts center. I have previously posted this at Montana Netroots.)

  1. I think I’ll spam that link…if you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I’ve already spammed it…

    Oh yeah…I really like what Garth had to say, and was much amused by the response it got on listserv…maybe I’ll post it later…


  2. Jim Lang

    I always thought the PAC was redundant and too costly.

    Kudos to the The Administration and Finance Committee for making the right choice on this one.

    So now what to do with the Riverfront Triangle? I’ll have to stop by and take another look…

  3. JC

    I wonder if anyone else has thought about how the way Jaffe used his private listserve to inject comments into the public record and influence Council decisions might be a violation of open meeting laws? I expect we may be hearing from folks about this soon. Email-gate at the City Council take two.

  4. “Private” listserve? He’s got a “private” listserv? Dang, I’m just subscribed to the public one…

  5. JC

    Private as in privately owned. He runs the listserve from his own business. The listserve is not public in the sense that it is run by the City of Missoula, and subject to the daylight of open meeting laws. When Jaffe decided to take the comments from his privately owned, special interest listserve, and injected them into the public record, he crossed the line.

  6. JC – that listserv is out there in the public realm – for anyone to read. Jaffe uses his city email address – and he is entering the stuff on the PAC discussion into public record. He’s even said so.

    It’s more open than that “daylight of open meeting laws” and I don’t think you know what in the hell you are talking about. No FOI needed for the listserve, buddy.

    It can’t be more open government that that.

    Would you rather he just discuss this with whomever he happens to discuss this with? Not me. I am – the whole city is – at a much greater advantage for openness in government for this listserv having been created.

    Take your sour grapes and go make some whine.

  7. “Special interest” listserv? Boy, you folks are getting out of hand. If open and free to the public is “special interest” — hoo boy! I don’t want any part of what you’re drinkin’.

    BTW, anybody and everybody is able to subscribe. Anybody and everybody is able to respond. Any and every council member could use it to talk with constituents.

    Open discussion = good.

    Trying to shut down discussion because you don’t like what your neighbors think = bad.

  1. 1 Bob - Say it isn’t so! Please! « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Whereas Councilpersons Bob Jaffee & Co. get slammed for some good old common sense […]

  2. 2 Tomorrow night’s City Council meeting « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] that discussion upon the Performing Arts Center request for an 18 month extension on the parking lot at the old Fox Theater site. 18 months. What does 18 months get us? Another […]

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