At the November meeting of the Urban Renewal board, we see there was a fairly good dustup over the Tabares thing. Oh, there were no fisticuffs or screaming hissy fits, but it was a bit tense. We can get a sense of this from the minutes:
Mack Burtis: It would have been nice if we would have known something about what is going on so if anybody might ask me directly about the use of the building I can tell them.
Rebecca Goodwin: We are meeting with different groups to see what might work for them; how would they use the building; what they would have to have in there; how it would be financed; and what would be the cash flow.
Mack Burtis: My only question is I would like to be kept informed about these kinds of things instead of finding out about it at these meetings.
Rebecca Goodwin: This is a working group.
Mack Burtis: I didn’t know the working group existed. The #1 criteria people I have talked to is they asked what are you going to use it for.
Rebecca Goodwin: That is what we are exploring.
Mack Burtis: Could we explore more in public rather than a group behind closed doors. I didn’t know it was going on.
Rebecca Goodwin: We talked about at last meeting about reaching out to other groups.
Jeff Reeder: Who is on the committee?
Chairman Horner: Rick, Bill, Rebecca and me.
Rebecca Goodwin: We invited Ron Davis and Velma Simpson expressed interest. We asked other people of different backgrounds.
Jeff Reeder: I am with Mack on this. We didn’t talk about it.
Don Rizzuto: It wasn’t in the minutes that a working group was approved by the Board. As a whole if you have a working group the Sunshine Law applies to all groups. This is a violation of the Sunshine Law. Where was the discussion? It doesn’t show in the minutes. It is not that I don’t want to have the working group. I am saying that the working group was formed secretly behind closed doors. How was this group created without the approval of the Urban Renewal Authority? This would not be allowed by City Council. It is wrong at any level. It should never have been done. It is inappropriate. It should be voted on by Urban Renewal since it is an arm of the Urban Renewal Authority.
Rebecca Goodwin: When we did the sign and sidewalk stamp it was done this way. (Note from BloggerCentral: I was at that meeting, and I sure don't remember it being done that way. BICBW.)
Bill Jackson: According to Roberts Rules of Order this Board would have to appoint those members of the committee.
Chairman Horner: Ok. If we are at that point.
MOTION: Rebecca Goodwin made a motion that a group be formed to work on the feasibility study or a committee as a working group for the Plaza Building made up of members of the Urban Renewal Board and other community members that can assist with various areas of the feasibility study. Nancy Bennett seconded the motion.
Roger Roath: Do we need names of the people on the committee?
Jeff Reeder: The Board has to vote on each one of them.
You see what happened here. The proponents of the 'renovation' of the Tabares building, the project that will cost the taxpayers at least $1.3 million were pretty much stacking the deck. They came up with this 'working committee' made up of members - Horner and Goodwin - who have heretofore made no bones about their willingness to pour huge amounts of tax money into the Tabares project. And, they selected like-minded 'community members' such as Velma Simpson. Klein and Jackson are staff support, and are not voting members.
So where are the minutes of this working group's meetings? As Mayor Rizzuto somewhat testily notes, the Sunshine Law applies to the working group's formation by the Urban Renewal Board. The Sunshine law applies to local bodies where "... Three or more members of the body (or two members if two constitutes a quorum) conducting business are subject to this law." After the official formation (as opposed to the 'secret group' to which Rizzuto, Reeder, and Burtis objected) at the November meeting, three or more were on that working group. So ... are there minutes available for public inspection?
And another thing ... reading the article in the Tribune-Democrat about this month's Urban Renewal meeting, we see a couple of 'prominent Republicans' sounding curiously like a mix of Barack H. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and John Maynard Keynes - that would be Otero Republican committee vice-chair Ed Hunnicutt and erstwhile Republican county commissioner candidate Lorraine Melgosa, as they supported sucking the tax dollars out of the state and local revenues for this 'renewal' project.
A casual glance of the Denver Post and other sources shows us that the state is having some real budgetary 'issues'. The state has a debt of $78,514,721 ... yet we are increasing spending next year, and for this year's budget, we had this:
Henry Sobanet, budget director, said on Sept. 20, 2011, that the state would face a structural imbalance of $400 million to $500 million in the 2012-13 budget. Sobanet's office said a historic recession combined with higher demand for state services has created the structural gap. An 11.1 percent increase in Medicaid costs and a 3.7 percent jump in prison expenditures also contributed to the budget gap.
Not impressed? Too far upstate to matter? Well then, try this one:
Funding programs in the face of budget cuts
So why is the state handing out piles of free money, taken from We the People, to pour into a garbage pit like the Tabares building, when there isn't enough money to provide real services to real people? Sal Pace would tell us that it's from different 'funding streams' you see; to which I would reply, "No, I don't see. Like all streams and rivers, there's a headwater. In the case of 'funding streams', the headwater is my wallet - and yours."
That's what our Republican 'leadership' (and I use the word 'leadership' very loosely) should be telling these tax and spenders on the Urban Renewal board. The smell of free money sure does funny things to those staunch Tea Party/Republican principles, doesn't it? Is that a toilet we hear flushing?
And where were those 'community leaders' who are against the project? There is little mention of them in the article in the Tribune-Democrat. Were they there? Did they speak out? If not, why not? Or were they simply ignored or downplayed by the T-D? Is this just another free ad pimping the project, on the part of the T-D?
Off on a tangent, and related to that Paceian thing about funding streams, as well as the smoke and mirrors involved with giving away tax revenues as free money:
A FASTER End Run