14 July 2008

Touchy Feely City Hall is at it Again

No one loves to mock the bizarre civic dysfunction that is the City of Minneapolis more than me but I'm essentially speechless over this one:

(Minneapolis) plans to unveil concepts for 10 artist-designed drinking fountains that (Mayor R.T.) Rybak championed at $50,000 each. Typical park fountains cost as little as $6,000. Rybak described his proposal as an out-of-the-box method for promoting flagging city water consumption, both for nostalgic reasons and hard-headed water financial imperatives.
I, on the other hand, have nostalgic longings for a city that isn't awash with violent crime and whack-job politicians.

The city is also awarding a $180,000 contract for a marketing campaign on behalf of city water, to be paid from water bills. And it has hired a consultant for almost $50,000 to develop a strategy for approaching suburbs about using more city water. The City Council eventually gave unanimous approval to the $500,000 fountain plan to be paid half from water bills and half from property taxes.
So if I lived in Minneapolis, I'd be paying extra to have some advertising agency flunkie eat shrimp cocktail while allegedly convincing other cities to use the water that's supposed to be for me. I wonder if next they will charge residents more to send the fire trucks to other cities, too.

Lisa McDonald, a former council member who ran against Rybak and is no foe of the arts, is among those critical of the fountain plan. "When you're in a situation the city is in, which is underfunded public safety and street repairs, then I question why we're doing that," she said. She's skeptical that drinking fountains will stimulate demand: "If you want people to buy water, you price it accordingly."
Here's the ugly part of the spin - this isn't merely the clown mayor paying nearly 10 times the going rate for something as utilitarian and basic as a drinking fountain, in this instance, he's pissing away tax money a thinly-veiled pander to the ever-begging arts crowd.

But Mary Altman said that the investment has to be considered as part of the city's public arts program, which she runs. Each year, a small percentage of the city's property tax-supported bonding program is devoted to public artwork. That's paid for such projects as artist-designed manhole covers and bus benches, and larger neighborhood-inspired gateways.
"Stop the car! We've got to get out and admire the manhole cover! Hey kids, just think; some poor folks only have plain old manhole covers in their towns. Isn't that sad?"

Also, why am I not surprised that the city's public arts program manger is delighted to have the fees citizens pay for water diverted to her bucket? Tuth is, you can dupe the average Mpls taxpayer into anything if you claim it's being done "for the arts."
The city picked . . . a private party willing to perform daily cleaning and annual daining and recharging of water lines. The latter requirement relieved council members aware that most of the irrigation systems that city has installed at selected boulevards and medians have gone dry as key parts break because of a crunch in operating money at the Public Works Department.
What will this private party charge the city for doing the city's work? Who knows, but know this: The city can't find the money to perform maintenance on its own drinking fountains, but they're still planing to pay nearly ten times the going rate for -artsy-fartsy water fountains and then spend at least $230,000 more to trick other municipalities to use Minneapolis water. What else do you need to know about how diseased Minneapolis is these days?
Rybak said he wants bubbling, gurgling fountains reminiscent of the kind he drank from as a kid growing up in the city. "I want that romance of water in a city of waters to be something that's just core to living in our city," he said.
Yea, and some folks want all the cops finally hired that Rybak promised two elections ago. How's that for use of city money? You know, if the mayor can't sleep at night because public water fountains don't match his childhood ideal (the very theme of civic dysfunction over there) then maybe he should take advantage of the modern advances in psychiatric medicine and not take advantage of the home owners in the city he portends to represent.

I don't ever want to hear this crackpot whine about alleged cuts of state aid to the city of Minneapolis ever again.

Ever again.

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