Nature Center lease to come to council next month; nothing “of a public nature to share” on Trash Tax

10 Sep

I went to the Internal Affairs meeting at 8am yesterday only to be told that the meeting would be delayed 45 minutes because “the chair can’t make it”. I cooled my heels for 45 minutes until Chair Tami Ritter walked in with wet hair carrying a steaming cup of drive-thru coffee, but I realized my topic would not come up until well after 9:30 and I had to be elsewhere. So I left with questions unanswered – sometimes it’s just more efficient to e-mail staff anyway.

So I did. I asked Assistant City Manager Chris Constantin about the Nature Center lease – this seemed appropriate since staff was introducing a new leasing policy. Constantin  says the new leasing policy needs to be approved by council and then they will tackle the Nature Center lease at some point in “late October, early November.”  Apparently the city has no specific leasing policy, they just negotiate with people on a case by case basis. Badly. Council is smart to start spelling out policy, that’s really how the city got into this mess in the first place. 

I saw several points on the proposed policy that should bring the Nature Center’s possession and use of the buildings in Bidwell Park into question.   Unfortunately, it’s up to Council, a subjective decision based on favoritism. We’ll have to see how they play it. 

The other question I had wanted to ask was not on the agenda for yesterday’s meeting – the garbage franchise, more aptly known as The Trash Tax. I’ve been asking city manager Orme for information, for a public discussion, for a year or so now, and I keep getting the same answer – we’re in negotiations. 

Well, who the hell is “we”?  When will the ratepayers be brought into the negotiations? I’m sorry, I have the feeling we have already been brought into the negotiations – like a piece of meat hung over a dog pit.

So I asked Constantin, sometimes he’ll at least give a hint of what’s going on. But he deferred to Orme, saying, “As for franchising, Mark is taking the lead on this with the consultant, so I don’t have anything of a public nature to share.”

Well there it is. Shake it, don’t break it, wrap it up and I’ll take it.

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