On February 7, your assistant Susan Straub responded to my email request for the list of financial contributors for the Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District Task Force study, along with amounts that each contributor donated. At the time, I was curious—and am still now—about who actually paid for the $350,000 study, and how much each contributor invested, so starting last January I began asking your office for that list of investors.
Mainly, my interest was rooted in good consumerism and rudimentary English 101 skills of authorship and credibility: I wanted to know who is funding the people who say that Rupp and its environs need large amounts of prioritized public capital. But with city and state budgets now in the news, this question has assumed an added journalistic urgency. It has re-entered the news cycle.
At the state level, the Rupp Task Force study was surely used by lawmakers last month in their deliberations over where to direct diminishing public funds. In an austere budget where most state run agencies can expect cuts of 8.4% for the upcoming fiscal calendar—a decision that the Governor himself has cautioned will likely lead to delays in service, loss of federal funds, facility closures, unfilled positions, and possible layoffs—these leaders no doubt relied upon the Task Force’s privately funded work to determine that the Rupp project should receive $2.5 million in public state funds.
Here at the municipal level, the privately funded Rupp Report promises to play a large role in the city’s budget. The state funds now commit Lexington to $1.5 million in additional public money, which will come from the upcoming Fayette Urban County budget. As you formulate Lexington’s budget priorities and run up against a limited amount of city capital, the Task Force document helps prioritize Rupp’s needs over, for example, local agencies like the Explorium of Lexington, Big Brother Big Sister, Moveable Feast, Salvation Army, Baby Health and the Hope Center—which in your previous budget experienced cuts totaling $125,810 (or about 1/10 of the money destined for Rupp in this budget alone).
In her Feb 7 email to my query about the donor list, Straub responded, “You are correct about the list of people who contributed to the task force costs. It wasn’t quite ready for the final report, but we’re close. As discussed in an earlier e-mail, I will give you a list of the individuals, not of the amounts of their contributions. You will have it as soon as it’s complete and it should be soon.”
My apologies for the public format. I hate doing things this way. But after the third or fourth email, one gets tired of all the delays and begins to suspect that you really aren’t interested in circulating this information. When I received no response to my February 17 email follow-up, I resolved that the public might could compel a quicker response from you than Straub. After all, you do claim the mantel of progressive, constituent-friendly, mayor, right?
So I’ll ask again: can you send me the list of Rupp contributors and their specific monetary investments in the Rupp report? I—and who knows, maybe others, too—would like to know who paid for the study that, in this year’s budget cycle alone, has reaped $4 million of public monies–over a 10-1 return on private investment thus far for the under-writers of the Task Force report.
With March Madness over, it is time now to commence with the real world of budgets, and with the spring reality of what happens when some things get overwatered and others wither from want. In this season of rebirth, it is high time to reveal the Rupp rain-makers.
Thanks for your prompt response to something promised over two two months ago,
Fayette Urban County citizen