I am sending a third follow-up to my April 9 letter that requested information regarding those who invested in the Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment Task Force report. As a matter of open government, I asked—and your office agreed—to offer up the list of people who paid for the privately funded report, which by now has been used by both city and state leaders to determine whether the $300+ million Rupp project constitutes good public investment. Eight days and two follow-up emails later, I have yet to receive a response.
I am of course dismayed that my elected mayor is apparently blocking the release of information that will give constituents some basic information regarding a several hundred million dollar project that, if enacted, will largely be funded with our federal, state and local tax dollars. I am more disappointed, however, to realize that I am apparently a second-class Lexington citizen.
Consider, for example, the treatment your office has given Ben Self, another publicly engaged downtown citizen connected to a local first start-up media outlet. As you’ll recall, in March of 2011 when Ben and his on-again, off-again startup blog ProgressLex informed you and area citizens about a plagiarized economic development report submitted to the city by Angelou Economics, your office responded publicly and pointedly within 24 hours. In fact, not only did you respond to Ben and ProgressLex in this time-frame, but you also carried out to the letter his group’s demand that the city exact a return on its $75,000 stake in the $150,000 report.
As a publicly engaged downtown citizen–someone who like Self has committed a great amount of time, energy and household money to write about my city and region–one would expect I’d receive close to the same treatment by my progressive, downtown-loving mayor. One would expect, that is, that I’d be listened to. After all, I am asking much less of you than Ben and ProgressLex. Though I find the Rupp Task Force report fraudulent in all the same important ways as the Angelou Report, unlike Self I am not demanding a refund on services. Nor am I asking you to take a public stance on a project you seem stubbornly committed to. For the past several months, I have been requesting instead that you provide something much easier: the list of people who invested $350,000 in making the Rupp Task Force report a reality, along with the amount each individual invested in the project.
It’s hard not to infer a great divide in political representation. When Ben contacted you as a concerned resident, you responded swiftly and decisively. By now, after I have waited between 2 weeks and 12 months (take your pick) for you to make good on your promise to make the Rupp donor list public, I’ve learned my pecking order in this city: well behind citizen Ben Self and his media board at ProgressLex. It’s enough to discourage public civic involvement in my community. And it’s your fault.
But hey, let’s let bygones be bygones. A new spring is emerging, so I’ll give you a second chance. It took your administration less than 24 hours to respond to Self, both publicly and privately, and to make the strong political move of questioning the Angelou report. I’m not asking you to to do anything bold like that. I’ll be happy to receive a private email, with investors and amounts attached as a word or excel doc, by say, sundown Thursday ( April 19).
You don’t even need to send me warm regards, though of course I’m sure you do that for first class citizens. It is, after all, just a nice thing that mayors normally do for the right people, right Jim? To make the right citizens with the right viewpoints feel represented, spoken for, acknowledged.
Fayette Urban County resident