Fayette Urban County, Kentucky (December 4, 2012) – North of CenterEditor Danny Mayer today announced that he is soliciting nominations for a People’s Commission on the Rich. The commission will be tasked with examining the issues and concerns of the most fortunate of Fayette Urban County (FUC) residents and recommend needed changes to city council.
Mayer is forming the commission because of a number of recent reports related to the rich and wealthy, including concerns raised about greedy developers, the impact of rich people on public access to the commons, overbuilding at the Kentucky Horse Park, and the excessive commitments of public capital to expensive leisure pursuits.
“Our community has a long record of reaching out to help those who need lots of money. We can be proud of many of those efforts, including the Kentucky Horse Park and Rupp Arena,” Mayer said. “But we also have ongoing challenges. This is a complex issue. It’s clear we need to step back and take stock … to examine long-term challenges and outstanding needs.”
This year alone, the city will dedicate over 60% of its lending capacity in the federal low-income “Section 108” program in order to attract a downtown boutique hotel. Additionally, the city has contributed over $20 million to the purchase of rural property development rights, which often directly benefit Fayette Urban County’s higher income agricultural and horse farm owners. In the current Mayor’s budget, the county will pay $1.25 million to begin preparations on a Rupp Arena renovation (down payment on a $500 million-$1 billion redevelopment of the area into an “arts and entertainment zone”) that will primarily create amenities beneficial to the more- and most fortunate.
In addition to evaluating the economic stress the rich place on the county, the Commission will also examine the cronyism that plagues many rich FUCer communities. “Several issues have arisen lately that suggest we should get our best problem-solvers around the table and come up with new ideas to make sure we’re doing our best for all of our citizens,” Mayer said. “We must ask the question, Is that goal possible with the concentrated wealth and cronyism we have in this county?”
To that end, the commission will examine the long-term debts and infrastructure improvements necessary to house and entertain those who are rich, and it will analyze how these costs get passed onto the community at-large.
There is an urgency, Mayer declared, but also a need for broad perspectives.
“Horse FUCers, coal FUCers, the Religious Rich, the 4%ers, the creatively rich. These are just some of the many categories of rich that exist here in Fayette Urban County—and this doesn’t even touch the large body of social science the Commission might wish to consider: psychoses and traumas, business knowledge and habits, hierarchies, environmental and democratic impacts, drug use,” Mayer observed. “The avenues of inquiryare as limitless as their debt capacity. There is much serious work to be done.”
Mayer wants to hear from more than just the advocates for the very wealthy. “People with no homes, workers at non-profits and adjuncts teaching at schools who have seen their funding slashed,” he said in describing the demographics of potential commission-members. “Public sanitation and safety workers, veterans groups, disc golf players, concerned working class laborers, unemployed artists, tenured faculty members, immigrants of all documents—even the rich are encouraged to apply.”
Anyone interested in serving on Mayer’s People’s Commission on the Rich should contact Danny Mayer’s place by snail mail, c/o North of Center, 430 N. MLK, Lexington, KY, 40508, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enclose a 1-2 paragraph description of your interest, general availability and qualifications (if any). Preference given to snail mail applications. Deadline to express interest is January 25.