Apr 172012

Dear Jim,

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.

Danny Mayer

Fayette Urban County resident

Mar 072012

By Ellen Deatrick

The Undressing Normal: (Un)conference on Sexuality for Those of Us DisLabeled took place February 10 at the Clarion Hotel in Lexington. Roughly 70 people attended—a diverse group sharing at least one purpose: they wanted to talk. Or should I say “we,” since I was one of the attendees, eager to engage.

In preparing to cover this event, I had someone ask me: “So is this going to be like an unarticle?” I thought about how an “unarticle” would look. One of the guiding principles of an unconference is: “whatever happens is the only thing that could have.” I like it. Yes, this will be an unarticle.

Six months ago, a steering committee met—that is, what became a committee. Then, it was simply a concerned group of Kentuckians. Latitude Artist Community led the synergy, sparked by the summer incident in Hazard County and looking to extend discussion on issues surrounding sexuality, disability, and gender identity. Back in June, two gay men with intellectual disabilities were forced from a Hazard community pool for what some deemed excessive displays of affection. While all parties involved appropriately resolved the situation, the events highlighted how few resources are available for educating disability caregivers on sexual matters, notably on LGBT support.  Co-owner of Latitude Bruce Burris flatly stated: “Since we’re accepting the idea—finally—that sexuality is, most people would agree, a normal part of life, it is about time that we should start talking about this.” Continue reading »

Apr 132011

The educational-municipal complex

By Danny Mayer

Editor’s Note: This should be the first in a three-part look at Town/Gown economic relationships

“[H]ow people react when something is publicly staring them in the face is one thing. How they react in the much more common situation where the gloom of obscurity hides the unpleasant facts is another.”

Lexington Herald Leader, “Cut-and-paste lessons,” March 15, 2011

Angelou Economics is one of a relatively new breed of business, urban economic development consultants, that has arisen over the past 20 years. Mostly, such groups adhere to a set of assumptions most popularly espoused by the academic Richard Florida. Florida’s general thesis holds that creativity drives growth. Because of this, Florida concludes, city survival depends upon attracting the somewhat limited global class of creative people who make cities grow—real selective consumers who, alas, apparently circulate the world looking diligently for cool places in which to live and/or visit. Continue reading »

Jun 092010

Mighty Wurlitzer also a part of KY Theatre experience

After reading Colleen Glenn’s informative article (“Kentucky Theatre Summer Classic Movies Series returns May 26,” May 19) about nearly all aspects of the 2010 Kentucky Theatre’s Summer Series—including the anticipation of the series, assemblage of the movies, people involved, Flash Gordon Series, and a synopsis of each feature film—were covered. However, there was no mention of one very essential item which is experienced before each matinee and evening feature picture, and has been a part of the Classic Series Film Series since 2001!

Kentucky’s Mighty Wurlitzer-Theatre Organ Project, Inc continues each Series with pre-show mini-concerts on the 2-Manual Conn Theatre Organ (a 1959 tube model), which recreates the movie patron’s experience of the “Golden Age of the movie palace,and at no cost to the Kentucky Theatre Group, Inc or movie patrons. Continue reading »

May 202010

CVS, ProgressLex and building a dignified city center

By Andrew Battista

“Progress” has always been a slippery concept. It’s difficult to critique an organization that collectively pursues “progress,” just like it’s unpopular to poke holes in a community that wants to valorize its own creativity as a linchpin of social improvement. It’s harder still to define what counts as progressive, especially when what’s at stake with the progress debate is actually the ability of the community in question to enjoy the amenities that most people in Lexington would deem essential.

Recently, a group of well-intentioned public activists have formed ProgressLex, a nonprofit dedicated to social justice and “smart and sustainable economic development” in downtown Lexington. Thus far, ProgressLex has mastered several bailiwicks: the architectural aesthetics of certain downtown buildings, the traffic flow of Lexington’s downtown thoroughfares, and the brand development of Lexington as an epicenter of brainpower and social industry. Continue reading »