City Resources

Peggy Bourne, the City Clerk, was deeply involved in the Lewis and Clark fiasco that lost at least $535,000.00 of taxpayer money. Is it appropriate for her to send this email out on City (taxpayer paid) property:

Good morning everyone --
As you may have expected, the Tribune is beginning to receive many negative
letters regarding the deficit for Explore! The Big Sky. I don't want all our
hard work over the last few years and the positive outcomes (although
financially in the red) to be overcome by the negativity that can sometimes take
over these things. I would appreciate it if you could write a letter to the
editor that continues to point out the positive points of this
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We need to get the letters to the editor
quickly. I appreciate anything you can do to help.

Second question: How does she know that the Tribune is receiving negative letters? Is our "watchdog" tipping her off? And why are they not printing those letters??? (You know what's interesting? In the recent letters to the editor supporting Bourne and the rest, several comment about 'all the negative letters.' Yet my unofficial count is that the Tribune has printed only one or two so far.)


Treasure State Jew said...

I don't know that there is really a problem here. Part of Peggy's job as the director of the Lewis and Clark party was to coordinate marketing. The email you reference could very easily be interpreted as marketing.

If blame is to be assigned over the half million we lost in putting on this event, I don't think it should be on Peggy's shoulders. She was asked to take on this project by the City, and she did. (Disclosure: I helped organize one of the events. If anything, that gave me an appreciation for Peggy's hard work and integrity.)

Personally, I think hosting the event was a risk worth taking. However, hindsight makes it obvious that the event should have been significantly scaled down back in April/May when it became clear that we were not going to have the hundreds of thousand of visitors originally forecast.

Anonymous said...

The onus should clearly be on John Lawton and the City Commissioners who should have been overseeing this process so that spending did not get out of hand. Clearly, that did not happen.
There is no doubt that Peggy worked very hard on the event. There is also no doubt that while it was in the presentation process, many people expressed concern that a 34 day event was too long.
A full accounting of where the money went is long overdue, and people are waiting. We can't rely on the Tribune for a complete story - they profited from printing the EBS guidebook ( a very nice, slick, glossy piece of work that didn't come cheaply) and they profit daily from City funded printing of public notices and the printing of "City News."
It would be most interesting to know exactly how much the Tribune was into the City pocket on a monthly basis.

Anonymous said...

This is hardly the worst abuse of public employment in the recent history of Great Falls local politics.

I'd say that spot is reserved for Shelley Fagenstrom, PGMS's former principal and now EMS's. She sent out a (vicious) e-mail asking teachers to write letters in support of Mick Taleff and Elna Hensley, who were later defeated in a landslide school election. (The e-mail also specifically urged the defeat of another candidate to the Board.) She also made PA announcements asking teachers, aides, everyone to come down to the main office to sign an "endorsement sheet" that Taleff was intending (before he and Shelley got caught) to publish as an advertisement -- the kind that lists the names of supporers -- in the Tribune. A couple teachers, who called The Trib on condition of anonymity, even said that Fagenstrom had left them additional, more threatening notes in their mailbox when they didn't sign the pre-written letter to the editor and endorsement ad.

I'm just relaying this story because it seems there's a general ignorance (perhaps a wilful one) about what role public employees can/should play in the political arena. But at least Peggy Bourne isn't advocating specific support or defeat of a candidate for city commission, as Shelley Fagenstrom unambiguously did.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the Great Falls Tribune leadership is mostly silent on the Pro letter writing campaign for the Lewis and Clark debactle. They should also check out the fact that public school employees are always being "urged" through official Gov't e-mail and with flyers in the school distribution boxes to vote for democrats in elections. You can't place a campaign sign on school property, but the leadership allows Pro-Democrat flyers to be placed inside the schools in their mailboxes by the union and principals. This is a fact as my spouse works in the district.

Anonymous said...

The Tribune has taken their stand on the EBS debacle, declaring it a "success" for the community. If they had a decent investigative reporter (and no agenda) the news would be very different.
Oh well, at least while that event was taking place, no one at the Tribune actually had to go out and dig for news - it was all fed to them by the City. What a nice summer vacation for the hardworking news staff...