8/15/2005

Peggy Bourne

I posted recently about Peggy Bourne's willingness to use City Resources to further her and the City's position about the recent loss ($500,000.00 ++) on Explore: The Big Sky.

I have always been torn about this issue. I agree with one of the comments that the City does need to be proactive on these things. I am torn, though, because as President Clinton put it, "mistakes were made," and, frankly, someone needs to be accountable for a half a million dollar loss.

Should Peggy Bourne be fired? John Lawton? For this? No. Absolutely not. But the question is: What will happen on their next eval? Frankly, they should be savaged. Are they screwups? No, but this was a major blunder, and the buck stops somewhere. You don't get to make half million dollar mistakes without consequences in the private sector. Likewise in government.

By the way, I did some basic research about Ms. Bourne's use of City computers to push her point of view. My brief looking at it leads me to believe she's completely legal. But I still don't like it. What do you all think? Read the statute here.

9 comments:

Treasure State Jew said...

I do not agree that "someone" should be held responsible. No one person, or small group of people, pushed through this event without public comment.

The planning for the event was not coordinated by a small cabal in a smoke filled room. The event was planned and organized by hundreds of people throughout the community over the course of years. While the event certainly went over the top, and cost us $500 thousand, the"blame" should fall upon the community as a whole.

If you don't take risks, you cannot have a success. Was it risky to plan such a party? Yes. Were appropriate steps taken to limit our liability as soon as possible? Probably not.

However, you you do not build it, they can not come. I hope that we will yet see long-term dividends for hosting the L&C party.

The truth is that our community has been in an economic tailspit since Anaconda pulled out over a generation ago. If our community is going to survive, we need to figure out a sustainable economy. Showcasing our town can only help make that happen.

GeeGuy said...

So, you are saying that no one person or committee was ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of this event? You ask whether appropriate steps were taken to limit our liability. Fair enough. Who would have been ultimately responsible to decide whether those steps should or shouldn't be taken? Isn't that person "responsible?"

Contrary to the Tribune's scolding, I know of many people who doubted the viability of such a large event. What could/should they have done?

Was the extent of the City's financial support of the event well-publicized beforehand?

I have said again and again that this is a tough issue. We do need to be proactive. But 500k is too much money to just say whoops.

Treasure State Jew said...

As it appears that the City was a primary financial backer of this event, the people who should have been taking steps to limit liability are the people who set policy for our city government (i.e., the City Commission.)

If any blame is to be ascribed, I think it should be limited to the commission, and then only to the steps that were not taken to limit liability in the early Spring, when it should have been obvious that we were not going to have hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Four years ago it was an open question as to whether a 34 day event was too much. Even a year ago, the successes in Virginia and Missouri lent some logic to a substantial event. However, after North Dakota saw a small crowd late last year, and then when bookings by March/April of this year were not meeting expectations, it should have been obvious that we were going over the top.

GeeGuy said...

I appreciate your analysis. I think you can see from the various comments (http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11068216&postID=112373967145312200) that this is a fairly 'hot button' issue.

Treasure State Jew said...

Thank you. I think it should be a hot button issue! After all, it was a half MILLION dollars lost, in the same year that we were forced to close one of our middle schools due to lack of money.

Dona Stebbins said...

When Peggy Bourne came around to the Neighborhood Councils, concern was expressed by more than a few folks that a 34 day event was too long. This input was not taken into consideration when the event was planned. At this time, she also failed to make clear the extent of the City's finacial risk. Had she done so, perhaps there would not be so much negative feedback surrounding the event. I agree that if you don't take a risk every now and then, you won't make a gain, but that's the premise behind the lottery, NOT City government. After all, they aren't playing with their money - they're playing with ours.

Treasure State Jew said...

Dona;

I have heard this before, and am not convinced that it was "not taken into consideration."

Remember, at the time there had just been some very sucessful events around the country. Lots of people were putting in their input.

I would like to know;


1) What was the decision making process behind the scope of the event? Since a proposal had to be submitted to a national organization, who put together the proposal, when was it due, and who made up the committee responsible?

2) When was it decided and by whom that the City bear the financial impact of the event? Where was that discussed?

3) What oversight was exercised by the City Commission? By the City Manager? How often did some sort of executive committee meet to review the planning, scope, bookings, etc.?

Aaron

GeeGuy said...

Call me crazy, Aaron, but wouldn't those seem to be the types of questions a responsible '4th branch of government' would be asking in the face of a $500,000.00 loss, rather than dismissing it in a whitewash?

Treasure State Jew said...

Well, as some of your readers pointed out, they did get a big printing job out of the affair. Are you expecting a Gannett rag to actually be impartial?