Thank You Lone Ranger

This is the updated version of my post from this afternoon. After the first comment, I realized that the Tribune's analysis that bothered me could be taken various ways. The story regards the malting plant railroad spur.

The facts go like this:

1. The malt plant needed rail service.
2. The community promised to provide the spur line for rail service.
3. The community could not make good on its promise, so the malt plant owners had to pay $4 million to get the spur.

What bothered me was the conclusion from the Trib, "The city of Great Falls came to the rescue and promised to buy the rail line once it acquired the money." I was looking at this from the point of view of the malting plant owners. They had been duped. By Mr. Lawton's own admissions, they would not have settled here without the rail spur incentive. I am incredulous that the Trib could have meant that the City "rescued" the malting plant.

But the commenter pointed out that the Great Falls Development Authority made the false promise. A promise its, well, bank account, could not cash. In retrospect, I see that the Trib could have meant that the commission rescued the GFDA. A meaningless distinction to a business owner out $4 million. From his point of view, the City promised again, to make good on the original promise, on which it previously reneged? Does not compute.

Viewed that way, it was trivial hyperbole meant to guild the local government's image when it most needs help. I consider that irresponsible from a "news" story.

But what if we take the line a different way? What if the city is rescuing the GFDA, one of those quasi governmental, pseudo business organizations that recklessly spends money it does not have? The journalism is no better, but the import is even greater. Especially with the coal plant mess growing.

The City is digging up $4 million from local tax payers. To cover GFDA or itself. Either way, it is a jump first, look later mentality (maybe they should have looked at the feasibility of getting that $4 million before promising it). It is totally reckless. Getting back to the original story, it implies the city just found some extra money. No, it found a way to divert more tax dollars to a bail out. It is still money taken from local people and businesses.

This is no way to run a railroad. Not even a spur.


Anonymous said...

The GFDA made the original promise. The city then promised to buy the spur to make up for the oversight, I believe.

free thought said...

True, the GFDA is not exactly the same as the city government, but inter-related. The Commission went forward with the plans, in concert with the GFDA, to start the malting plant. It was the city backing the promise, among other things, responsible for getting the plant here. I see them as complicit in the original promise

Anonymous said...

Related, but the GFDA is a separate entity. Not saying the city didn't make a promise it couldn't keep, just saying they did so only once...