We’ll be getting into more of the details about this next week, but the city council on Tuesday night did not follow the proper legal noticing procedures when they granted the supposedly private Magnolia Park Merchants Association a low five-figure sum to keep their regular Friday night affluent-youth festivals going.
Instead, the council members slipped the gift in as part of their overall budget discussions as a staff request under the Community Development Department. Unlike the full discussions given to, say, CDBG requests like BTAC or the Boys and Girls Club, or the local Family Services Agency, there was no item noticing on this special gift to the organization nor was there proper opportunity given to a full discussion or response from the community.
The MPMA gift was instead slipped in as part of a 90-page budget proposal (page 5), right next to a request to buy copies of the state building codes, as if it were a simple matter of office mechanics. But it was an outside grant, not a routine or basic city expenditure. And staff’s also calling the gift “recurring,” which it was not. That was an inducement trick to get it quickly approved as routine under a blanket vote.
Why does this Magnolia Park outfit need the money anyway? The fact that they’ve lost so much membership over the last year or so doesn’t make it more justifiable for the city to help them out because they lack enough dough on their own. If anything, it makes it less. What constituency does this group have now but a few of the salons and boutiques in the farthest reaches of the district?
Our gripe with the MPAA is that they obviously don’t give a damn about the old cottage industry and hobbyist/industrial business that make up the bulk of the neighborhood, and never have. That stuff’s obviously too ancient, ugly, and dorky for them. They’re clearly into “transforming” the area into some ersatz shopping paradise for shabby-genteel Millennials and Yuppies from out of town, and are even going out of their way to boast about this goal as one of their organization’s most explicit.
Who needs that kind of change? The “ladies and gents”? It’s one thing for the council to give them money, but not so quickly or on the sly. It’s not that worthy a goal. Magnolia Park’s for everyone, right?