Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mayor leans on commenter

Cindy's story today describes official fallout from last week's story on the old Antelope Hills clubhouse boondoggle and comments thereto. Specifically, PAAHC Exec Director Deb Thurston commented critically, and the Mayor summoned her to a meeting with him, Councilman Lamerson and the new tourism director to 'splain things to her.

During nine years as a director and chairman of PCAC Inc., a City-funded nonprofit, I carefully kept my mouth shut about most of the corruption and incompetence I dealt with almost daily in City Hall to protect the organization. I also did a three-year term on the PAAHC board, which has taken more than its share of abuse by Council over the years, and I have some familiarity with the terrain here.

So I fully understand Thurston's frustration over the issue as she watches arts funding diminish, and I admire her pluck in standing up to publicly call the City on its decisions. I'm sure many readers will find it appalling that the Council and City staff think they can push people around in this way, but be assured that this goes on in more subtle ways all the time. There's a culture of entitlement and authoritarianism in City Hall that runs deep, and even Sam Steiger couldn't crack it. With the exception of Councilwoman Lopas, the current Council members are all enthusiastic participants in that culture.

While there may be backlash against her organization, which Council has been steadily starving out for years anyway, this treatment by the Mayor confirms that speaking out publicly and, most important, using your real name in comments can have strong effect on public issues in Prescott.

So thumbs up to Deb Thurston, but don't let her stand alone in the heat. Keep up the pressure, and keep commenting.