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Skewed priorities?

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Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009 10:00 pm

At last week's city council meeting, the council approved grants for the arts of $42,500.

Twelve grants were awarded, ranging from $850 for the Lodi Community Band and "Tiger Pause," a publication of Tokay High School student writings, to $8,500 for Red Circle, a Native American cultural group, for a powwow at a yet-to-be-determined location on a yet-to-be-determined date. No, I cannot make this stuff up.

Now before I go any further, I want it well on the record that I don't think we should be spending our money this way; not because I think it is bad to spend on the arts, but rather because Lodi is hurting financially, and $42,500 could be spent in a better way.

When the city's budget was presented to the budget and finance committee, of which I am a member, it was explained to us that this $42,500 is used to promote art and culture events, and to provide scholarships for those who want to participate but cannot because of their finances. When this explanation was given, I asked how much money does the Recreation Commission get to promote recreation activities, and to provide scholarships to kids and adults who cannot afford to pay?

The answer was $0. Nothing. Not a dollar or a dime, yet our city council can give $42,500 to the Arts Commission to toss about as they would like.

If you think this is odd, it isn't. In the last budget, the Arts Commission got $50,000 and the Recreation Commission got $0.

One of the arguments for providing grants for the arts is scholarships. Fine, but what about scholarships for recreation?

Aside from the Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports (the "BOBS"), which serve only a portion of Lodi's programs, there are no scholarships at Parks and Recreation. Last year, about 3,000 kids were in non-BOBS programs. How many more could have played if scholarships were available? What did the kids who couldn't pay to play do with their time?

The other argument for having the grants for the arts is that the cultural events bring people to Lodi and they spend money here. For certain events, I will not argue that, but can't the same be said for a recreation event? If Lodi sponsored a (fill in your sport) tournament over a weekend, it would bring hundreds to town, along with their money.

By all accounts, the recent cycling event was a huge success. The people who coordinated the event and those who participated in it were happy. What was the city of Lodi's contribution to the event aside from some staff time? Nothing. The city of Lodi added nothing to the sponsorship or promotion, and did nothing to actually bring the event to town.

Will the cycling event come back to Lodi? I hope so, but nothing is certain, because the event was sponsored and coordinated by volunteers, and over time, volunteers and sponsors lose enthusiasm.

Wouldn't the event have a better chance of long-term success if one of the sponsors was the Lodi Recreation Commission? I think so.

Other communities have sports commissions that do just that - promote and coordinate sporting events - because those communities know that these events bring people and money to the community.

Somehow, our City Council has forgotten that recreation needs support. Our City Council needs to recognize that recreation gives kids something to do, and that recreation events bring in dollars. Our City Council needs to make an investment in recreation promotion and scholarship that is greater than $0, and a good place to start is with some of the money that goes to the arts.

John Johnson, CFA, is a Lodi-based business appraiser. Contact him at john@johnejohnson.com or 369-1451.

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Welcome to the discussion.

7 comments:

  • posted at 3:56 am on Fri, Jul 24, 2009.

    Posts:

    yeah you,Sounds like you have attended the Bob Johnson "charm school". The fact is, our current cc has some members that vote on their pet projects without regard to what's best for the city.

     
  • posted at 4:08 pm on Mon, Jul 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    Hey, John, enough already. We get it. The council screws up everything and you're smarter than everyone else combined. I know you'll save us all when you get elected next year.

     
  • posted at 9:24 am on Mon, Jul 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    People who want art should pool their money and promote it. Same with the awful Nat'l Endowment for the Arts. A steroid version of Lodi's wasted money. Most services have fees associated with them. You want it you pay it.

     
  • posted at 5:42 am on Mon, Jul 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    I have said this before. Art is a luxury. During these times a person would never be spending money on art nor should the govenment. Just goes to show how out of touch public officials can be.

     
  • posted at 5:18 am on Mon, Jul 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    John Said; "When the city's budget was presented to the budget and finance committee, of which I am a member".John also said; "Our City Council needs to make an investment in recreation promotion"Am I the only one that sees a problem with this "Pass the Buck" pair of statements? What is the purpose of the Finance Committee? John are you related to someone in the City Government? Are you and your "members" toothless or gutless?

     
  • posted at 3:56 am on Mon, Jul 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    John As rich as the Indians are could they not have provided that money? That piddling amount wounldn't even equal one tribe members monthly stipend for some of the tribes.You ask why the Lodi CC does this it's simple, because they can. It's other peoples money what do they care. It would be interesting to know how many citizens can't pay their city bills this month. But they can be happy knowing they've helped the arts. Shame on you CC.

     
  • posted at 2:30 am on Mon, Jul 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    Not a fan for scholarships for arts or sports unless we are trying to manage a billion dollar surplus. The city could use that $42,500 for more important issues, i.e., to help low income people with housing, or provide additional OT for cops to fight crime, or fix some of the streets and sidewalks around town.Because the CC voted for this expenditure, then the CC must have felt it to be important. Gotta wonder what else got approved in that budget?

     

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