To the editor: City silent on Embassy grant questions

On July Fourth it is important that we remember our rights as well as our responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.

While we may not be fighting in a revolution, we have to continue to safeguard our freedoms the best we can. One way we can exert influence over our government is to keep informed.

On June 9, 2008 at the public hearing on the Embassy Foundation Community Revitalization Grant application questions were presented in writing to the council concerning the city’s participation in building a performing arts center. The questions brought complaints and sought information. Each applicant for a grant is required to provide timely written answers to complaints. This request was made on June 9, 2008, to the council and they also asked to provide written answers to the press. It is now July 4, 2008, and the manager, acting assistant manager, mayor and city attorney have been reminded once again to please comply and provide written answers; or, for them to at least say when the answers will be forth coming. Whether it is budget time, holiday time, moving time, or any time, it is essential that this request not be ignored as these answers need to be made public well in advance of the second public hearing.

Home In Henderson and The Dispatch previously provided electronic copies of the questions to the public. The questions sought very important information about the city’s involvement in moving forward with building a performance hall. One question asked that the city discuss the Local Government’s Commission’s position on the repayment of $1.8 million to Henderson’s general fund. Another question asked who actually owned the land for the proposed site of the performance hall. The community’s ability to pay, the determination that this project was the greatest need of the city, as well as the feasibility of the application are just some of the additional questions.

The public is entitled to know what the city proposes to do, how they propose to do it, and the effect it will have on the taxpayer. There is no way the council can determine all of this unless they have the answers to most of the questions that were asked. If they have the answers why not inform the public? If they did not have the answers, why haven’t they found them out by now? If they never intend to provide the answers or if they intend to wait until the day of the next hearing, then this violates the grant application requirements.

There is another possible scenario and it involves a scapegoat to blame. The Foundation will say that so much turmoil was caused by having to answer the questions that they could not get the application completed by the deadline; therefore, the city lost the opportunity to get a million dollar grant and it is all because questions were asked. The former mayor Chic Young accused Jeanne Hight of something similar to this. It was untrue, but the accusations made bad publicity for Mrs. Hight. Using this tactic this time would be lame, however, as the questions were asked of the city government at a public hearing while the grant is being written by the non-profit Embassy Foundation. The city should already have the answers, after all, they have already voted to support the grant.

Another possible scenario is to drop the entire grant application at this time. That way the city could assume they do not have to answer any of the questions. If this is the plan of action, then the future of Henderson’s government is in serious trouble as it will not be the government of the people, but it will be a government in spite of and regardless of the people. That is not what we want to celebrate on July Fourth.

Elissa P. Yount
July 4, 2008