Guest opinion: Questions about Black Lives Matter mural remain
It just doesn’t seem plausible. No one on the Park City Council knew. Park City staff didn’t know. The Arts Council of Park City and Summit County must have known because it was the conduit of the funds but perhaps didn’t know its content and size. The Historic Park City Alliance, our local merchant association, didn’t know and was not consulted by anyone even though it was painted over the Fourth of July weekend, a weekend that typically is one of the busiest in terms of business. The Park City Police Department wasn’t made aware until 24 hours before it took place and had to close off Main Street in order for it to be done.
What am I writing about? The Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street. What happened with this highly political act? Just for reference, the three Black Lives Matter co-founders, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tomite, are self-avowed “trained Marxists.”
The City Council is thought to be non-partisan. Certainly members of the council are expected to have their individual political views, but as I understand it, those views are not supposed to be reflected in city actions dealing with city issues. The city has a policy of not requiring full council discussion and approval of funding of up to $25,000 by city staff. The city funneled $15,000 to the Park City Summit County Arts Council which was then used to fund the creation of the massive Black Lives Matter mural.
We have absolutely great city staff. But it feels like the City Council has circled the wagons and is protecting one or more of its own. Somebody had to know. It is virtually inconceivable that some member of the council did not. The BLM folks had to go to someone to get approvals and funding. Who was it? The voting electorate deserves to know and understand.
So, with respect to the Black Lives Matter mural, approvals were granted with lightning speed, and the city provided funds to promote an overtly political message on city property. It simply is implausible that somebody on the City Council wasn’t working directly with city staff in support of the BLM to get these approvals expeditiously. Contrast that with what happens with our three local Rotary clubs. They must go through time-consuming hoops and the permitting process to get approvals for events, and they must pay for the privilege to use city property. As I understand it, the intent of the fees charged to the Rotary clubs is to offset the cost of providing city services such as police oversight, emergency services that might be required and so on. The motivation of the Rotary clubs is to obtain funds for distribution to local not-for-profits as well as to generate interest and civic involvement with these same service groups. To add insult to injury with respect to the BLM, the city paid non-local people to make this happen. It all smells so fishy.
Just so that there is no misunderstanding about my biases, I will never vote for Donald Trump, I am a social liberal, I recognize and deplore the systemic racism that I believe is present in our society. I am a long, long way from being a Trump conservative which, by the way, I consider to be an oxymoron.
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Diane Thompson writes that City Hall should not be involved in financing or building an arts and culture district. Instead, it should sell the land to a developer to pursue the project.