In the last council meeting, some members were offended that Elliot Liebson referred to his $130,000 consultant request as “a little bit of change.” We now know that while some on council believe that is too much to be regarded as insignificant, $26,400 apparently is not. That is the amount which the council of our allegedly broke city approved for a two page monthly city advertisement in the privately owned Ferguson Neighborhood News. There was not a single vote in opposition, though Heather Robinett, who spoke against this item when it was requested previously, was not at the meeting. Council held a special meeting, with no hint in the agenda about what issue would be discussed, on the Friday evening of the Memorial Day holiday. The meeting was just 20 minutes long, and no other substantial business was conducted there.
This would be of little significance, the city needing to communicate with its residents and all, were it not for one important detail: In December, we sent an email to the entire council offering them unlimited space in these pages, at no cost at all. And unlike a printed newspaper, our online publication would allow them to provide updates as needed throughout the month, rather than a canned monthly product. We received no response from the council, and have been ignored by them since then. We provide that email here, so that you can confirm this with your own eyes – just click on the little picture to see the email in full size.
Of course, while the Ferguson Neighborhood News has a handful of monthly columns by city residents, we actually report news. As our dear readers know, we have focused on the council and city government, with some coverage of other events in Ferguson. As we grow, our coverage of other events will grow also. And because of your interest, our readership grows daily. The city has spent “a little bit of change” to buy space in which they can pat themselves on the back, without fear that a reporter may be examining malfeasance or questioning the wisdom of their decisions.
The city claimed that there were some senior citizens who have no internet access, and who insisted that they must continue to be provided a mailed copy of a free newspaper at city expense. We walk the streets of this city every day, and there is hardly a block where the asphalt is not broken down to the concrete below, not a park which does not reek of long deferred maintenance. Yet your council has approved $26,400 to provide printed newspapers for a few dozen people who don’t have the internet? Not likely. Rather, they have chosen to shovel some money at their friends, as they have been doing for years.
We have not sought and would not accept a dime from the city, even had they taken us up on our offer of unlimited space at no cost. But since the city has so much extra money, let’s remember that when they cry poor. Just a short time ago, they proposed dismantling our fire department and raising the taxes on every home in Ferguson by hundreds of dollars a year, because they were in such great need of additional funding. When they come back to make that demand, remember that every member of our council voted to spend $26,400 on something which they were offered for free. And perhaps, remember that when your council members ask for your vote in April.