A Pollyanna Tale

No, I’m rarely mistaken for Pollyanna. But then perhaps there’s good reason for that.

CRA Workshop Agenda for April 11, 2012 ~

Pollyanna is a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter that is now considered a classic of children’s literature, with the title character’s name becoming a popular term for someone with the same optimistic outlook.   From Wikipedia

Tomorrow night our town will host a CRA workshop in the town chambers at 6:30 p.m. The public, as well as all CRA “stakeholders”, are invited. A time for public comments and questions will be provided. If you would like to understand where our town is headed as far as the CRA is going and get some insight into this Agency, it’s plans and it’s funding, please come to the meeting and get informed… or come and give them your two cents on the matter.

Now, my intention here is not to be snarky, not entirely anyway. However, how likely is it that I could read Lake Park’s CRA information, which I gleaned from their website to post for those who are not familiar with the CRA’s operation, and not find myself, shall we say, a little cynical? But don’t let my disenchantment sway you. I just get the feeling I’m in the presence of used a car salesman whenever the CRA spin gets underway. So I have posted the town’s CRA information here, in their own words, so you can get a feel for the billing they give themselves in print. It will be presented much the same if not more confidently from the podium I would assume. If anyone suffers from Pollyanna optimism, it’s our town in relation to their faith in the CRA. What they want it to be and what it actually is may not be in sync exactly. Rundown and/or empty storefronts and questionable use of funds and empty coffers have a right to tell their side of the tale. Hopefully tomorrow night, we will hear a little of the truth of the matter. Not betting on it, but we can hope for some honesty right?

So what do we do, do we trust them and what they want us to believe or “our lying eyes”? I’m just saying again…there may or may not be a bit of Pollyanna going on in our town in regard to the CRA, it’s operations, income and its potential for future prosperity. But then again, government money is on the line. The lure of tens of thousands to upwards of millions of dollars of “free money” has a certain mystical quality that keeps the starry-eyed always entranced and following the latest monetary lure into what will hopefully be our town’s next chance at a great awakening. The hope seems to always be that government will solve our problems. I’m afraid this mindset is at the heart of the CRA. Someone spotted an opportunity to get their mitts on some handouts, lots of handouts, and so the cycle began and thus it continues.

Unfortunately, the state of reality, inconvenient though it might be, stands in contrast to quite a bit of what is presented on the CRA website. I understand the “fake it til you make it” concept which can be useful for a time in many endeavors to get them off the ground, however, the CRA has been in operation for 16 years. At what point do they admit that their hopes and dreams for a utopian government intervention are not working? When will they call it a decade (and a half) and move on?

Tomorrow night the town will host a CRA workshop. I’m not sure exactly what this meeting has morphed into, so I guess we’ll have to watch and find out. My guess is that it will be a hard sell by those with a vested interest in its success. And who would that be? The numbers of those who benefit are likely many, and come from those within Lake Park branching outward into other agencies and entities who stand to personally gain from their interaction with the money flow, if things work out. That’s the way it looks from where I’m sitting anyway. Like I said, call ME cynical, or call IT reality. 16 years is a long experiment.

Below is the town’s introduction to the CRA from their website. Unfortunately, you have to read between the lines, know what they aren’t telling you and have a little knowledge of what has actually been going on in town to understand how much of what is written there is pie in the sky. The funding part alone is quite misleading and fails to mention how the funding for many aspects of the CRA are shared with the town, not only through town funds that pay for part to half of certain CRA services, but we also fund it through all manner of taxes which go toward the county, state and federal grants and loans that flow in and out of the CRA like foot traffic through the corner Market. It certainly isn’t free and it is hard to imagine it’s generating $1 million a year, unless they mean in government handouts. But then the information on the website presented here looks like it’s three years old.

How they allocate their budget is another story indeed. You can always read the CRA budget to find out, if you can find it. I didn’t have time to look for it again. I think it is found within the town’s budget if you are interested (found on the town website under Finance Director tab). Town budgets are always an interesting read. Always a good mystery.. or is it comedy… or rather tragedy? Call it what you will; the way CRA money is spent has some in town shaking their heads and questioning the legitimacy of this agency altogether. But don’t take my word for it. Please come and get informed. This meeting will be, in part, for you. Have questions? Come and ask. Have suggestions? Come and make them. The mic will be open. Your town is on the line.