At last night’s city council meeting, the Public Arts Fund was brought forth by Assistant City Manager Jeff Butters in a workshop. I like Butters. Not only does he have a face of integrity, but I found him to be highly engaging in a previous discussion we had about the Tea Party a long, long time ago. What I have to say about the topic of the Public Arts Fund is not against Butters in any way, as I know he is merely a messenger whom I refuse to shoot.
As Butters spoke, all I could think of was, “Now here they go again.” What was discussed is adding art on the property of the Wylie Public Works building because it sits next to the entrance to Founders Park off Hensley. Oh for the love of Saint Pete, who the hell is coming up with these brilliant effing ideas? I guess that would be the Public Art Advisory Board which consists of James Lenox, Susan Spurgin, Gaynell Reed, DeeAnn Ross, Stewart Matthews, Deya Harris, and the lovely Wylie City Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards.
I have to wonder if they sat around a work table and said, “Oh yes, lets commission a piece of art to make the public works building sure look purdy and oh, lets hit up the Utility Fund to pay for it.” As much as I can appreciate art, being an artist and all, I cannot even fathom why anyone would conjure up messing about with placing art outside the Public Works building during the dire economy we are currently living in. Are these people really that out of touch with reality? Uh, hello, it’s a clear day, land.
It’s an ugly public works building that every city has and every citizen essentially ignores. I drive by the Plano Public Works every day after work. It’s there. It’s ugly as a horned frog, but for God’s sake, do we need to put a piece of art there to make that fact even more obvious? WTF?
They reasoned that adding art there would be a draw to the entrance to Founder’s Park, but as Mayor rightfully stated, he thought art there would detract from the other features of Founders Park. From an artist’s perspective, you place specific features where you want the eye to travel and you can bet your bottom dollar eyes would be traveling to the unsightly Public Works and Animal Shelter buildings. Oh puhleese don’t do that. Mayor went on to say, he would rather see funds used on the Animal Shelter.
Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth stated he would rather see improvements made on 544 or 78 rather than the much lesser traveled Hensley Road, comparatively speaking. Then suddenly I found Councilwoman Diane Culver off on some tangent about artistic signage rather than other art media, and I was wondering what planet I had just landed on. It was not until today when I questioned her on it, did I find out that she did not initially understand that they intended to ask for money to pay for this brilliant idea from the Utility Fund. Once she made that discovery, she was against the idea. That’s OK, we all have our cranial flatulent moments.
Mayor Pro Tem stated, “Art in front of the public works building is not the best interest to the public.” White was concerned about funding it from the utility fund stating that, “it is not an appropriate place to get funding.” Spillyards suggested a compromise, using Culver’s ‘sign’ idea but it would still have to come out of the Utility Fund. She called the suggestion for improvements on 544 or 78 a grey area with regard to the function of the Public Art Advisory Board.
I think the most important comment of the night was made by Councilman David Goss who said we don’t typically find art in front of service buildings and he did not feel comfortable using the Utility Fund because the art funding was not built into the project originally, and here are the key words he uttered, “Especially with the last budget crunch.” Aha! This was the very thought I had as I sat there wondering if Goofy , Pluto, and Minnie were going to show up next.
Thankfully the idea was nixed and it’s a good thing, because this was definitely something I was going to have to roll up my sleeves over and get ready for a duke out, considering how during budget workshops last fall council was bent on swapping money from one fund to another just to make ends meet and still get their magical wish of a 2% bonus to their employees. Please remember everything in the budget is essentially on the taxpayer’s backs one way or another. I certainly don’t begrudge the employees their bonus, but I can tell you that nothing has changed, nor will it change next go around and council had better not come back with a two-peat on that idea this coming fall or I think I’m going to have to get really ugly about it because it’s time for a tax break to ease the burden placed on the citizens of Wylie. Period.
You see, this is the mindset of many of the commission members within Wylie. They want, they want, but they don’t know how they are going to pay for it all, but oh won’t it be uber special and they will play on citizen guilt in order to win. The nut cruncher is that they are hitting our pockets over and over again with these cockamamie ideas without a thought as to who is ultimately footing the bill. For years, our councils have merrily handed over the wads of cash and got away with it because times were relatively good, but that is old school and must be stopped.
Finally, we have a council that said, “No.” As on cue, a choir of chubby cheeked and rather robust angels bust out in song, while the curtains in the great temple tear away, the Red Sea parts, and the water is turned to wine. The word, ‘NO’. It’s freaking music to my ears.
There is hope for this council yet.