Tuesday, August 16

Talk about EBS over at the Electric City Blog

Geeguy has been very proactive in his posts about the month-long Lewis and Clark party that ended up costing our community $500 thousand. (Disclaimer; I helped plan one of the events). I am not going to re-post my comments which are in his blog. Read the posts and comments here, here and here.

It is important that we properly account for the money spent on this event/party. It is also important that we take away appropriate lessons on planning, scale and feasibility. However, I think that it is also important that we do not overly punish public officials for taking a calculated risk that could have paid off handsomely to our community.


Anonymous said...

Hi Aaron,

Long time reader, first time commenter. (Sorry, couldn't resist)

The Lewis and Clark 200 year celebration has been over hyped from the start. Period. I don't think many reasonable folks expected there to be a lot of L&C tourism, at least not to the extent that seemed to be planned for by the Great Falls committee. It was a bad idea. To call it a gamble and "gee wiz! it didn't work...sorry...." lets Great Falls city leaders off to easily. Let's have an honest discussion about it.

Treasure State Jew said...

With the benefit of hindsight, you are absolutely right. However, think back to the situation two years ago.

Events in Virginia and St. Louis had brought many tens of thousands of people. The 9/11 attacks were discouraging people away from vacationing out of the country or by air. A reasonable case could be made that the Great Falls L&C party would be a success.

We need to have that honest discussion. We need to hold our leaders accountable for it (and I think that is the main reason that this year's city commission race is the most contentious in recent history).

Some risks must be taken if we are going to get our economy out of its current rut. Was a big tourist event, showcasing our community, the right venue to do that? If you build it, will they come?

I really don't know. However, I do know that if we don't do something soon, Great Falls will rapidly go the way of Havre, Fort Benton and Dutton. I want my kids to be able to make a living here in 20 years. How do we make that possible?

GeeGuy said...

Aaron, I don't think it's as bad as all that. But, we need risk takers in this community. You...me, and others. And, as I will probably blog on, more casino owners.

Dona said...

I have no issues with the city supporting this event. My issues are with the lack of leadership oversight on this event. It looks as though no one was paying attention - surely the "slow" ticket sales should have indicated to someone that this event was NOT going to draw as many people as first predicted. Peggy Bourne said, "We didn't draw as many people as we had hoped." Well, folks - hope is NOT a plan. City leadership should have moved swiftly to reduce the size, scope and expense. Obviously, this did not happen, and now we are left holding a $535,000 bag.
Taxpayers are angry - can you blame them?

Treasure State Jew said...


I think you are right. I remember seeing articles in the Tribune from March and April, talking about the slow bookings as a concern.

At that point, the City Commission should have stood up and exercised leadership to scale back the event.

Taxpayers should be angry -- half a million dollars is a lot of money, especially in the same year that we had to close a school for lack of funds.