Friday, November 6, 2020

City Council, November 9th - Public Art Maintenance

A problem with our Public Art funding may seem like a small and minor detail, but it's really emblematic of the way we slight the whole lives of things and people, privileging the gaudy and ceremonial moment of acquisition or creation, and rarely giving enough thought to care and maintenance, especially at end-of-life.

January 2020

On Monday Council will likely make Public Art funds available for maintenance on things like the Acid Ball at Riverfront Park.

Salem’s Public Art Fund supports the Public Art Collection and is funded by donations, grants, and through the dedication of one-half of one percent of eligible publicly funded capital improvement project costs. As part of the City of Salem’s 2020-21 Budget, the Public Art Fund was allocated $10,000 from the Transient Occupancy Tax fund to help support future acquisition, management, and maintenance of art in the City’s Public Art Collection. The October 2020 balance of the Public Art Fund is $60,024.

Per Salem Revised Code 15.030, 70 percent of these funds are to be used for acquiring public art, 20 percent are to be used for the purposes of managing the Public Art Collection to include program management and community education, and 10 percent are to be used to support maintenance, conservation, and deaccessioning of artworks in the Public Art Collection.

The present percent allocations within the Public Art Fund mean that minimal funding is available to care for and repair existing artwork in the Public Collection. At present, this means funds are available for new acquisition, but not for maintenance. With an aging collection and growing maintenance needs, this makes caring for the City’s valued collection a challenge. The proposed revisions to SRC Chapter 15 remove the existing percent allocations to allow the existing funds to be used for maintenance and care of the existing collection.

Across so many areas we need to align capital funding for acquisition and creation better with ongoing operations funding for maintenance and replacement.

There is movement on a couple of significant initiatives for serving people who lack housing.

The City proposes to purchase the land under the ARCHES building and to arrange an inexpensive ground lease as a way to support the programming at ARCHES. Again, we see how operations funding is a problem.

Proceeds from the sale will allow Seller [ARCHES/MWVCAA] to pay off its mortgage on the Property, and funds previously used for debt service will be used to expand service days/hours to serve the homeless community. The cost associated with the expanded service hours are roughly equivalent to the amount of monthly debt service the seller will no longer incur.

Apparently buying the land underneath a facility is "not uncommon around the country as a means for subsidizing the cost of affordable housing, social services, and land banking."

Separately, Councilor Nordyke requests a plan for a CAHOOTS style program. (Both of these are areas where operational budgets may suffer relative to capital budgets.)

CANDO has more detailed comments and criticism on both of these, generally positive about the ground purchase/lease arrangement, and critical of CAHOOTS staging.

They are also critical of former Councilor Kaser and her action on the German Baptist Church. It certainly seemed to be a bit devious and failed to meet the spirit of transparency. But she has resigned now. Interestingly, Council apparently can't just appoint Councilor-elect Stapleton to Kaser's now-open position, and we will have to have her as guest councilor until she can be sworn in properly in January. Here's a catch-22 we have:

Filling a vacancy: Under section 20(1) of the Charter, if less than a year remains until the next primary election at the time a vacancy occurs, the vacancy is filled by an appointment of council. Under section 20(2) if more than a year remains until the next primary election at the time a vacancy occurs, the vacancy is filled by special election.

In this case, the next primary election isn’t until May 2022, which is more than a year from now. If council declares a vacancy prior to councilor-elect Stapleton’s new term in January, the vacancy could not be filled by appointment. Further, there is insufficient time to conduct a special election to fill the seat before the new term begins in January.

Council Rule 18(h) allows council to appoint a councilor-elect when a seat becomes vacant. However, by its terms, Council Rule 18(h) only applies when a vacancy occurs under Section 20(1) of the City Charter. Section 20(1) of the Charter only applies when there is less than a year from the next primary election. That is not the case here. Further amending the council rules to apply under these circumstances will not change the result, because council rules cannot contradict the City Charter, and the Charter states that the vacancy must be filled by a special election.

However, Council may, under Council Rule 21 appoint someone to serve continuously as guest councilor if a councilor will either be absent from Council for an extended period or if council declares a seat vacant. [italics added]

So as far as voting (distinct from sitting or talking) goes, we'll have an even-numbered Council for a bit it looks like.


Sarah Owens said...

On October 23, 2020, Kaser entered into a stipulated final order with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission in which she agreed she'd violated ORS 244.120(2) by failing to disclose that she lived across the street from a proposed low-income housing development that was before Council on an application for the City's HOME funds. She also failed to disclose that she was married to the neighborhood association officer who testified against the development. She was instrumental in persuading Council not to approve the funding award, even though the project was eligible. The Planning Commission subsequently approved the development, and the Grant neighborhood association appealed. Council is to conduct a hearing on the development on November 23, 2020. Read the stipulated order at page 123 of the November 6, 2020 OGEC meeting packet.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Well, very interesting. The stipulated order also seems to suggest that bad advice from the City Attorney is also involved, however, and blame should be at least partially shared. (Sections 3.F & G in the Stipulated Order.) Thanks for the update.