Good post, Dave. Three comments/questions: Shouldn't the library have initiated/organized/asked for the very type of meetings that have been occurring to build consensus for a proposal? As far as anyone knows, the expansion proposal is dead in the water...maybe there's something going on at the county and DMC EDA, but you wouldn't know it...and the city's "tentative approval" is more like an ambiguous nod of the head, rather than tentative approval. Second: These are the very people the library needs to move a plan -- any plan -- forward. It's counterproductive to portray people like Kiscaden and yes, Staver, as dark forces trying to work outside established channels. Third: Doesn't a combined facility of the kind described today make a lot of sense? - Jay Furst comment posted to Facebook 08.06.16
Here are responses to Jay Furst's comments to yesterday's blog. As I was getting to those, he posted some related comments on his blog, I'll get to them below.
Shouldn't the library have initiated/organized/asked for the very type of meetings that have been occurring to build consensus for a proposal?
It depends on what you think these meetings are about. The reporting says the group's purpose is "to facilitate discussion between several groups who have similar goals and similar needs." Since they are not just concerned with the library, but also UMR, the Y, and the Children's Museum, then probably no, I wouldn't expect the library to have initiated, etc. these meetings.
Though the impetus for convening the meetings to begin with appears to have been the rejection by the county of a library expansion proposal, the meetings seem centered on the UMR/Recreation District of the DMC master plan. Notions of re-locating the library there are not new. They have come up before. I don't know that the library seriously pursued it nor that anyone brought forth a serious proposal for it to do so.
Given the group's reported purpose, one could just as well ask shouldn't have UMR or the Y or the Children's Museum initiated, etc. these meetings. None of them did either. Meetings about these organizations were convened without these organizations.
Convening a group to work on the UMR/Recreation district has been proposed. One problem is the current DMC EDA strategy of taking the DMC master plan forward piecemeal starting with Heart of the City and Discovery Square. Maybe this approach makes sense on a Gantt Chart but, it's not keeping up with events on the street. St. Mary's Place isn't waiting. The UMR/Recreation district doesn't now appear to be either. With the DMC EDA understaffed, it's can't be easy keeping up. In whatever way this gets resolved, it's probably not best done ad hoc.
Of course, let's not lose in all this that the city council president - a member of this group - has already made his "consensus" position clear.
As far as anyone knows, the expansion proposal is dead in the water...
Probably safe to say that the initial $55 million proposal the library brought forward is off the table. Apparently there was no Plan B. The reporting is that the library is hard at work on one but "has not changed its approach to expansions plans" having "not seen a better option than the expansion of the library at the current location come forward." I assume that includes the option of re-locating to the UMR/Recreation district. I'm thinking these ad hoc group meetings have been about saying to the library: better take another look.
Again, the city council president leaves no doubt that in his view the library needs to find someplace else to be.
maybe there's something going on at the county and DMC EDA, but you wouldn't know it...
According to recent reports in the Post-Bulletin, the county and the DMC EDA, along with other elected officials and selected others, have been meeting privately as part of this ad hoc group. But, no, you wouldn't have likely known it otherwise. Nor would anyone else had the city council president not announced what he did at the forum and people began asking where did that come from?
and the city's "tentative approval" is more like an ambiguous nod of the head, rather than tentative approval.
Yeah. And, given the county's unambiguous shake of the head, moot as well. Even more so, the city council president is now on record withdrawing his support for library expansion at its current location. But then you know that. Indeed, that's how we got to these comments and questions in the first place.
Second: These are the very people the library needs to move a plan -- any plan -- forward.
You are right. There is considerable political power and private influence embodied in the electeds and selecteds comprising this group. I assume that's why they were invited to be among the convened. Though there is a collective wisdom amongst them, I am not sure one can overlook the aggregated power and influence.
Frankly, to be honest, if the outcome is just to get these four organizations to sit down with a "design expert," it seems a bit excessive to me. Rochester is not a what I'd consider a "consultant averse" city. Why in this instance would it take some rather heroic "encouragement" to get these four organizations in the same room with a consultant, a white board, and some Post-It notes? Why must a "safe environment" be created to even make the suggestion?
Of course, given the city council president's statement it seems to be more than a suggestion.
It's counterproductive to portray people like Kiscaden and yes, Staver, as dark forces trying to work outside established channels.
I do think it remains to be seen where the counter productivity - or productivity, if any - will come to reside. But, since the stated intent of the group was to work outside established channels ("a different avenue of dialogue" was the phrase) why would it be counter productive to say so?
I believe I took care not to characterize persons as "dark," but rather the process. I do see parallels - in principle at least - between the "safe and encouraging environment" created by a 501(c)(4) to solicit what has come to be known as "dark money" and the similar effort here to insulate dialogue from... whom? Here is something else that is odd to me - what does creating a "safe and encouraging environment" mean in this instance? As mentioned above, if the outcome is just to suggest these four organizations sit down with a "design expert" why does that require a "safe and encouraging environment" to accomplish?
The selecteds are all either private individuals or represent private organizations. However, the four electeds cannot shake the other obligations they carry by virtue of their offices. I appreciate that our cultural light/dark framing carries certain connotations that using "dark dialogue" evokes, but it is only to the appropriateness of the process to which the term is applied.
If "dark dialogue" is too provocative, substitute " not transparent dialogue" and add a "?" if that helps take the edge off. But whatever one calls it, it is not without consequence as we saw on stark display in the city council president's recent remarks.
At any rate, I reserve the use of the phrase "dark forces" for Cthulhu, Thanos, and their ilk.
Third: Doesn't a combined facility of the kind described today make a lot of sense?
The Y and UMR are already located or planning to locate at the UMR/Recreation district site. So, what's really up for discussion are the library and the Children's Museum. The latter is on record as being months away from even beginning to seriously consider their space requirements and preferences and is currently engaged in a process of their own to sort that out. So their answer would likely be at best: we'll have to get back to you on that.
As for the library, the reporting indicates that they have not seen a better option than the one they are pursuing - including the one it is suggested they meet with a design expert about.
Does it make sense to me? I guess I kind of like the library right where it is. Let's see if they can make it work even without the current city council president's support.
There's always a klatch.
Furst's most recent Furst Draft has a much more cheerful outlook on this whole thing. Sliced bread takes a backseat to what is now just a "high-minded coffee klatch" that simply required the efforts of the only person "in public life in Rochester who would have the local and legislative chops, the connections and credibility to step forward and do this." That's some klatch.
Of course this effort isn't just some elected officials sitting down with voters at the Food Coop for a morning coffee. Ad hoc though it may be, it has been an organized and systematic enterprise - looking, walking, and talking like "a well-oiled policy machine." Admittedly the gears jammed a bit when the city council president mucked up the communication plan mid-soft launch. Be that as it may, I'll cheerfully grant - klatch or otherwise - it is "high-minded."
As to the choice of "memes," Furst does not claim that this klatch had no issues with transparency. On the contrary, he takes well-deserved pride in asserting that this group "is newsworthy, and it's our job as a news organization to dig this out and deliver the transparency." Adding as if having just landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier, "Mission accomplished. I'm guessing the group's process changes as a result."
Perhaps, in time, it will occur to him that "dark dialogue" refers to the lack of transparency he now celebrates as having been so intrepidly dug out and delivered by the Post Bulletin.
On the bright side, I can close on my own cheerful note that both Furst Draft and A Life and the Times have reached a consensus on the issue of this ad hoc group's transparency. Not so much before. Much better now.