A note from Jeff Rainford, Mayor Slay’s chief of staff:
An editorial in this morning’s newspaper suggested that the most recent snag in the BJC lease is the result of a disagreement between Mayor Slay and Comptroller Darlene Green. That is not accurate.
Here are the facts:
After hearing from many of the City’s most influential community and business leaders, Comptroller Green decided to support the BJC lease amendment in Forest Park. She cast a vote in favor of the lease at a meeting of the Board of Estimate & Apportionment last week.
One remaining issue in the lease agreement is the disposition of $1.2 million a year freed up by the lease. Mayor Slay has proposed spending it for capital improvements in other parks. Comptroller Green and the Board of Aldermen concur.
However, Comptroller Green and the Board of Aldermen do not agree with each other in exactly how to allocate that money. The comptroller favors spending half of the allocation “north of Delmar.” The aldermanic African American caucus feels - correctly, I think - that such a resolution would weaken the entire Board’s support for the proposal. They propose, by way of compromise, that half of the proceeds be allocated among 14 wards that are predominantly African American.
As far at the mayor is concerned, the ultimate disposition of the new citywide parks improvement money should be an aldermanic decision, not an executive one. That’s why he asked the Board of Estimate to support the aldermanic compromise that the comptroller has, for the moment, rejected. That honest difference of opinion is not between the mayor and the comptroller. It is between the comptroller and the aldermen-- and the two of them are not far apart.
All of this brings me back to the editorial in this morning’s paper. Too often, that newspaper confuses disagreements over policy with "infighting" and divisions along racial lines. In doing so this time, they misreported an important moment in City governance when a coalition of black and white community and business leaders worked together to untangle a vexing problem. In the end, I suspect that the same coalition of elected officials and community leaders that brought the deal this far will get it over the finish line. At that point, I hope the newspaper’s editorial writers try again.