City Hall Monitor
posted by June 7 at 15:18 PMon
Lisa Herbold, superstar aide to Council President Nick Licata, called me with a “tiny little complaint” about my article in this week’s paper. The article explains the city waited until after SAM reopened their downtown museum to announce that Hempfest could use SAM’s sculpture park as an access route to Myrtle Edwards Park this August. In other words, the city wouldn’t piss off SAM until after their big gala.
Herbold was disappointed because I omitted mention of Licata’s efforts to mediate a solution. I didn’t have room in the printed piece to include Licata’s role, but there’s room in these here tubes.
Over the past year, Licata and his staff spent dozens of hours trying to find an access agreement between SAM and Hempfest. He coordinated numerous meetings, including representatives of SAM and Hempfest, the Council’s Parks Committee chair David Della, and the council’s Public Safety Committee. He even wrote an official letter last year asking SAM not to excavate a beach on the waterfront, which would severely narrow the path to Myrtle Edwards Park. Yet SAM dug it out anyway—SAM was the 800-pound gorilla on the waterfront. Licata did his best and deserves credit for his efforts. Several other factors lead to the city’s decree: The law department knew the city didn’t have a legal leg to stand, as was clear from the autocratic letter sent to SAM last month; newspapers gave SAM and the city bad ink; and an audit of the city’s Special Events Committee requested by Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck put the entire process under a microscope.
Which of the councilmembers, meetings, legal threats, news stories, legal department edicts, or invisible hands from the upper floors of city hall ultimately prompted the city to harsh SAM’s mellow? It is undoubtedly a confluence of factors, but, for whatever reasons, the official interpretation of the two-year-old waterfront-use agreement wasn’t made in Hempfest’s favor until one week after SAM’s re-opening.