“Our staff rocks! Complainers can kick rocks.” – Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr to those who dared challenge her on Facebook about the city's recent handling of Superday
BY D. REED ECKHARDT
There is so much that might be said about those seven words from the Capital City’s “can’t do” mayor.
Marian Orr’s attitude toward those who pay her salary is outrageous. But it also is not anything new. It was on display even before she took office: She used every dirty tactic she could think of to win her 2016 election. The haughtiness. The pettiness. The arrogance. Her recent effort
to dump members of the Downtown Development Authority who stood up to her when she tried to slash that agency’s budget is more proof of all that.
|Superday attracts thousands to Lions Park each year.|
But that is not the subject of this column. Rather it is about Ms. Orr’s “can’t do” mentality that continues to hold Cheyenne back. Rather than adopting a vision of greatness for the Capital City and then finding the means – any and all means – to execute it, projects and ideas are cast aside because, well, they just can’t be done.
Listen to the mayor complain to the local newspaper about Superday, which has been in place for 37 years and has been one of City Hall’s greatest gifts to those who live here:
“The tents at the events don’t set up and take down themselves. It takes (city) staff, just on that particular day, an extreme amount of time, not to mention the planning that goes into it for months beforehand. It really takes a lot of manpower.”
Oh boo hoo. The city has to spend some money and use its personnel to create an event that brings Cheyenne together in ways that no other event does, not even Frontier Days, because it is free and does not try to milk every cent out of residents. (Or at least it has been free until it started charging for armbands. More on that in a moment). Superday truly is a great event that helps bind City Hall to the people of Cheyenne. That Orr is even considering shutting it down shows how small her vision truly is.
Orr’s complaints about Superday have no merit – except perhaps to those local naysayers who do not want city government to use its funds for anything except streets. There always is money when city leaders want to do something – like spending $16,000 on flowers for downtown pots, right mayor? So complaining about the costs of Superday isn’t a reason, it’s an excuse not to do something Orr doesn’t want to do.
Similarly, the complaint about the time it takes to put up and take down the event is just so much political hot air. Getting the personnel in place is simply a matter of budgeting and paying employees for their work. Schedules can be maneuvered to keep overtime to a minimum, and money can be set aside in advance to pay for the work. Again, it’s amazing how funds can be found when City Hall wants to do something. When it doesn’t, well, the whining begins.
Similarly, charging $30 per person (that’s $120 for a family of four) for armbands at Superday is a slap in the face of the everyday people of Cheyenne, and again it shows Orr’s disdain for them. Perhaps to someone who makes $95,000 a year and surely salted away the big bucks when she was lobbying for corporations and others in the Legislature, $100 is nothing. But to the people of Cheyenne – whose pay is depressed here by the very people Orr lobbied for – that is not nothing. And to take an event that was once free for all and turn it into an elitist happening is scandalous.
At least the president of the City Council has his mind in the right place. Rocky Case told the local newspaper:
“This thing has grown into a fantastic one-day event every summer. … I think the Community Recreation and Events Department should do their best to break even, but they should not be in the business of striving to make money.”
Mr. Case and the rest of the council should send a firm message to the mayor that they will, in no way, allow her to kill or cheapen Superday. The large number of comments on local Facebook pages regarding Orr’s plans should tell the council that their constituents have no interest in seeing Superday go away. Council members also should stand tall against any and all efforts to turn Superday into an event that only those with money can afford to attend.
Perhaps council members could encourage Orr to grow her volunteer corps or develop more sponsorships. Of course, a “can do” mayor would think of those things herself.
No doubt, Her Honor won’t like the City Council dictating to her what she can or can’t do. But that’s just too bad.
Maybe she should just go kick rocks.
D. Reed Eckhardt is the former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.