Letter to the editor: Flippant leadership

To the editor:

Two recent items illustrate the remarkable flippancy with which the city government treats public dollars, as well as the vague phrase-mongering that substitutes for actual data in this city’s planning and budgeting.

First, we learned on Dec. 13 that the city has approved a contract with a consulting firm at the cost of an astonishing $114,904 — nearly double the U.S. per capita income — to create a marketing campaign to encourage drivers to slow down. Regular readers will recall that the Lawrence Police Department made a conscious choice to relax enforcement of speed limits (as reported, e.g., May 27, 2018). Now, rather than simply revert back to enforcement of speed limits, the city will pay six figures to create “signs and slogans” to encourage drivers to obey the law. Bear in mind that we already have such devices; you may know them as “speed limit signs.”

Second, on Dec. 28 we learn that local music promoters may ask the city to increase public funding for outdoor concerts to another six-figure sum. The article is full of oft-repeated Lawrence buzzwords that, when examined, mean nothing at all: “game-changing events,” “the big picture,” “change the narrative,” “raise the experience in downtown,” “thought leader.” All meaningless and hardly a substitute for the serious matter of devoting tax dollars to, say, George Clinton concerts. People vote with their feet. If events are worth attending, people will pay. Such is the wisdom of commerce. Such is not, it seems, the wisdom of Lawrence city planning.

R.M. Stangler,



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