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City Council Should Scrutinize New, Stimulus-Funded Jobs

Earlier this year, The Post-Journal voiced its opinion that a public relations person for Jamestown’s $28.3 million federal stimulus program was a complete and utter waste of money.

Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s revised stimulus spending plan presented to the City Council for approval Monday still included almost $400,000 over six years to pay someone for public communications and coordination of the stimulus plan. In our view, the position isn’t needed in the least. If the city is spending the federal windfall well, the results will be readily apparent to all of Jamestown’s 31,000 residents. If not, no amount of federally funded lipstick will make this pig of a position into a beauty queen.

Another position should also face close scrutiny from the council — an events coordinator.

Sundquist plans to spend $1 million on a downtown programming fund and for an events coordinator. If the events coordinator ends up making the same amount of money as the stimulus plan spin master, it’s a waste of another $400,000. The city would be better off coordinating with the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce, which already puts on one of the better attended downtown programs in the downtown Jamestown Cruise In and which has a group of businesses that meet on a regular basis to work on events.

City funding, used properly, can help create the type of regular events needed to boost downtown. But downtown events have languished since the people who really cared about putting them on retired. A temporary city position is only a short-term band-aid to that problem unless the mayor’s plan is a permanent city job — which we can’t envision working once the stimulus funding runs out.

A better path forward would be getting the groups involved with city events on the same page and finding a way to support them rather than supplanting them with a position based out of city hall.

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