Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 1 day ago on Scott Bideau: URA frustrations

Michael, in 2013 I contacted a lot of my fellow Oak Street owners about the brewing URA and BID. Your sentiment about owners bearing responsibility for their sidewalks was prominent among those willing to discuss it. And strongly felt. Some got angry when talking about taxpayers paying for the slacker owners' improvements. (I agree with the sentiment, but my neighbor is Horizons and we know they have other valueable things to do with their donations. There are many other non-profits down our street.)

But it is important to realize this is strictly the area of a URA, and not a BID. A URA can build infrastructure, bricks and mortar. A BID is by law limited to maintenance and marketing. The BID vote was not, and could not, be about improvements.

When you read of council's takeaway from the BID failure - that we don't want to step up - please remember actual BID ballot proposal. The proposal text had local owners committing to a permanent property tax, and no text on what the money would be used for. In my view, the question of trust was made larger than the question of stepping up.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 1 day ago on Emails reveal more about city's response to police misconduct accusations

Thank you Sonja.

It is Tony Lettunich's primary job to protect city council and the city manager. He is just doing his job. City Council has a VERY different job description and should understand the difference. If they remain content to follow Tony's advice, withholding emails and any other related information, they are well on their way to doubling the scope of their problems.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 3 days ago on Scott Bideau: URA frustrations


"We were going to recommend that you pass it (URA) contingent upon the BID vote being positive." - Deb Hinsvark (September 2, 2014)

"It [Mountain BID] wasn't formed and now the city is stuck with the maintenance. I'm not in favor of that at all." - Bart K (September 2, 2014, 3:21:00)

"As a matter of fact, if the BID vote goes negative, then I said that's when we stop" - Tony Connell (September 2, 2014, 3:38:26)

Before these posts from Scott B, I accepted the argument that the motion was fuzzy and not firm intent. This history ruins that argument, and my trust. "No BID, No URA" was a political maneuver to leverage a permanent, open-ended property tax, and not a shred of truth behind it.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 3 days ago on Our View: Integrity of investigation compromised

And the path that does bring integrity to the investigation? This post from Scott W makes sense:

"The way an independent investigator is normally chosen is to find a law firm that has experience doing independent investigations. That law firm then offers a limited selection of independent investigators it has pre-qualified. The law firm oversees the independent investigator making sure standards of completeness and thoroughness are being met. Note that a law firm could be disbarred and/or sued if the investigation is not done to professional standards. All correspondence from the investigation is done via the City's attorney and are communicated to both the city council and the city manager.

Any communications to the independent investigator must be acceptable to the city council, must be accepted as maintaining the investigator's independence by the city attorney and then passed to the overseeing law firm which must also accept the communications are appropriate before passing it to the independent investigator. The final report should include all such communications.

The final report is to be vetted by the law firm and given to the City Attorney to then share, unedited to the city council and city manager."

The City manager should consider this path.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 3 days ago on Scott Bideau: URA frustrations

What you describe is possible here - matching commitments from Riverwalk and others shouldn't be too hard. But it doesn't change the size of the City spend which is a bigger issue.

The fire station is part of any change at that facility but not discussed. Where is the next campus for the fire station if it is to move?


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 3 days ago on Scott Bideau: URA frustrations

It wasn't arguable doubt, it was complete contradiction. Council saying the BID was for URA project maintenance and the BID board insisting it was not for URA project maintenance. Scott Ford was at the BID informational meeting and heard what I heard. Jim Stanko of the VFW was focused on this point as well.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 3 days ago on Scott L. Ford: TIF is a bag of snakes

I would be happier if the City simplified its approach to these big items. The lumping of basic infrastructure spending in with amenities spending in the URA has made it huge. Do I have to support the URA's promenade and park improvements to get our sidewalks completed?

The police station project was been bundled with several dance partners; Big Agnes, the Iron Horse, medical arts of the hospital. Meanwhile the fire station below the police station can't get a dance at all.

Can we hold the police and fire station as a standalone choice, the sidewalks as a standalone, promenade as a standalone, park improvements as standalone…… lay out the pros/cons/costs and then pick the best one to do first? Later choose a next one as our budget allows?

I have to agree with Scott Ford. These spending questions belong back in the capital improvements queue, with subsequent councils given a choice too.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 4 days ago on Scott Bideau: URA frustrations

Thanks for posting the quotes. Amazing research.

BTW, the BID did not fail because downtown owners are unwilling to contribute. The BID failed because the use of the tax revenue was undefined.

The "No BID, No URA" promise had another ugly aspect. With that motion, Council set in motion a BID campaign that equated a vote against the BID as a vote against needed infrastructure. Needed sidewalks were held hostage as leverage to gain the open-ended BID tax. It was coercion. And intimidation. My quotes in a Pilot article told everyone that I was standing in the way of needed infrastructure.

The motion was smart politics. Impossible to respect now that they don't really mean it, but a smart trick to play.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 5 days ago on From the editor: Having the right and doing right are 2 different things

Damian, Thanks for your service. I mean that. I have no doubt that yours is the toughest job.

You are right: "people do not realize" and "there is no balance". It seems fair to say, it is past time for some realization and some balancing. Our tourism economy and the never-ending marketing of this town mean its easier to avoid this discussion than it is to have it. We need a serious newspaper for balance, else we will continue to have no clue of the problems you discuss.

Lawsuits? Definitely some are frivolous. But the justice system and courts are the only system we, or anyone, can turn to for fairness. Not perfect. But it is all we have.