In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, “Absolutely not!” To use the dog food analogy one alderman used in responding to some of Branson’s shows when they asked for help, “He doesn’t like the ‘dog food’ they’re feeding to the citizens of Branson.” On second thought, considering the results of their actions, comparing them to “dogfood” is a disservice to the dog food industry.
An Ole Seagull isn’t bright enough to untangle the financial mess the city of Branson is in. The current financial status and progress of the highly-vaunted Highway 76 Project speaks for itself. What is not as obvious, is how tens of millions of dollars were spent, and the first shovel of dirt turned, on the Highway 76 project without the city’s appointed and elected leaders having a very precise plan on what they wanted to do, how they were going to do it, and the financing in place to do it.
That they didn’t, especially considering the downtown revitalization debacle” is, in the opinion of an Ole Seagull, at a minimum, inexcusable negligence. There’s just something about the projects sudden transfer from CFS Engineering, the team who was paid over $7 million for the initial engineering and design work on the project, to the new team of Jim Martin, who the city hired to oversee the project; Ann McDowell, head of Project Branson; and Korey Schultz, of Olsson Associates, last summer that doesn’t make sense.
“What do you mean doesn’t make sense Seagull?” “Well the city made the change, but on what basis and why?”
In January of 2017, it was reported that “Mayor Karen Best said, “Where are we and what are we doing?… the board wants to know what they can expect and when. She said they don’t have a budget, don’t have a concept and don’t know what the expectations are.” Alderwoman Betsy Seay said “she feels like they don’t know where they’re going, that they’re rushing forward…it’s like ‘putting the cart before the horse.’” Perhaps alderman Bob Simmons summed it up best when he said that “he feels like he’s coming out of the gate for an eight-second bull ride and he doesn’t have a grip.”
“Seagull are you saying that about six months after making the change that the mayor and aldermen were saying words to the effect of “we don’t have a budget, don’t have a concept and don’t know what the expectations are?” “No, they did!”
“Aren’t those questions that should have been asked and answered before they spent the first dollar of the millions of dollars they’ve spent? Before they decided it was necessary ‘to change horses in midstream’ during the summer of 2016 and tore into Highway 76? Do you think any of them would have made decisions for their own business in this same way?” “Surely those are rhetorical questions; aren’t they?”
“Seagull, do you see it getting better or worse?” “Well we do get the kind of government we deserve.”
An Ole Seagull would ask this question of Branson residents, voters, and businesses, “When’s the last time your city government said, ‘We are going to do ‘something’ for you?’” “Something” could be a reduction in sewer or water rates, the development of a residential public transportation system for residents, free passes to the rec center for residents, the restriction on the use of city marketing funds to market Branson businesses, shows, and attractions etc.
“Well Seagull they did get us a $75 thousand plus Christmas tree, $1 million worth of statues that we are paying over $75 thousand a year to store and insure, half of the Branson Landing Fountains for which we pay over $300 thousand a year to maintain, and a $4 million parking lot, park, and restroom facility at the corner of Pacific and Business 65 in downtown Branson.” “Ok, you win. All will be wonderful, every day will be a holiday, every meal will be a banquet, and the tooth fairy will take care of our financial challenges.”