Saturday, June 23, 2007


Editorial Commentary

Beckering Motion Exposes Hypocrisy
Of Do As I Say - Not As I Do - Feldman

Seventh Ward Councilman Dave Beckering recently made a motion to eliminate what was left of the Councilmember’s ward discretionary funds. These were funds that the ward’s councilmember could direct towards projects specifically in that ward. The money initially came from a one-time windfall the city received from permits for the new Ameristar Casino Hotel of $1.4 million.
Councilman Beckering said that earmarking such funds was seen as a way to “buy votes” in some cases. Shortly after being elected, Councilman Beckering received a report that $490,000 was left from the original $1.4 million. But just a month later, only $192,000 was able to be returned to the General Fund.

So what happened to the other money?
In some cases it went to projects already in the pipeline, but in at least one glaring case, a councilmember who had campaigned against the discretionary spending of her predecessor, had no problem turning around and spending the same money herself.

Voters may recall that in running for election this spring, Third Ward Councilwoman Laurie Feldman criticized the past Council for allocating Council discretionary funds. She specifically criticized the incumbent councilman she was running against for using discretionary funds to buy uniform roll-away trash containers for households in the ward.

In fact, it was this Councilman who was criticized for “buying votes” by his detractors.
But in the thirty days or so that it took for the Council to “mull over” Councilman Beckering’s proposal to return what was left of the funds, Councilwoman Laurie Feldman had spent $74,240 for streetlights along South River Road in her ward.

Do as I say – not as I do – can be Laurie Feldman’s reelection slogan.
Councilwoman Feldman had company from Ninth Ward Councilman Ron Stivinson. He spent $43,000 for lights in his own subdivision of Prairie Haute.

Now both of these Council members could have avoided the appearance that they were trying to “buy votes” as Councilman Beckering said, by the fact that they did so after the election. They could have, but for the fact they used as their “excuse” for spending the money already, that they had, according to another area newspaper, “...talked before the May 8 vote with…constituents about their intention to use the money that way.

In other words, or perhaps in Councilman Beckering’s words, they used the money during the election to buy votes. Just two pots calling the kettle black.