It’s difficult to be a leader; easier to play blame game

Mike Anthony

Mike Anthony

By MIKE ANTHONY

Crestwood Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel recently expressed concern when he learned the city had received only one response to its request for proposals for a $2.87 million annual-appropriation note — and that was after the bid deadline was extended.

“I have to admit my concern is that only one bank out of 10 responded to us,” Mr. Pickel said at the Oct. 24 Board of Aldermen meeting. “To me, that seems like there was a big, red flag …”

Because the city had not received any bids on its debt refinancing by Oct. 18 — the original deadline for bids to be submitted — City Administrator Frank Myers told aldermen the city changed the deadline to Oct. 24.

That’s odd because former Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood asked city officials Oct. 10 about this very issue.

“… What if no bank buys the note? What happens then?” he asked.

Mr. Myers replied, “We have been assured that’s not going to be the case.”

Yet at the board’s Oct. 24 meeting, the city’s financial adviser, Carl Ramey of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., told aldermen a number of factors led to one bank submitting a bid, including some banks already meeting tax-exempt coverage for the year and others being wary of a deal based on the city’s past financial history.

Yet at the Oct. 24 meeting, Mayor Roy Robinson, as usual, was quick to assess blame elsewhere — in this case, Mr. Trueblood and this newspaper — for the city receiving just one bid. It’s a lot easier to blame someone else than to ask the real question: Why did city officials wait so long to take steps to address the city’s indebtedness, especially when they knew for a full year the city’s agreement with Southwest Bank would expire Oct. 31?

Voters last April approved Proposition S, a 20-cent tax-rate increase to address the city’s indebtedness. With that guaranteed revenue stream in hand, Crestwood officials immediately should have started the process to address the issue.

Instead, they waited until the last minute, and the Board of Aldermen had no choice but to accept the only bid that was submitted — one with an interest rate of 5.44 percent.

As we’ve said before, the general obligation bond issue that voters rejected in April 2005 was a far superior proposal.

It’s no secret that playing the blame game is not leadership, but we’re still waiting for Mr. Robinson to lead instead of taking the easy way out. If he is looking to blame someone, he should start at the top — himself.