Mayor’s office won’t say who paid for recent tour of arenas
Somebody paid for the mayor and others to jet around the country looking at other arenas in late October. We’re not sure who it was, because the mayor’s office isn’t saying.
How’s that for more transparency and accountability from the man who promised it would be “unprecedented” on this, the most expensive public works project in Lincoln’s history?
I remember the press conference well. After months of stonewalling about details of the arena project, Mayor Chris Beutler finally invited reporters to ask any question they wanted, to look at any document they wanted. Of course, that lasted approximately one week — when I did something that pissed them off and they temporarily banned city employees from talking to me.
That was business as usual, covering the Beutler regime.
And it continues. On the mayor’s public schedule, Oct. 25-26, it said he was touring arenas in Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Ky., Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Okla. and Wichita, Kan.
I was a little puzzled as to why he’d be touring arenas now — when arena designs are supposed to be 20 to 30 percent complete. In fact, arena supporters and city officials already went on an arena tour a few years ago. What was the point of this one? Perhaps we’ll never know.
And how much did it cost? I don’t know. Mayor’s office hasn’t responded to that question, and neither has arena coordinator Dan Marvin, who also went on the Tour de Arenas.
Marvin did, however, tell me a little bit about the junket. He said the attendees were Beutler, Stan Meradith and Greg Garlock of DLR (the architects), Tom Lorenz (who manages Pershing Center), Marc Boehm (Husker athletics guy), Ben Wrigley of CSL (the company that will market the arena) and Jim Martin of Benham (the Oklahoma company that is program manager for the arena project) and 2015 Visioner Dan Mulheisen.
Marvin said the flight was “privately paid for” but the other expenses “our own responsibility.” Marvin would not say who paid for the trip.
Whenever a mayor and two city contractors and other city vendors get free flights anywhere, it’s a matter of public interest. Was it paid for by one of the companies that has won arena bids? Before or after they won the bid? Was it paid for by DLR? Vision 2015?
All relevant questions — and I would expect answers from a mayor who promised “unprecedented accountability and transparency.”
The head of the state Accountability & Disclosure Commission, Frank Daley, says the flight would be considered a gift, and be reported on Beutler’s annual statement of financial interest. But those aren’t due until April. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait that long to find out.