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Fourth Ward candidates tackle economics and visioning

Saturday, February 13, 2010 | 5:31 p.m. CST; updated 3:45 p.m. CST, Monday, February 15, 2010
Sarah Read, candidate of the Fourth Ward City Council, answers a question for Herbert K. Tillema at Stamper Commons on the Stephens College campus on Friday.

COLUMBIA – All four Fourth Ward Columbia City Council candidates discussed business incentives and development on Friday afternoon. Only three were able to discuss the visioning process.

In the basement of Stamper Commons on the Stephens College campus, candidates Tracy Greever-Rice, Sarah Read, Rick Buford and Daryl Dudley answered questions during a forum held by the Columbia Muleskinners.

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The four candidates expressed interest in offering incentives to businesses thinking about setting up shop in Columbia. Buford and Dudley both said that they favor incentives such as tax abatements and that Columbia needs to focus on drawing in businesses.

“If we’re going to remain competitive,” Buford said, “we’re going to have to (offer incentives).”

Greever-Rice was less enthusiastic although still in favor of incentives. She said that tax abatements or cash offerings are only a few of the many tools that the city has at its disposal and that the long- and short-term consequences have to be weighed carefully.

Read was even more skeptical of offering incentives.

“I don’t think they should be used unless it’s a truly catalytic project,” Read said.

She said she would like the city to use micro credit and promote shovel-ready sites along with Columbia’s quality of life. Micro credit programs extend loans to poorer groups or individuals to spur entrepreneurship, according to Microcreditsummit.org.

Greever-Rice, a member of the Visioning Commission, and Read, who prepared a draft Visioning Implementation Report when contracted by the city, both said they thought that over 800 people getting involved with the visioning process was one of it’s strengths.

Buford disagreed.

“Eight hundred is not a successful snapshot,” Buford said. “I don’t believe the present visioning report, as it sits, is as representative of the community.”

Dudley admitted that he was not familiar with the visioning process and was embarrassed to say so.

Members of the audience had mixed reactions to the candidates. Truman Storvick, a professor emeritus at MU, thought the candidates’ answers were vague.

“You never get specifics with these candidates,” Storvick said. "It’s pretty general politics.”

Kay Callison, a semi-retired freelance editor and writer, thought that two of the candidates stood out from the pack.

“To me, the race is between Sarah Read and Tracy Greever-Rice because of their credentials,” Callison said.


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Comments

Richard Green February 14, 2010 | 10:16 p.m.

800 people telling all of us what our city should look like in the future? Kinda weak. However, the report will probably be another dusk collecting piece on some shelf.

(Report Comment)
Toni Messina February 19, 2010 | 9:35 a.m.

I regret that I'm a bit late responding to Mr.
Green's comment. Columbia's community visioning process was widely publicized, open to anyone who wished to participate and captured more than 1,500 citizen ideas in workshops, meetings, through surveys and on comment cards over a period of many months. Many of these individuals brought with them concerns and thoughts expressed by folks they know. Far from collecting dust on a shelf, the vision plan is being implemented by government officials and others...it is a community initiative. And the process continues...progress is continually monitored by the Vision Commission, and the plan will be periodically revised. The Missourian thoroughly covered this process and made vision materials available online. You also may visit www.GoColumbiaMo.com for more information. Just click on the "community visioning" button. Toni Messina, City of Columbia

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin February 19, 2010 | 3:24 p.m.

Sadly, the Columbia Vision Commission has been none too happy about the way City Staff have handled their report, and they've made their feelings known to the council directly.

Here are some details:

VISION COMMISSION: Pans council candidate's report
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/2010/01...

VISIONING STINK: Memo spikes council candidate contract controversy
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/2010/02...

As a person who has sat on several city commissions, including chairing the City of Columbia Finance Commission, I think the idea of a citizen commission is laudable.

But in Columbia, the practice is deeply flawed.

Each commission has a "Staff liaison," ostensibly there to facilitate communication with the city council. But all too often, the staff liaison tries to drive the discussion, or push the commission toward a pre-ordained or pre-desired outcome.

Three things generally happen when staffers try to drive debate on city commissions. 1) The commission goes along with the staff recommendation; 2) The commission ignores the staff recommendation; or 3) Commissioners mutiny, go around the staffers, and further widen the already large rift that exists between Columbia's citizens and the department heads who run City Hall.

That's largely what's happened with the Columbia Vision Commission, and started TARRIF -- Citizens for Timely and Responsible Road Infrastructure Financing -- a few years ago.

(Report Comment)
Rick Buford February 23, 2010 | 11:34 p.m.

Ms Read's and Ms Greever-Rice's issues with each other and the visioning process aside, I stand by my comment that I do not believe the Vision report is truly indicative of the population. I applaud the effort as well as the 1500 people that have contributed to it. However, there are many more people in this community who are *not* involved in the day to day politics of Columbia. Just because these folks do not actively participate in these types of projects does not reduce their value to the community as hard-working, tax-paying citizens.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance February 24, 2010 | 1:42 a.m.

Democracy is about showing up. With 10-15% voter turnout and 1000 in Visioning. I'm sorry but why let the apathetic dictate policy? You think the apathetic is gonna vote for you Rick? Here's the sad truth, you are running in the 4th ward, probably the most progressive and involved ward in the city. By diminishing the visioning process, you pretty much tanked your candidacy, enjoy your 5%.

(Report Comment)
Rick Buford February 28, 2010 | 6:14 p.m.

@Tim
You may be under the mistaken impression that I will give one inch on a position just because some special interest group says they'll support me if I do.

If you'd like to debate the merits of the issue, I'd be happy to discuss it. I have about four different methods of contact available for precisely that purpose.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 1, 2010 | 10:05 a.m.

Tim, democracy is also about voting, but you're not registered to vote in Boone County according to the county clerk's website. Are you a Columbia or Boone County resident?

(Report Comment)

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