talk about telling the truth

A few days have passed since the Kansas kerfuffle but the underlying problem persists. The truth, in my view, is that the city had no real intention of going local on this job despite Mayor and Council being fervent shop local proponents. It’s easier to shop local for groceries and gas than for a state of the art city management information system and website. I get that. It would not have been easy and it would have been more expensive. It would have required a team of business people and city people to get the job done. And the truth is that’s not how city hall does its shopping. It chose a firm in Kansas with over one hundred employees who do nothing but build municipal sites. They are most certainly experts at what they do. And they are well known in municipal government circles.

On Thursday, a delegation of us designer/printer types went to City Hall at Mayor Cooper’s invitation to review the matter. I’ll tell you quite honestly, I’m not sure council was terribly jazzed about this interpretation of the truth. Our comment that the RFP wasn’t really written to allow for anything but a Kansas style solution probably wasn’t that great to hear about either, if you ask me.

Again, truthfully, a shop local policy, or better yet, a buy local policy is not part of the city’s process unless the price is right. Which means it’s not really about local at all even if as individuals residents and heads of households, we understand the powerful economic momentum of spending local money locally over and over and over again.

Ironically, we raised the money to pay the Kansas firm. You and I. Business owners and property taxpayers. That money will now leave Salmon Arm. We had to earn a fair amount of it to free up $28,000 of it for taxes. It’s not coming back. Not in volunteer hours or paper clips or local wages or hot lattes or donations to the food bank. Not a dime.

What’s the big deal about spending $28,000 of a $25 million budget out of town? No biggie right? There’s plenty more to spend. That’s a very large part of what the city does afterall, issue RFPs, review RFPs, award RFPs. Repeat. And they always ask locals to try. Trouble is, we try but we don’t know how often we win or how loud the sucking sound is when the cash funnels out of town for good. Even “saving” money has a cost when it means spending money out of town.

My final point – that $28,000 might not have been much in the city’s scheme of things but for us creative types, it’s probably the biggest job to cross our paths in the last few years. Hard to watch it fly off to Kansas. No matter which way or how fast you try to spin it.

So, the truth is, we could have done it. It would have been great. It would have cost more money and taken more time. But as Einstein himself was famous for saying, not all that can be counted counts and not all that counts can be counted.

There’s work to do. We’ll keep doing it. Join us if you think our city (and while we’re at it our regional district) needs reminding that there’s no place like home. We need a buy local policy – not a shop local mockery. Ask our Mayor and Council to study how many of our tax dollars are re-circulated on goods and services purchased from Salmon Arm businesses and what the real truth of saving money by shopping out of town really costs us. Let us know how you make out. It’s time we talked.

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One Response

  1. Albert was also known for having said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.

    So, all we are saying, is give us a chance. Didn’t John Lennon say something like that?

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