Sunday, May 10, 2009

This Is "Leadership"?

As part of the seemingly endless brouhaha over the W.H. Lyon Fairgounds here in the current neighborhood, the local rag today publishes an interesting article, "Fairgrounds for sale? County looks for options"...well, interesting if one reads between the lines.

In a nutshell: The Fairgounds, that is to say the Sioux Empire Fair Association, has for some time been bleeding money, occasionally being propped up by Minnehaha County. Earlier this year it was discovered that a bookkeeper had been embezzling, big time. So now, the horse having successfully evacuated the barn, much hue and cry is taking place--new management, audits, county commissioners pontificating, the whole schmeer--including (and this is the between-the-lines part) the "future" of the Sioux Empire Fair, held annually at the Fairgrounds, and of the property itself.

Ah. The property.

According to the local rag,
    The commission also is seeking a legal opinion whether the conditions of Winona Lyon's bequest of the fairgrounds to the county in 1938 would allow the county to ever sell the land or devote a portion of it to long-term economic development, like a hotel or convention center.

    That opinion, commissioners say, won't come before the June 1 deadline. But a short-term contract would allow the county to begin the process of selling or developing the land soon.

    Already, one potential suitor for the land has made its interest known: Sweetman Construction, owners of a nearby quarry.
The Sweetman family, the local rag says, contributed money to the campaigns of four of the current members of the county commission, but I'm sure that's neither here nor there.

Later in the article, the local rag repeats what has always been said of the history of the Fairgrounds, viz., Winona Lyon donated the land to be used "as a fairground, and if the county broke faith with that the gift would revert to the family heirs," according to the article.

So now it appears that the county is busy spending taxpayer money to seek "a legal opinion" on how they can undercut Winona Lyon's intent and sell the land out from under her heirs, of which at least one still lives in the area. The article implies there are others.

This smells of a land grab, does it not?

Frankly, I find it disgusting that my county commissioners are wasting my tax dollars looking for
"legal" ways to steal the fairgrounds property from the Lyon heirs. I have no doubt in the world that they will find their loophole, for they are in the long habit of always getting their way, there is a world of difference between what we can do and what we should do.

If the county is unwilling to support the fair, it seems only right that they should follow the expressed wishes of the citizen who generously deeded the land for fairgoers to enjoy and allow the property to revert to her heirs. That's the right thing to do, even though it won't fatten the county's coffers.

I doubt that the county commission possesses the moral fiber to do the right thing, especially if it means waving goodbye to dollars. That would require a measure of leadership that has long been noticeably absent in that august body.

Official prediction: The county's lawyer will ingeniously discover a loophole through which the commission may slither, and they will make unseemly haste to do just that.

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