By Andrew J. Crnic
I feel that part of my task as a weekly columnist in this paper is to keep everyone abreast of current events happening throughout Omaha as well as the surrounding communities. Because of that, I am compelled to shed some light on a fascinating story I read in last Friday’s edition of an Omaha daily newspaper.
The headline of the story is nothing spectacular, but if I only read the stories with knock-your-socks-off headlines, I would never read the paper, and thus be uninformed.
The headline read: "Gift offered to keep pool open raises eyebrows." See, nothing outlandish, but it’s the content of the story that elicits my commentary on the subject. I’ll have to brief you on the particulars before I dive into my observations.
According to the story, Ron Bergeron, the man who owns the Playhouse Performing Arts Theater in Glenwood, Iowa, wants to give the city somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 to make sure the city pool will be open this summer.
Apparently, the pool was closed last summer due to budget restrictions until a local businessman solicited enough private donations to open up the pool. Ultimately, the City Council of Glenwood will decide whether or not to accept the money, which is only about half of the $30,000 needed to operate and staff the pool.
Bergeron really wants to give back to the community he loves, according to the story, but another local Glenwood businessman, Mike Malone, vehemently opposes the city accepting Bergeron’s money. He believes Bergeron is trying to gain favor with the City Council, which he doesn’t need to do.
Bergeron has already been taken to court by Mills County because it thought he wasn’t in compliance with an ordinance limiting sexually oriented businesses. However, the judge ruled in Bergeron’s favor. End of story. Case closed.
Now, the City Council must ask itself, "Self, is it fair to punish the children, who we always seem to care so deeply about, for the short-comings of the budget?"
I believe the answer is no. Sure it would be a little hypocritical for the council to take money from the same fella who it took to court, attempting to run him out of town. But if no other viable option exists, don’t they owe it to the city to accept that money? I personally think it would be ridiculously humorous if Mr. Bergeron presented the money to the city in only denominations of one! But who am I kidding? The "performers" are the people who get paid in ones, not the man getting the twenties at the door. (If you’ve been there, maybe you’re saying it doesn’t cost twenty to get in. But I don’t know what it costs. I haven’t been there as of yet. Give me a break. It’s not exactly a "Performing Arts Theater" either.)
Anyhow, if the city won’t take his money, that’s fine with me. If it were up to me, I’d take it in a heartbeat, especially in times of tight budgets.
But I can also provide another option to compile the needed funds. If those opposed to the city accepting the money take five minutes and come down off their high horses, they could "perform" to raise the money.
Nevertheless, they’d have nothing on the girls that work at the Theater (so I’ve been told).