Monday, August 22, 2011

Tonight's the Night: Meet Your Future with CBID and Mayors

I'm going to hit the subject again because it is so important. Make sure you get to the Square Room by 5:00. That will begin the 45 minute meet and greet with the staff and board of the CBID, followed by the monthly board meeting at 5:45. This is a rare opportunity for those of us who can't come to the regular middle-of-the-day meetings. If enough of us attend they will probably do this again. If I have to personally eat each and every "light appetizer" it probably won't be repeated.

The board meeting ends in time for everyone to attend the mayoral debate. Meet your future. This meeting promises to be the debate or forum most focused on downtown. Come to both meetings prepared with your questions.
For those of you who may wonder who or what this CBID business is, you could follow the link above (and sign up for e-mail updates). Or you can keep reading, though I'm not your best source of information on the topic, I'll explain a bit:
The Central Business Improvement District was created in 1993 to improve life in downtown Knoxville. While they can't get all the credit, any honest comparison of the state of the city in 1993 versus the state of the city in 2011 suggests that they are doing something very, very well. In a nut-shell, they make decisions about the disbursement of funds for improvements downtown.
The funding comes from a special assessment (IE tax. I know, I just lost all the Republican readers) on downtown businesses and residents. The money most often goes to improving facades on buildings in which developers have agreed to do the work required to make the building usable. The idea is that downtown is improved regardless of the success or failure of the new venture because the buildings are more attractive and stable.
I am happy we have such an organization, though I've heard all the views of the detractors. I don't mind paying extra taxes when the city benefits and I think that is the case in this instance. My only complaint is that the meetings are all held during daytime hours when most downtown residents are working. Many of us can't leave work or simply don't work downtown, leaving us out of the loop of the decision-making.
I think the board heard that concern and they have responded in this small way. Please, please, please support the gesture. Be there. Introduce yourself. Tell them if you'd like to have more meetings scheduled in the evening. What about a quarterly meeting in the evening? There is at least one residential representative on the board (currently Melissa Everett according to this list - oddly the CBID site doesn't name the board), wouldn't it be nice if our representative held at least quarterly evening meetings to update us on the expenditures of our money and the current issues in order for us to express our opinions for them to carry back to the board meetings?
So, as I point out often, you have a choice: Urban Guy eats all the hors d'oeuvres and we likely never have another night meeting or we fight for snacks, ask good questions, express our interest in more evening meetings and maybe we get more such events in the future.
As for the mayoral debate/forum at 7:00 at the Crowne Plaza, if you don't see what an opportunity that is and how important the next mayor will be to downtown, then no amount of explaining can solve that problem.

I'll leave you with a video. Just in case any of you had the sad idea that my title refers to a sappy song by Rod Stewart, I'm posting the real inspiration by the inimitable Mr. Neil Young. Enjoy (and I'll see you tonight, right?!?)

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