CORRECTION: The original version of the thumbs down below to Mayor Marian Orr contained two errors that mischaracterized how local landscaper Matt Linger got an $18,000 contract with the city to do work on downtown planters.
The editorial incorrectly said the mayor’s husband contacted Mr. Linger, when the mayor said the opposite is true. Mayor Orr told the WTE Editorial Board last Monday that Jimmy Orr graduated with Mr. Linger, but they hadn’t spoken in more than 30 years. Mayor Orr said that rather than immediately offering him $18,000 to do the work, as the editorial implied, she referred Mr. Linger to the DDA, which rejected the $18,000 proposal for what it said was a lack of funds.
After the mayor learned the DDA wouldn’t pay for the work to be done, she said she called other local businesses to see if they could provide the necessary amount of materials to do the work. She said everyone she spoke with locally told her they didn’t have enough bedding plants on hand, and it would take time to order more. Mayor Orr, who said she refused to use a Colorado company, then decided to hire Mr. Linger to do the work.
The mistakes in describing the events as outlined by the mayor were due to editor error. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle apologizes for the errors.
UP to Cheyenne city officials for putting the owner of the rundown trailer park at 316 Central Ave. on notice they will no longer ignore the ongoing violations there.
This area has been a blighted mess for years, and owner Robert Wink has been given plenty of time to correct the problems. Those include leaking roofs, missing and broken windows, weak interior floorboards, unsuitable plumbing, and missing or damaged skirting on many of the trailers, according to city officials.
If he fails to comply within the 30-day time limit (or even if granted another extension or two) the city must follow through. The health and safety of those living there depend on it.
We also agree with Mayor Marian Orr that it’s important to start the clock now, rather than wait and force people to move out in bad weather. She said the city has been working with officials at the Cheyenne Housing Authority, COMEA House and Family Promise to make sure people aren’t left out on the street.
There’s no question this is a bad situation for all involved. But as bad as it is, to let it continue would be worse.
DOWN to Mayor Orr for the way she handled spending $18,000 of the city’s remaining fiscal year 2019 discretionary funds on downtown planters.
Unlike those who have said they would rather see the money spent on filling potholes, we object to the way the mayor went about this expenditure. (We want potholes fixed, too, but that’s not an issue of money – Mother Nature just hasn’t cooperated).
First, though, a little background. Several years ago, the city handed responsibility for filling the 144 planters to the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority. According to Councilman Jeff White, who serves as liaison to the DDA board, in 2017, the DDA paid a local business $22,000 to do so.
But earlier this year, the DDA used volunteers and $4,000 worth of materials to fill the planters. Why such a drastic cut in spending? Maybe it was the fact the mayor was proposing cutting the city’s allocation to the DDA from $390,000 to $100,000.
After the volunteers were done, Mrs. Orr said she heard criticism that there was no color in the planters and, it seemed to her, the plants were too low because there wasn’t enough soil. She said a local landscaper, Matt Linger, who graduated from high school with her husband, reached out to her through her husband to offer to help, and she referred him to the DDA, which rejected his proposal.
Mrs. Orr said after she called local nurseries and was told they didn’t have enough plants left to fill that many planters, she hired Mr. Linger to redo the work done by the local volunteers. No disrespect intended, the mayor says, it’s just that she felt it wasn’t good enough for the visitors coming for Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Not only does the selection of the landscaper not pass the sniff test, this feels like yet another instance of the mayor saying to the DDA, “Your work’s just not good enough.” We’re tired of this bickering. Mrs. Orr should sit down with DDA staff and discuss how they can work together for the good of the city’s core.
UP to the State Treasurer’s Office and the Wyoming Legislature for saving millions of dollars in fees paid to outside investment managers by bringing more of this work in-house.
Patrick Fleming, the state’s chief investment manager, said in exchange for the $6 million spent this biennium for the internal investment team, the state is on track to save $24 million in fees. As an added bonus, he has been able to attract talent that might not have come to Wyoming otherwise.
The old adage “sometimes you have to spend money to save money” is often true. As long as these folks continue to realize solid returns on the state’s money, this could turn out to be one of the best investments in recent memory.