At the risk of being a tad insensitive, I am going to posit a question about the propriety of the decision to allot the proceeds of the Arnold Days Police Department Car Show, held on September 21, to the family of deceased council member Randy Crisler.
This fundraiser, in its 11th year, is held at Arnold City Park during Arnold Days each year. Normally, proceeds go to the police department’s K-9 program and to equipment purchases. But this year, Chief Bob Shockey announced at the city council meeting on September 5, the day after Crisler’s death, that the proceeds would instead go to his family. Crisler is survived by his wife, Nancy, and three children – a 21-year-old daughter, a 19-year-old stepson and a 13-year-old daughter.
It is not clear to me who made the decision to change the fundraiser, other than show “organizers.” Shockey did not ask about changing the beneficiary of the car show at the meeting; he announced that the decision had been made. One has to assume he was involved. Councilman Butch Cooley is listed on flyers as the point of contact for the show. In the realm of city politics, Crisler, Cooley, and Shockey were allies with each other and with mayor Ron Counts.
The car show is a high-profile event with plenty of free publicity and a prominent location that occupies a significant portion of Arnold Park, where Arnold Days takes place. Is it right that this fundraiser, which previously provided ostensible benefits to the city as a whole, be redirected to the family of one politically connected individual? While his death is quite unfortunate, there are plenty of unfortunate cases in the area that could benefit from this fundraiser, if we’re going to direct the proceeds to individuals. If so, who else would make the cut?
For example, councilwoman Cricky Lang died in February. She is survived by a husband and two children – both minors – ages 15 and 7. The city did not hold any fundraisers for her. In the last part of her time in office, she tended to vote against the Counts-Shockey regime. Similarly, while the city sprang for $77 worth of flowers for the Crisler family (bottom of p. 7 here),
I find no such purchase in the city’s general warrants for the Lang family in February (here and here). I could have missed it, I suppose. ($75 was donated to the Christine Lang Memorial Fund). I hope these decisions are not made on the basis of politics. Judging by the number of fundraisers for Crisler being held by various entities (four), there is probably some financial need. But I don’t think that’s a justification in this instance.
Furthermore, how will the police department make up for the loss of the money it normally receives from this car show? Will a supplemental request be made for city (taxpayer) funds?
The car show is, for all intents and purposes, a city-sponsored event. If the proceeds from the show are going to be directed to non-public beneficiaries, such a decision should be made publicly after sufficient consideration. I maintain that this particular decision was not appropriate.
If you think this makes me an old meanie, let me know in the comments.