City Hall Reporters Notebook: Art and interrogation edition
Since she became the presumptive next head of the recreation department, people have been muttering to me that someone needs to ask Cindi Wight what she knew and when she knew it.
Now she’s the actual nominee to replace EJay Bishop, who resigned as recreation superintendent after it was revealed he had spent roughly $47,000 on professional services without the knowledge of the Board of Aldermen.
Wight said this week that she knew Bishop was working on a redesign of the Giorgetti Arena, but not about the end-run he tried to make around the city’s procurement process in doing so.
“The Giorgetti project was his project and he realized we had all kind of gotten burned out by it,” she said. “We knew he was working with an architect. We didn’t know the details of how he was doing it.”
Wight said she was not particularly involved with the details of the budget or the special fund Bishop drew from.
“That wasn’t our end of the operation,” she said. “I’ve got a bit of a learning curve with the budget now. That was what EJay always handled.”
Nor, Wight said, was there an indication of anything covert or untoward in what Bishop was doing with Giorgetti.
“You see aldermen in and out of the office,” she said. “You just assume people knew.”
I wound up seated next to Tracy Carris at the Rutland Economic Development Corp. meeting Thursday, and we had a spirited discussion about the sculptures in Main Street Park.
Carris is president of the board at the Chaffee Art Center and the big concrete jungle-gym sculpture that sits closest to Main Street used to sit outside his house in Poultney.
While I can’t say I’ve heard anyone object to their presence, there is a clear sentiment that perhaps the chosen sculptures could have been better chosen. Carris was the first person I’ve heard try to defend them with something more than the cop-out that they are at least starting conversations.
He also, though, made an argument for their presence regardless of artistic merit. Regardless of your feelings on abstract sculpture, he said, they add to the park. Main Street Park is a more interesting place for their presence, he argued.
Public art is figuring more and more into the local revitalization efforts, between the sculptures in Main Street Park, the murals commissioned by the Downtown Rutland Partnership and the planned sculpture garden along Merchants Row.
Philadelphia’s ubiquitous public art — much of which has raised eyebrows for levels of abstraction similar to those park sculptures — has come up in multiple conversations with DRP executive director Michael Coppinger.
The artistic landscape in the City of Brotherly Love did not just emerge organically. It has been subject to a concerted municipal effort worthy of study if Rutland hopes to emulate their success.
A subject, perhaps, for another column...
Tuesday, the Finance Committee meets at 5 p.m. to kick off the city’s financial audit.
The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce also holds its annual meeting Tuesday. The event at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn features Lt. Gov. Phil Scott as a keynote speaker and the presentation of the chamber’s Business Person of the Year award.
Friday, the city budget comes out and we will get to see what’s in store for the 2014-15 fiscal year.