Scene in Passing: Stuff and nonsense still OPM in disguise |

Scene in Passing: Stuff and nonsense still OPM in disguise

John Barrette

Back in the day, before terms such as economic development and redevelopment were iconic repositories of the public-private partnership wisdom, government was stingy on occasion.

It took a wicked recession and slow recovery to remind folks of such times, though it’s mostly just raucous anti-spending populists who like stingy government now. Economic development and redevelopment continue to be in vogue as concepts in the modern lexicon despite little money to fuel such gibberish into fruition. The bet here is you think that word gibberish signals a raucous populist writes this.

Hardly. But a wordsmith who enjoys precise and sometimes even big words — yet harbors horror in his heart for imponderable stuff and nonsense — poses this question: what do these words really mean? Economic development is a two-word phrase with eight syllables; redevelopment is a five-syllable monstrosity posing as one word. Here’s a rubber-meets-the-road translation: they mean “other people’s money.”

In the old days, OPM stood for big people and big money in government and business; that still applies. But big dollars or small, it makes people ponder. So mixed feelings ebbed and flowed when the Carson City Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee this week carved up a paltry $65,000 of OPM for events several sponsors said would put heads in beds, imbibers in bars and those with a bent for gustatory delights in eateries around town.

The largest portion, $10,000, goes to city government’s Nevada 150 Fair project; the rest is for various events put on by social services agencies to raise money or citizens doing cultural or tourist attraction events such as car shows, music events, ballet performances and the like. Fairs are fun; so are cars, and culture is a favorite in these parts.

But it’s still about other people’s money. To be sure, good events help the community. But the funding standard must be bringing measurable money in the door for local merchants. Few seeking the money could cite hard data on that score.

Joel Dunn, Carson City’s Convention & Visitors Bureau director, appeared after those seeking money had testified. Lori Bagwell, RACC panel chairwoman, joshed about him getting out his check book to help. The $65,000 available had attracted almost double that amount in requests. Dunn, a believer in such development ideas, said the bureau’s check book isn’t available to help. He said he can and will help with marketing events.

In the end, of course, some event sponsors got nothing and some got a little. But all of them were told to find sponsorship funds because a few years of startup seed money won’t continue past those few years. Is stingy back?

We’ll see as the years ago by.