YOUR SAY: Macon-Bibb government, find another way

Special to The TelegraphJune 10, 2014 

Tonight, the Macon–Bibb County Commission will further deliberate the proposed $158.7 million dollar 2014-2015 budget of Macon Mayor Robert Reichert.

Like Jim Crisp, founding artistic director of Theatre Macon admitted in his May 23 Telegraph submission, I am also sympathetic to the difficult decisions our elected officials must make in the in name of fiscal responsibility. But a line in the sand must be drawn when the effort to rush and conserve exceeds the benefit of greater discernment. This is true in the case of all of the entities on the mayor’s chopping block and especially concerning the historic Douglass Theatre, the Tubman African American Museum and the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

The hits that these venues will take if the current proposed budget passes need to be calculated in the form of human capital as well. We are familiar with the public roles these institutions play in helping Middle Georgians maintain a high quality of life. The events, exhibitions, workshops, youth camps and educational outings they host collectively throughout the year warrant the mayor and the commission to find another way to save. But let us not forget that real people and their professional and financial fates are at stake if these facilities funding is cut.

If the doors of these buildings are shuttered briefly, at length or forever, because of minimal due diligence to find another way to save them, supporters, patrons, guests and presenters lose, but not as bad as those who make it possible to experience what we do when visiting or utilizing these facilities.

This includes people like a Douglass employee who, on occasion, has saved the day by sharing an in-house microphone stand or audio cable with a community group working with children. Or a Tubman worker who sometimes contributes museum gift shop items as door prizes to an organization doing community wide outreach work. Or a Museum of Arts and Sciences employee who donated museum passes last year to a race director in need of a special gift for the winner of his organization’s annual 5K run/walk.

While these favors are done within the scope of their job descriptions and with the clearance and full knowledge of their directors, they are ultimately random acts of goodwill and an extension of what these institutions represent beyond bricks and mortar. And with that said, I urge the mayor and commission to find another way to save, please.

Clarence Thomas Jr., is a resident of Macon.

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