Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Deadbeat Days, Volume 3

When people overwhelmed financially call the Dave Ramsey Show (heard 2-5 weekday afternoons on WOSH) saying they have "no way to pay their bills", Dave always walks them through a priority list of what needs to be paid first.  The first item is invariably the mortgage or rent, so they have somewhere to live--followed by the utilities and then groceries.  You know, the basics.

I'm hoping that someone from the Oshkosh Sawdust Days Committee calls Dave's show one of these days so they can learn Basic Budgeting 101, because once again, they have failed to pay their Special Events Permit fee.  We found that out after members of the Common Council asked City Manager Mark Rohloff about it during their meeting last night.  Rohloff says the bill was due a month ago--and NOBODY from Sawdust Days called him or sent an email warning that the fee would not be paid, or to explain when the City can expect payment.

You would think that given the controversy surrounding Sawdust Days' efforts to get out of paying the event fee--and the stern message sent by a vast majority of Councilmembers that no exemption will be given--that the organizers would have made sure that was the very FIRST bill they paid.  Especially when you consider that without a permit to even hold the event, there is no need to pay for tents, Zydeco acts, Mariachi bands, midway rides and Port-a-Johns.

Now it's easy to understand why Sawdust Days would choose to pay everybody else before the City.  It's because if you don't pay the tent rental guy, or the Zydeco acts, or the Mariachi bands, or the midway operator or the Port-a-John guy, they don't do business with you anymore!  People who make money for a living tend to stay away from deadbeats!

But the City of Oshkosh is not a business--and if City Councillor Tom Pech, Jr hadn't asked about the permit fee non-payment last night, it likely would have flown under the radar until Sawdust Days needed to make its 2014 permit request.  And during the long delay, there could have been emails sent to Councilmembers, letters submitted to the editors and desperate pleas for a waiver made in radio interviews.  Heck, a slate of non-special-event-permit-fee Common Council candidates could challenge the "anti-Sawdust Days" incumbents in the spring elections!  And if they win, they could give the "poor folks" at Sawdust Days a break--while continuing to charge the Pub Crawl, Waterfest, Oktoberfest, Irishfest, the Hmong Soccer Tournament, the Run for the Light, the Downtown Farmers Market, the Mayors Breakfast and the 995 other events hosted by the City of Oshkosh--all of whom have had NO PROBLEM meeting their financial obligations to the taxpayers.

It is time for the Council to put its collective foot down and either demand money from Sawdust Days upfront for its 2014 permit fee--or deny the request and make Menominee Park unavailable to the organizers.  There are other options for them around Oshkosh--like the SunnyView Expo Center or Community Park.  But I highly doubt Winnebago County Parks Director Rob Way, County Executive Mark Harris or any of the non-Oshkosh supervisors on the County Board will take any of this deadbeat crap either.

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