Rustlers!

Dear Readers,
Does the thought of the Crossroads Farmers Market make you hungry? It makes the city council hungry, judging by the background sounds when the market directors made a pitch for grant funds March 7.
Cable tv or internet stream watchers at home – or in Your Gilbert’s case a monastic-like cell furnished only with a television, a yoga mat, and a few cases of vodka – were entertained by the faint sounds of a bag of something crunchy being opened and consumed. Your Gilbert lives for such small Lake Woebegon-type moments – and duly reports them in the hopes that someone will offer us our own radio show.
The
[rustle, rustle, munch, munch, munch] sounds were nowhere near as annoying as how long the council dragged out the Crossroads Farmers Market discussion.


Apparently, bright-eyed young people on a Worthy Mission inspire older people to give them advice, lectures, “useful” anecdotes, or just plain chatter – anything to prolong basking in their wholesomely earnest radiance. Also, apparently, screaming “GET ON WITH IT!” at the tv screen is totally useless, not even as therapy. So, Your Gilbert has purchased via the internet a number of councilmember-shaped pillows to adorn the monastic-like cell – for the sole purpose of therapeutic punching.
The Seasons Round They Go
This is not a good start to the begging season. Begging season, as we keen council watchers know, precedes budget season. Various groups that get city donations come before the council to show how successful they have been thanks to city funding, how vital their mission is, and please sir may we have some more?
The Crossroads Farmers Market brings fresh veggies and fruit to the wholly unfarmlike strip mall at the corner of University and New Hampshire Avenues. Many of the customers are from nearby low-income neighborhoods. The market has a number of outreach programs for those neighborhoods, too.
The market co-directors and their outreach director asked the city for a larger grant than last year because they want to hire another outreach director. They asked for $20,000 from the city’s Large Grant budget. Last year they were granted $10,000.
Butter In Vain
They popped the question after considerable buttering up, of course, but the butter slid right off councilmember Colleen Clay. She warned that the market is “unlikely to get that amount.”
She told them that the grant they requested is not a sustainable investment, which is what the city prefers to fund. Any observer of the city council grant process would know this. As with other grantees the city provides significant money at the beginning, but expects them to become self-sustaining. Grants should decrease every year, not increase, she said.
Likewise, councilmember Dan Robinson told the market directors “you are pushing the envelope.” Then, with a fatherly smile, he launched into a helpful anecdote – dodging the mayor’s under-the-podium kicks, the mayor being the only one in the room who felt an urgency to GET ON WITH IT!
Councilmember Terry Seamens disclosed that he is a member of the market’s board. No surprise then, that he advocated full funding.
When the mayor finally, finally polled the council, councilmember Clay said she’d go for $10,000, councilmember Reuben Snipper raised it to 15,000, and Seamen’s held to $20,000.
Collision Ahead
The entire exercise was for the city manager’s sake, by the way. She needed to gauge the council’s support level for the request.
In the end the council told the city manager that they’d like to go for $15,000 and they thought they could find another $5000 in other funds somewhere.
Of course what they’d LIKE to do is on a head-on collision course with the budget, scheduled for April and May (which is why we’ve stocked up on the vodka). We bet you, Dear Readers, that we will hear the city manager at that time remind the council that they told her they want $15,000 set aside for the farmers market but that means cutting out (insert some vital service or employee position here).

– Gilbert
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About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.