So far, Noel Radomski has not held his cards to close to his chest when criticizing the mayor. Nor should he, considering the overwhelming odds that Mayor Dave will win re-election next Spring. To have a chance at beating a popular incumbent, especially in a non-partisan race, a challenger must get voters attention and make clear the shortcomings of the his opponent well-known.
Take the Overture Center, for instance. Yesterday, Radomski outlined his idea for making the arts establishment profitable, in light of its recent near-bankruptcy and takeover by the city.
First off, Radomski believes the city should not be involved in the maintenance and running of the center. He is concerned that the Overture needs specifically-trained employees, and that staffing it with city workers from other departments denies patrons the optimum experience. Of particular concern is that Overture positions would be filled entirely through the union "bumping" process, in which city workers with seniority can request to be transferred to the best city jobs available.
Radomski recognizes he is treading in dangerous water by advocating a private workforce replace AFSCME workers, however, he emphasizes that his plan would not entail the laying off of any city workers. It simply would not open up Overture jobs to employees in other city agencies. "I am not anti-union," he says.
He sees the city's role mainly as a provider of capital costs, rather than operational ones.
Perhaps more fundamental to Radomski's vision of the Overture is his belief that the current programming lacks the diversity needed to attract a broad range of customers. "We need spoken word, we need hip-hop," he says, pointing to the relatively classical bent of the Center's schedule, including opera, ballet and symphony.
Rodomkski was also incredulous that the Overture Center had yet to submit a budget to the public. "Do you know of any other city department that doesn't have a budget," he asks.
He proposes splitting the center into different sections, each of which would have its own budget and plan its own means of bringing in revenue. For instance, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) would be independently run, and would devise its plans relatively independent of the Center.
Today the Cap Times published a letter from the theater employees union treasurer who criticized Overture management for blaming its employees for high-costs.
What do you think?