I am a bit disappointed at the tone the River Cities Gazette has taken with covering this story. The Editor of the Gazette, Mr. Tom Curtis never contacted me prior to penning his editorial -- I imagine he thought he had all the information he needed from the Council meeting -- but his story suggests that he didn't have all the facts.
I was contacted by Theo over the weekend and asked via email why movie night was moving back to All Angels (a little surprising he had to ask since he wrote the Neighbors article criticizing it as a City sponsored event). Since the story is still incomplete, I am going to post my response to Theo in its entirety.
In 2007 and 2008, we
were holding movie nights at All Angels. We moved it to the Circle because
we thought it would be a fun thing to do, and to create a greater sense of
community by broadening it just beyond the Church and Academy
I had first suggested
moving it to the Circle in 2008 (before I was even on the Council). We
talked to Jim Borgmann and he was very supportive, given that the City has been
trying to do things to support businesses downtown for a long time. After
the first month, Chief Dilling (sp??) said he did not have it in his budget to
have officers at movie night and we would have to pay for police to assist
people in crossing the street. The Church did not have the money so Jim
suggested we ask Council to reimburse us for the police support, which it turns
out is cheaper than having the City simply pay officers directly, because it’s
considered a private event instead of
The idea to move movie
night to the Circle came from my first run for Council in 2005. Residents
told me that the City does not provide activities for middle school aged kids
and suggested that we renew the movie night on the Circle from years ago.
The City has taken the position since 2005 that it does not have the funds to
run a movie night, a position I find believable now that I have sat through four
budget cycles. Essentially, All Angels was partnering with the City to
provide a service to everyone that the City could not afford to provide on its
own without making a more significant investment. All Angels provided the
equipment and volunteers to put the event on, and the City granted the permits
and reimbursed for the traffic control. For four years, it was a win/win
arrangement that created a lot of smiles and fond memories on the
The Movie Night
committee decided to stop hosting the event on the Circle and move it back to
All Angels in light of the concerns voiced by some of the residents.
They’re committed to the event, but not at the cost of putting the Church, the
City or the Council in a compromising position. The cost to the City,
together with the negative publicity made it unrealistic to continue on the
Circle. The Movie Night fan base has grown over the years, and the
committee is optimistic that the audience will follow the move back to
When Ms. Owens spoke
at Council, it wasn’t the first time I had heard the baseless allegation that the
City was funding movie night because of my position as Councilwoman. To
set the record straight, the City has been subsidizing Movie Night since before
I was elected to Council. Since I have been elected, I have taken every
opportunity to make clear my relationship with All Angels and have always sought
to recuse myself.
All the same, I agree
with Mr. Seiden. The City has done nothing wrong by reimbursing the
Church, who is providing a service to the City, for police support.
Dedicated volunteers from All Angels Church and Academy (including my husband Bill Tallman and I) have been the month-in-month-out "worker bees" behind Movie Night since the beginning. We do not plan to stop doing it as it is something we can enjoy as a community. However, we also take our community responsibility seriously and so we moved swiftly to protect the community's interests.
It is disappointing (and really unfair to the hardworking volunteers behind the program) when the same news outlet whose reporting precipitated the move in the first place, now publicly criticizes those volunteers for "taking away" movie night from the community. The volunteers did not create this problem, they are just doing their best to deal with it.
The same newspaper had the Mayor joining in the chorus of criticism:
"I am disappointed that it is not being held on the Circle," said Mayor Zavier Garcia who expressed dismay the location was being moved. "I would love for it to continue being held on the Circle as a community event, which is what we as a Council voted unanimously to support."
The only thing that has changed with movie night is the location. It is still free and open to all. We are inviting the community to our property over on Ludlam -- the same location as the popularly-attended Saturday Farmer's Market -- to enjoy the movies on the third Friday.
The bottom line is, the show will go on! I hope to see you at Movie Night on December 21, 2012 at 1801 Ludlam Road at 7 p.m. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and a few dollars for the concession stand - I might even make home made Hot Chocolate if it is a bit nippy.
p.s. Since nobody on the Council has said it, to the volunteers of All Angels I would say:
"While the Council is saddened by the decision to relocate Movie Night, we recognize and sincerely appreciate all of your effort over the years to make this program happen and keep it going. We trust that you are making this move based on what you believe are the best interests of the community, and we're hopeful that we can quickly resolve any outstanding issues so that the program can return to the Circle in the near future."