It is amazing how much the opportunity to pass on $50,000 to your friends will inspire an interest in public health. The Cole County Commission did not restrict contact between people to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Boone County restricted movement and hours of bars and restaurants and had fewer deaths from COVID than Cole County even though Boone County has almost 21/2 times the population. Callaway County had a mask mandate as did the entire states of Arkansas and Texas. Then the Cole County Commission got a chance to set up a regional vaccination center. Guess where they chose to place it. The Capital Mall is owned by the Farmer Brothers, big boosters of the Chamber of Commerce. The mall was willing to rent a space for $10,000 per month. I wonder how that compares to rent paid by other occupants of Capital Mall.
The meeting to vote on the lease was closed, thereby blocking discussion and facts to the public. This was perfect for the chamber. They love secrecy. There is not accountability. The chamber hates accountability. Surely a lower price location could have been found. Churches and The Linc have been used. Soon, schools will be on summer vacation and could be used. Lincoln University must have some space since their enrollment is down drastically.
Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman is a faithful follower of the chamber. There can be no doubt that he would make every effort to help the Capital Mall. A few weeks ago, Kermit Miller on KRCG said he was told by mall officials that if the mall was to survive, it would have to diversify. This $50,000 is just more of the same. Two percent of each sale at the mall goes to the Farmer Brothers. The last account I had was well over $700,000 per year. They pay no property tax like the rest of us. The property taxes we pay subsidize the mall. It now has a state office building as well as the vaccination center.
They should change the name to The Taxpayers' Mall.