Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Good bye, Ladyman's

Sunday was the last day of business for Ladyman's Cafe, which has operated in Bloomington for decades and had a loyal following. Steve Higgs, editor of the Bloomington Alternative, covered the Ladyman's story extensively. Here are links to articles from November 5, October 7, September 23 (first article), September 23 (second article), September 10, and August 27. The circumstances surrounding Ladyman's going out of business could be an issue in the 2007 city elections.

Don Moore made a good point on AM 1370 this past Friday, a point that was reinforced by the front-page article in Sunday's Herald-Times. Finelight is counting on the City of Bloomington to spend a large amount of money to help build a parking garage. Without the garage, there may be no new corporate headquarters for Finelight. Should city government be offering to help with such projects if collateral damage will include the loss of what many consider to be a Bloomington institution?

This is not to say that it was absolutely essential for Ladyman's to stay open. Some of the requests that Ladyman's owner Dana Reynolds proposed were not reasonable. John Fernandez told the Herald-Times that Reynolds "asked that Finelight move her stuff and store it for two years, then bring it back to the new building." (This is a direct quote from the article, but is a paraphrase of what Fernandez said.) Finelight is certainly under no obligation to take care of Ladyman's equipment for two years and move it twice. Ladyman's should also not expect to pay below-market rent under a new landlord. (Note: there is some dispute over whether Ladyman's was paying below-market rent.)

The Herald-Times complained in their December 10 editorial that the decision-making process on whether or not to build a $4.25 million parking garage is moving too slowly. I think Mayor Kruzan is taking the right approach in making sure such a structure is needed, if the city plans to spend taxpayer dollars building it. Fiscal prudence is never a bad policy.

If the parking garage goes through, conservatives have the opportunity to make a point for a market-based alternative: no corporate welfare, especially if that corporate welfare results in small business being removed from downtown. We want business to come to Bloomington and we will try to remove roadblocks to locating here but you will not get a subsidy from government to do so. I hope some of the City Council candidates on the Republican side articulate this economic libertarianism in the 2007 city elections.

Following are some interesting statements made by local Democrats on an Internet forum:

Don Moore wrote:
Sturbaum's piece was what one could expect from a confirmed social Darwinist. Such crocodile tears!

He showed totally unable to understand that government was involved in the situation and that the Finelight project doesn't exist without the government involvement. What was happening to Ladyman's was not analogous to the places he mentioned in the least.

He also fails to understand that change is not always for the best in his celebration of the closing and new beginnings. From some one who moans loudly about every damned old building that in itself is very telling.
Don Moore wrote:
And the values they use for governing must be compatible with those they used for campaigning. Sturbaum on this issue (and others) has employed the values of his defeated foes in the general and primary elections.

with the destruction of Ladyman's, i really don't want to here certain people ever talk positively about "preserving community character" again. They had a chance to act accroding to this value and chose not to. Fine, but let's not pretend that preserving community character is one's governingvalue.
Don Moore wrote:
What was with Fernandez's blather that Ladyman's rent was being subsidized over the years. How much more from what she was paying does he think one could get for a semirunned down building? Does he think that the speicalized shops in the same vicinity are paying what he considers market rate? If he doesn't get the gifts from the city and feds for his project, he'll be begging someone to pay what Ladyman's is paying for the existing property.
Don Moore wrote:
The only things that have ever been realistic to John Fernandez are those that represent his getting 100% his way. Finelight moving to Chicago would have one significant benefit.
"T. Jefferson" wrote:
Fernandez's comments about Ladymann's rent are unacceptable for the standards of any decent community and speak clearly about his poor character.
Greg Travis wrote:
I think it means for the city's politicians to act politically. Starting with the Mayor and Democrats on City Council.

There should have been a position translated to FL last spring: "if you want us to build you your garage, fine. But you are going to have to do something for us in return. We suggest it include letting Ladyman's stay in a way, and cost, that does not destroy the current viability of their business plan."
Greg Travis wrote:
There are, as far as I know, only two individuals who have ever claimed Ladyman's rent was "subsidized." One was Jim Regester, who told them that after he sold the building to FineLight. And the other was John Fernandez, who told the HT that.

Don Moore is the husband of Bloomington City Clerk. Greg Travis is the husband of County Council member (and president) Sophia Travis. It looks like there might be some discontent within the Democratic Party on the issue of Finelight and Ladyman's.