After a great deal of energy, time, and taxpayer money was invested, Dayton City Council reversed its position and blocked a summer mural project from happening, despite a strong outpouring of community support, enthusiasm for my designs at the last city council meeting, and knowledge that the project was already completely funded. Thanks to Penny Hurtt and Cathy Volter for voting for the mural! As for the other four Dayton Kentucky City Council Council members, Bil Burns and Bobby Allen were pretty quiet, Virgil Boruske didn’t want a mural in the first place, and Jerry Gifford was particularly unpleasant. Maybe this outcome will shake things up in the next local election.
I am still a little unclear as to why the project (which, again, was already been completely funded) was voted down, but I’ve got to chalk it up to small town politics and in council member Gifford’s case, pride. Gifford explained to everyone in attendance that despite enjoying the new designs, “If I already voted against something and I change my vote, what does that say about the power of my vote or the power of city council?” I was surprised at Gifford’s willingness to express this view so unapologetically and publicly, as it seems to me that the first priority of those in political office should be to represent their community, not to preserve their power. Later, Gifford conceded that he too was an artist, although maybe not as good.
Working with the community of Dayton, however, was a great pleasure. I still believe the city has a bright future. And this story has a happy ending anyway–the project was since moved upstream to Covington, KY, where we were welcomed with open arms! Read about my new bigger, better project here!
Here are some photos of my visits and research at the Charles Tharp Dayton Kentucky History Museum before the project was cancelled. Charlie Tharp and Barry Baker showed me around and taught me a lot of interesting things about the city.