If you do a search on this blog with “Benker” as the search term, you can see all the twists and turns and flip-flops Councilmember Karen Benker has made in regards to the Twin Peaks Mall (especially the “Mall-itics” series). Like other things, I don’t just write this stuff around election time, but it is useful to go back and see what occurred and be reminded of such when you are considering how to vote and who to support.
At the July 28, 2009 Longmont City Council meeting at around the 1:20 mark, Karen Benker said, “we know it’s a dying mall“. What a thoughtless, irresponsible and potentially damaging remark.
I guess Ms. Benker has forgotten about the speakers in front of council, business owners at the mall, nearly in tears. If memory serves, one was literally in tears about the future of the mall, and pleading that council not stall on moving forward with the redevelopment. It wasn’t long after that that Ms. Benker, the swing vote when it came to the mall, swung her stance against the mall. I’m sure her “dying mall” comment went over well with these struggling business owners.
Back in May (’09) I asked “about a year ago you were more positive on the mall situation, something changed and as your support went south, the project stalled. Without using the excuse of the economy (your support fell prior to that), why did your support wane? Was it a shifting interest and prioritization towards Downtown? What has Panattoni done wrong, or differently, to warrant this negative treatment?” I didn’t expect an answer, and didn’t receive one. So I’ll fill in the blanks:
She was wise in the past to be pro-mall for political reasons, something or someone told her to return to her anti-business/developer roots and she shifted her attention to Downtown at the expense of the mall. Then the bad news about FasTracks not exactly living up to its potential. Then the Thistle debacle hapenned, and the general tide and opinion that Downtown (rightfully) needed to take a backseat to our (formerly?) biggest sales tax generator, Twin Peaks Mall.
That, and the upcoming election, how convenient.
Like I said and need to reiterate, Ms. Benker was the swing vote when it came to the mall and its future. It’s good news that Panattoni has found a tenant for the former JC Penneys space and is working with Regal Entertainment for a new theater. But this not because of Ms. Benker and her fellow travelers on council, it is despite them.
There is still much to be done at the mall, and wafflers like Ms. Benker would serve the city better by getting out of the way. And watching what they say.