Opinion

Mr. Kaplan, It's just simple math

Sunday, April 19, 2015

More than 100 residents gathered April 8 at the Black River Coliseum for a public meeting concerning the facility's financial situation.

City Manager Heath Kaplan stood in front of those concerned residents, who wanted to hear why he has advocated for cutbacks at the coliseum since he arrived. Instead, he attempted to convince them why his fiscal numbers regarding the coliseum were correct and the numbers reported by the Daily American Republic were wrong.

This seems to happen often at city meetings, where Mr. Kaplan spends as much of his time devising insults for this newspaper and its staff as he does discussing city business.

In this case, Mr. Kaplan created the confusion himself.

Mr. Kaplan admitted Thursday to the coliseum advisory board that when he first came to Poplar Bluff, he mistakenly believed the city's "ledger" figures were the same as the city's audited numbers. The "ledger" figures have been presented by Mr. Kaplan, and former city manager Doug Bagby, as the actual spending for various departments from previous budget years. Audited figures differ from the cash position, and account for different items.

Mr. Kaplan initially used the ledger figures to discuss past years' performance of the coliseum and the DAR followed suit by reporting those numbers.

Instead of simply saying he was using different figures now, Mr. Kaplan turned the conversation into an argument on April 8.

While the public came out to learn about how bad the situation is for the coliseum, to share their own concerns and learn how they can help, Mr. Kaplan used it as another opportunity to take shots at the DAR.

This is not a new tactic.

Mr. Kaplan spent a great deal of time in November explaining why the DAR was wrong to question city spending for computers, phones, etc. when the city still had to pay for repair or replacement costs for city hall.

The DAR reported the cost for a new city hall could be as high as $8 million. Mr. Kaplan argued then that the DAR was wrong and, in fact, it would only be about $5 million.

On Thursday, he told the coliseum advisory committee a new city hall could cost as much as $9.5 million.

Perhaps Mr. Kaplan needs to spend more time looking at the figures he is presenting to the public. The "true" picture or the "simple math," as he likes to refer to it, is not going to make the city's problems go away. Especially when he can't seem to get the numbers right himself.

Daily American

Republic

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