Thursday, October 2, 2008

PAYING FOR PAQUIN: Steinhaus v. Hindman v. Spence

The recreation program at Paquin Towers is safe for now, but not for long.

An enlightening public e-discussion between former statehouse candidate Sean Spence (D), the Columbia City Council, the Mayor and the City Manager highlighted a rift between the city and the Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) over who's responsible for the program.

"The city of Columbia has been in effect donating the Paquin Tower recreation program and transportation services to the Columbia Housing Authority," Mayor Darwin Hindman emailed Spence, who is trying to raise money for the program's long-term viability. "So far, the Columbia Housing Authority has declined to pay any share of the recreation program costs other than donating the space. Who do you know that runs a residence for the disabled or elderly that doesn't provide recreation or transportation services?"

Hindman's advice to Spence: "I suggest you work on CHA to get them to ante up."But Spence told Hindman that according to CHA director Phil Steinhaus, "when the program was started 38 years ago, it was part of the City's commitment to provide recreational programming...this commitment was made as an incentive for HUD to build Paquin. For 38 years, the residents of Paquin, as well as others in the community, have counted on that program."City council members salvaged most of the program in this year's budget, but 4th Ward councilman Jerry Wade echoed Hindman's concerns in a heated discussion with Steinhaus at a council meeting. "What about Oak Towers?" Wade asked.

"Are they getting anything from the housing authority? I've just never heard of a housing authority not providing recreation and transportation for its residents."


  1. Thank you Mike for the great articles on Paquin Tower and all of your support you have given in helping to save this program. It is much appreciated by all.

    It is as the editor of the Tribune said in one of his great editorials
    on this subject that the participants have "become as a political pawn of sorts" in this Budget year. He was referring to the FY2009 Budget.

    The question concerned citizens are asking now is "how much should the city be held accountable for in the FY2010 Budget being they have fully funded this program with no problems since 1973.

  2. Thanks, Mike, for helping keep the Paquin program issue alive.

    I'd like to point out that at no time have I felt as though anyone involved in these discussions has been less than supportive of the effort to support the program. Mayor Hindman, Phil Steinhaus and the city council and staff all strike me as doing their best to support programs such as this, which mean so much to those in our community with disabilities.

    At times, we have different views about the best way to move forward; but I continue to feel nothing but the spirit of cooperation from all involved.

    In the end, with a lot of work and a little creativity, we'll find solutions that work for our community. I have not doubt that Mayor Hindman, Phil Steinhaus, and countless others will be signficant contributors to the final solutions.

    - sean

  3. Thanks, Mike, for helping to keep the Paquin issue in the public forum.

    I would like to point out that throughout the process of preserving the Paquin recreation program, I've experienced nothing but a cooperative attitude from all involved -- from Phil Steinhaus, Mayor Hindman, members of the City Council, city staff, and so on.

    There may be differences in the way we believe programs for people with disabilities should be supported and preserved, but I feel confident that we will be able to continue , together, moving toward long-term solutions that make sense for our community.

  4. After 38 years, it's time for the CHA to step up. If it takes the city yanking its support to get the CHA to do its job, so be it.

  5. The city has funded this for yes 38 years and as such it was part of their original agreement that they should live up to still and continue to do so in part at least. That is the only right thing to do. In the future there is a fund raising committee being formed to work towards funding issues.
    CHA is Federal in nature and as such their budgeting is alot tighter than the City Of Columbia's as every penny is accounted for clear down to the last pencil.
    The possibility of them funding this type of a program is not in their budget as Phil Steinhaus has said in the past and with H.U.D.'s possible budget cuts across the entire public housing spectrum of their nation wide responsibilities alot of their own budgeting is in question.
    The best solution is going to be this new fund raising committee being formed and the City,CHA and this committee working conjointly together to make this program work in the long run of the future it is just the top officials sitting down together and working out the long run financial responsibilities of each group.
    I will ask that even though this is not my Blog that people responding to this thread use your real name so that all citizens of Columbia may know your accountability concerning this issue.