A social event last night provided me with some first-hand background from several related parties on the raging City Hall debate on the proposal to install a 24-hour MAPCO gas station and beer outlet within two blocks of the front steps of the Robinson Auditorium, where a $70 million renovation has begun.
1) The lobbying effort AGAINST the proposal from important sectors of the business community remains fierce. And it must remain fierce for the project to be defeated when it comes before the City Board again in three months.
2) The MAPCO proposal lacked the votes Tuesday night, it still lacks the votes and the second delay — allowed at the 11th hour with a roomful of people prepared to speak — hardened opposition among some board members. Six votes are needed from the 10-member board. So far, only Erma Hendrix, Doris Wright and Lance Hines seem in support (for reasons unclear). Stacy Hurst, facing a November race for state representative as a Republican in a progressive, Democratic district, seems to hope for a delay in the vote until after November. B.J. Wyrick and Joan Adcock sharply expressed unhappiness at the delaying tactics. Brad Cazort said no tinkering with the plan could remove its fatal flaw — that stretch of Broadway doesn’t need a convenient store and gas station. Gene Fortson supported the motion for a delay, but he, Dean Kumpuris and Ken Richardson are counted as opponents of the measure. It would have been dead long ago but for the fact that MAPCO hired Chamber of Commerce powerhouse Dickson Flake to carry the issue for the company. He persuaded the Planning Commission to approve it over the city planning staff’s strong objections. Strong Mayor Mark Stodola has not been heard from. He’d vote only in the case of a 5-5 tie. He could abstain and thus kill the measure without having to take a formal position.