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April 30, 2012

Posted Thursday, May 10, 2012, at 3:05 PM

The month of April has blown by like a Bob Gibson fastball. I began the month with the Chungoing Red Parrots coming to Malden to create a baseball camp to train their players. The Red Parrots were my idea of an April fool's Day joke. I'm ending the month involved with what may or may not be a joke, and no, it's not exactly about the city government. I received a telephone call last week from a television producer. He said that he is considering Malden to be the subject of a TV show. The program is hosted by Terry Bradshaw of National Football League fame. It would have been more than ironic if the host had been Bob Gibson. The program format is a search for "undiscovered small towns that are great places to live or visit."

I participated in a conference call this past Friday along with our city administrator. The producer of the TV show asked a lot of questions about Malden and the surrounding area. We were told that if Malden is chosen to be featured on the show, it will air on the Discovery Channel. Also, I believe, it will be shown in fifteen other TV markets to be chosen by us and the program directors. The City of Malden will own the copyright to the material featuring Malden. I think that is a fair summary of what I heard although it may not be completely accurate.

Now for the kicker and there always is one, isn't there? The producers of this television show want the City of Malden to contribute toward the cost of production. The amount may not be large in the world of television or just in the world in general today. However, $20,000 is still a lot of money to me and the world I see outside my window.

Is this proposed TV show a joke? Is it payback for the Red Parrots? Is it a con or a hustle? My personal crap detector antennae were on high alert when the conference call began to focus on Malden sending a check and the need to do it quickly instead of the nuts and bolts of bringing a production crew to Malden. Am I being to cynical? I don't know, but somehow I don't think that Charles Kuralt asked for $20,000 before he pulled up in front of Lambert's Restaurant in Sikeston and saw his first hot roll go flying by for his "On the Road" program on CBS Television.

The subject is almost always money in some way or another and last Thursday evening the Malden City Council had a budget committee meeting. The meeting was held to start the process of preparing and approving a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012. Malden is in pretty good shape financially, but these are somewhat perilous financial times. You could argue that any time is financially perilous if you don't take care of business or you are blindsided by an unexpected event. Currently, the City of Malden, including the Board of Public Works, spends $310,583.52 providing group medical and life insurance for its employees; effective July 1, 2012 that number will be $381.085.92. This is not an unexpected event as medical insurance costs continue to soar, but the size of the increase is a little staggering. The cost of medical care and how to pay for it is a political battle in this country and that fight has been almost continuous for the last one hundred years. There are no clear winners other than the providers of insurance and medical care. Those entities are now some of the wealthiest organizations in our country. Political fights are always about two things-money and power. The City of Malden, its employees, and our citizens are all combatants in the fight. The Malden City Council will make a good faith effort to keep its collective head down in the fight and hopefully suffer only a blow to the collective pocketbook and not a fatal wound.

The financial report is as follows:

April 20, 2012Balance $1,345,491.46
Revenues $89,360.94

Expenses $163,039.76

April 27, 2012Balance $1,271,812.64

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