The arrangement between current Montrose City Council member and former Mayor Dave Bowman and Janece Culver, who is the latest to lease the restaurant at the city owned Black Canyon Golf Course, has ended up an embarrassment.
Bowman, president of the Montrose Summer Music Series, is accused of coercing Culver into an agreement that paid MSMS, a non-profit, a buck a pour on beer sales. First pour — which included a cup with the logos for MSMS and Culver’s restaurant, Divots — was $6. The cups were provided by MSMS. Refills after that were $5. On the surface, it seems innocent enough. Event promoters often expect those who stand to profit off of their event to participate with a “sponsorship” of said event.
But in this case the issue is that it was discovered after the fact to be an arrangement that violated the state liquor laws. Culver holds the liquor licenses for any alcohol served on the premises.
Even though Culver in an interview with the Montrose Daily Press stated that Bowman didn’t intimidate her into the deal, just the fact that Bowman was mayor at the time added pressure to Culver to agree to the arrangement.
Culver has been a business owner in Montrose for a number of years. She and her former husband owned Affordable Trailers, The Shanty II restaurant amongst others. She’s no stranger to the art of the deal. But nonetheless, she turned to the city for help because of her uneasiness about the arrangement between her and Bowman.
What is the city’s role in the MSMS?
Here’s Bowman’s take in an interview with MDP after he was elected as mayor by his fellow council members.
“The city does have a sponsorship. They rent us the Black Canyon Golf Course, granted it’s very inexpensive, but we pay the same as everybody else. The city offers us a lot of in-kind help bringing in port-a-potties, extra trash cans, we use a gator and an oversized golf cart to help move handicapped people into the crowd.”
What is Bowman’s role as president of MSMS and his pay? Bowman’s words again from the same interview: “I make a small amount of money, it really has nothing to do with my council. I make $3,200 for raising money, booking the bands, running the event and taking care of everything at the end. We raise about $40,000 a year. You don’t do that without some good effort.”
Bowman has faced scrutiny in the past for perceived conflict of interest as a council member and his role as president of MSMS. He’s been vocal in regard to promoting the series, including during council meetings.
But the optics on this arrangement with Culver aren’t good for Bowman.
Now the city council is feeling the pressure from a vocal group within the community. This group is claiming corruption by all except Culver. They’re demanding an investigation which, according to a statement released by the city council this past week, they are going to get. Council has instructed MPD Chief Blaine Hall to request the CBI to look into the matter. No objections have been heard from Bowman.
We’re now at a stage of, at the very least, embarrassment for the City of Montrose as a whole.
I’ll add in that ignorance of the liquor law is no excuse for either party involved in this controversy.
City council is correct in its statement that the arrangement between Bowman and Culver has nothing to do with the city. And even though Bowman was mayor at the time, I’ll also add that Culver had all the leverage. If she didn’t like the arrangement, she had a recourse. Culver can’t claim she was uncomfortable with the deal because it jeopardized her liquor license. Her discomfort came from losing revenue. Being the only business who can serve alcohol on the premises gave her leverage. She could have easily positioned herself by telling Bowman, “If your guests want beer, send them to the restaurant.”
I’m not even sure Bowman could have stopped her from setting up beer stations around the perimeter of the event.
All that being said, Bowman has put the spotlight on the city council. In other words, he’s a distraction. His credibility as a council member with the community may never recover.
He has to strongly consider stepping down. An investigation is more than likely going to come to a “he said, she said” conclusion. Neither side will prevail.
Isn’t it ironic that the very people who just months ago praised Bowman for his integrity concerning the moving of $670,000 from the public safety fund, which he was the lone council member who opposed it, are now for the most part the ones calling for Bowman to resign and are calling him corrupt.
Talk about a tough crowd.
What isn’t ironic is the fact that the core of that group either ran for or backed those who opposed current city council members in the last election. I wonder if the agony of defeat will ever subside. Which brings to mind a quote from the great Mel Brooks, “What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on around here?!”