The city's back in the Last Thursday business—at least for tonight.
Faced with the resignation earlier this week of a volunteer board that's run the popular, if controversial, event since 2011, Mayor Charlie Hales announced today that city bureaus will not only be paying to close off 15 blocks of Alberta this evening, they'll also provide security and porta-potties.
Those functions had been handled by Friends of Last Thursday, but members of the group announced on Sunday they'd be stepping down amidst conflict with the mayor's office on a proposed shrinking of the event. The precise details of that conflict are still in debate. FoLT has claimed Hales' office set new conditions for the group to get a permit for the event this month—including decreasing the event by three blocks and shutting it down an hour earlier, at 9 pm. The mayor's office, meanwhile, says it made those suggestions as part of a dialogue with the group, not as mandates.
Following FoLT's resignation, the mayor's office announced it would pick up leadership of Last Thursday for this month, without its proposed changes.
The suggestions/mandates came after FoLT was unable to meet volunteer, security and porta-potty goals Hales set for May's event. Among those goals, according to the volunteer group, was that one toilet be provided for every 125 attendees. It's unclear whether the city will meet those standards tonight.
It's also not clear what the blow-up will cost taxpayers. In the past, the operation of Last Thursday has set the city back around $10,000 a month. We've got calls and an e-mail in to Hales' office about the expected costs.
Hales, by the way, expects to attend tonight's festivities. According to his calendar, the mayor will be on-hand from 8:30 pm to the 10 pm closure.