Yesterday the Salt Lake County Council voted on whether Tyson should have a job or not, and the results were rather inconclusive. Okay, so they weren't really voting on whether Tyson should have a job; they were voting on whether Hogle Zoo's request for a $65 million dollar bond could be placed on the November ballot. Since Tyson had been tentatively offered a job as the Field Director for the campaign, the vote affected his job status. Though the council voted to place the bond issue on the ballot, it didn't really go the way the Zoo wanted it to. You can read about it in the Salt Lake Tribune.
The upshot is, the Zoo had the four Democrats on the nine-person council in their corner, as well as (most likely), one Republican, giving them a likely 5-4 margin on the vote. However, during the last-minute wheeling and dealing before the vote, the Republicans insisted the bond could only be placed on the ballot if the zoo would raise the full $20 million they had intended on raising privately over the next ten years within the next two years instead. Only after the $20 million was raised would the Zoo get any money from the bond. The Democrats did not like the stipulation, so in the end none of them voted for the bond, and the five Republicans did, and it still passed 5-4, but opposite from what the zoo hoped or thought. The stipulation is not a favorable situation for the zoo, because first, it will be difficult to raise that amount of money so quickly, and second, due to inflation the actual worth of the bond changes by the time the zoo gets to use it (it is spread out over a number of years).
The zoo is not necessarily a "pet" issue for me, and I do see the reasoning that if taxes are going to be raised, perhaps education and infrastructure (such as roads) are higher priorities. But on the other hand, I think quality of life is a big issue and a worthwhile cause. I believe zoos, parks, arts organizations, etc. do deserve some public funding - they deserve to be made a priority in our society. It was the zoo's wish that this decision be made by the general public in November. I haven't visited the zoo in a long time, but from what I hear, there have been many improvements made, all part of the "Renew the Zoo" 30-year master plan. Did you know one of the elephants is due to have a baby next summer?
Anyway, Tyson had been hired by The Exoro Group (a public relations and political consulting firm working for the zoo), with the understanding that if yesterday's vote didn't go through, there would be no job. He did a few days of work leading up to the vote, for which he will of course be paid. For over a week now, we have had our sights set on July 15 as the day we would know what the next few months held for us. But we still don't know! The Zoo could choose to have the bond issue removed from the ballot, and try again next year when the political climate might be more favorable (read: likely to be more Democrats on the council after the upcoming election). The issue could be put to a Council vote again on August 5, with the Zoo hoping it would pass without strings. Or, the Zoo could accept the bond going on the ballot as stipulated yesterday, and move forward with their public campaign.
As you might imagine, there just aren't tons of jobs out there for people with Bachelor's degrees in Political Science. I'm proud of Tyson for being selected for this position, and I think he would do an awesome job. (I might be a little biased, but Tyson is an extremely capable guy!) Though temporary, this job would be a great experience for him. We're back in wait-and-see mode for now, and I'll let you know when we know!