The people of Seattle are fantastic, and quite generous. When Amanda Quinn heard about the Pioneer Square pergola damage in the wake of the Super Bowl partying, she wanted to do what she could to fix it, and started a GoFundMe campaign. Every time I refresh my browser, more donations have come in, and at the time of this posting, she has raised over $14,000 of the $25,000 goal in 19 hours.
But should we be paying for this?
I'm supportive of Amanda Quinn's values, and that she wanted to do this is indicative of a caring and thoughtful person. But I also see that we're on course to fully fund this campaign within 24 hours when it's taken the Boys and Girls Clubs 12 days to reach half of their goal, and when their campaign ends today they won't be fully funded. I'm not comparing motivations—generosity is generosity—but I am questioning our values.
Can't Paul Allen pay for this? Can't the players pony up a little bit of the endorsement deals they're sure to get as newly minted winners? This is a team of millionaires owned by a billionaire—wouldn't the ultimate gesture of good faith come from them? Particularly now that our city is in the national spotlight not only as Super Bowl winners, but for a pushing a debate about the raising minimum wage?
What about the city—are there any funds for replacing this historical space? Yup! I reached out to Joelle Hammerstad, spokesperson for the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, and she assured me that the city does in fact have a contingency fund to pay for this damage, saying:
This fundraiser is generous, but not necessary. There's a feeling of community around the structure; most people saw what was happening and thought it was so unfortunate after such a great event.
Amanda Quinn got the fundraising goal of $25,000 from reports sent out to media outlets about the estimated cost of repairs, but it may not even cost that much. Ms. Hammerstad said:
We're still figuring out the total budget, but the copper flashing isn't as damaged as we originally thought, and the glass is slightly cheaper to replace.
Ms. Hammerstad also told me that Western Washington Honda has committed to donating $10,000 towards repairs, in addition to the money being raised by Ms. Quinn. The money to replace the pergola, which didn't need to be raised in the first place, has effectively been fully funded.
The people of Seattle are fantastic, and quite generous. But did we really need to pony up this time?
UPDATE: Amanda Quinn's GoFundMe campaign goal has been changed from $25,000 to $15,000, and she's raised over $16,000 so far. Apparently Ms. Quinn received a call from the Parks Department asking her to stop accepting donations in light of the funding they already have (and have received through donations).