Lacey city council updated its park department’s sponsorship policy on Thursday, March 2, months after the public complained against Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of the Children’s Day event at Huntamer Park last October. Residents had expressed that the company donates to groups unsupportive of LGBTQ rights.
The council also approved an ordinance updating the City Council Policy and Procedures Manual to align with the revised policy.
According to the revised policy, a sponsorship may take the form of program partnerships, event sponsorships, and rights to name facilities or areas.
Assistant City Manager Shannon Kelley-Fong said the updated policy establishes “a more comprehensive and standardized evaluation process” for reviewing such sponsorships. The changes include a mandatory questionnaire for sponsors and a matrix to help the park department with the evaluation process.
The questionnaire asks open-ended questions about how the sponsor’s values align with Lacey’s, their previous initiatives in equity and environmental stewardship, and if they are aware of any community members that could possibly oppose their sponsorship.
City council seeks to amend the policy further
While the city council unanimously voted to approve the change in policy, council members expressed a desire to amend the policy further to include an appeal process that involves the council.
The city council arrived on the topic when Councilmember Robin Vasquez asked if the council would be informed of rejected sponsorships. Kelley-Fong said that the current language of the policy does not require rejections to come to the council, but added that city staff could provide them with the information.
Councilmember Lenny Greenstein suggested that a denial should be sent to the council’s consideration, while Councilmember Carolyn Cox added that applying sponsors should initiate the appeal instead of a rejected application automatically going to the city council.
The city council eventually asked for Interim City Manager Rick Walk’s opinion who recommended approving the policy for now.
“It's a process that's fair and predictable for everybody that's involved,” Walk said. “There'll [also be] conversations between the parks director or their designee to work out any issues.”