March 1, 2012 9:53:00 AM
When looking for words to describe recent actions of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board, resolute and rational do not come to mind.
Exhibit A: Supervisor Leroy Brooks and funding for his Juneteenth Festival.
At its Monday meeting, Brooks played the CVB Board like Lester Flatt played a fiddle.
When the board offered Brooks $9,000 for his Juneteenth Festival, Brooks demurred: "I appreciate it, but I will not accept it," he said. "If this is all you are willing to give to Juneteenth, I say thank you and I refuse it. It is not enough money for us."
The ploy worked like a charm.
Would you take $15,000? the board countered, anxious to please.
How about $14,500?
Make it $14,000 and I'm in, said boardmember Harvey Myrick.
Brooks thanked the group and left the meeting a happy man.
The board approved $15,000 for the Market Street Festival. Organizers for Market Street and Juneteenth have estimated attendance at their festivals to be 34,000 and 14,000, respectively.
For months the CVB has been trying to develop festival funding guidelines that, among other things, require financial accountability. A subcommittee comprising Bernard Buckhalter, Mark Castleberry, Rissa Lawrence and Myrick and came up with a proposal. Only problem is Brooks didn't like that either.
The board tabled the plan. Surprised? They now have a self-imposed Oct. 1. goal for coming up with grant guidelines.
Maybe the CVB should save itself some trouble and make Brooks a member of the committee. Better yet, just let him come up with the guidelines.
As it is now, if you're an elected official and the CVB is not funding your neighborhood festival, you may be in a minority.
Here's an idea. Why not get politicians out of the festival business? Why not ask organizers to be accountable and show evidence their events draw people from outside the area?
Something is terribly wrong with the CVB, and it goes beyond Leroy Brooks and his Juneteenth Festival. The organization appears to be a rudderless ship guided by a crew consumed by infighting. This is not to say there are not well meaning and capable board members giving their time and best efforts to the organization. There are. Unfortunately, those efforts are negated by the incivility of others.
In the meantime, we are reminded of Rodney King's plaintive call: "Can we just get along?"
That alone would be a refreshing improvement.
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