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Our view: Pass out the paper bags




It took an awfully long time for the New Orleans Saints to find anything approaching success. In fact, the franchise went 20 years before posting its first winning season. Somewhere in the throes of those two decades of losing teams, New Orleans Saints fans resolved themselves to an existence punctuated by bitter humor. Fans will certainly recall the days of the Aints, when fans donned paper bags on their heads to protect them from being identified as Saints fans. One particular joke, among many,stands out: "The Saints have had only one bad day in their history. Unfortunately, that day is Sunday. "It the same sort of gallows humor that could be applied to the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is suffering from its own extended losing streak. The CVB Board of Directors confines its errors to a single day each month. Unfortunately, it is always the day they actually meet. Monday's meeting was merely a continuation on a theme. During its regular meeting, the Board managed to hire an attorney to replace the attorney that quit in disgust in December. That should tell you all you need to know about this body, where every function seems to teeter on the precipice of dysfunction. While other CVBs rarely have the need for an attorney, the Columbus CVB seems to require constant legal supervision, such is the incessant bickering, arguing and threats exchanged among members and its director. To its credit, the CVB needed only two meetings to approve Chris Hemphill as its new attorney. Last month, Hemphill's name was floated out. Rather than vote on Hemphill, the board voted to advertise the position. When Hemphill turned out to be the only applicant, the board went ahead and made the hire. By CVB standards, Hemphill's hiring was a veritable triumph of effciency. Evidence of that emerged during the same meeting, when the board voted to fund the Grilling on the River event after voting not to fund the event at its previous meeting. Next month, who knows? Before the regular meeting, the CVB's grants committee met to discuss feedback from the Feb. 12 public hearing over its festival funding guidelines. The ad hoc group concluded that it had absolutely, positively, without question reached a firm decision ... to hold yet another meeting. At some point in the current century, there is every reason to expect that the committee will agree on the recommendations it will present to the board which, in turn, will need only a few short decades to settle on a binding set of festival funding guidelines. The board adopted new festival funding guidelines in August. A half-year later, they are still trying to figure them out. By now, it's clear that the board cannot be shamed into getting its act together. Its resolve crumbles at the first whisper of dissent. The board lacks conviction, but most of all it lacks leadership. Fund events or don't fund them. Enforce the rules or don't have them at all. But, please, for the sake of credibility, make a commitment and stick to it. It's natural to have a bad day. But does it always have to be the day the CVB meets



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