Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Current Watch: Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. SafePlace answers Local's Call

You are asking.

That asking is growing in fever pitch, now that word is out we are releasing comments again on this blog.

We have decided to give you what you want.

Straight talk, no holds barred, smalltown7's view on what’s left to deal with on the Current Watch on the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. Just like our investigative period used to do, prior to your win of getting oversight on the Tourism Marketing Contract in place.

In process:
• Final approval of minor changes to language in your new City Ordinance #12, Series of 2010. City Council should have that on the agenda for final read and pass on July 15th, 2010. We are highly confident it will pass, all council members seemed to be in favor on 1st read. There did not appear to be any nays coming, with maybe the exception of Councilwoman Kaup and Councilman Sturges; who may be susceptible to pressure from the full court press. We hope there are no nays.

Accountability from the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, for the return of the funds depleted from city discretionary fund when the Tourism Grant Fund ran dry this Spring. The chamber openly admitted, at council on the 1st, that they sit on a cushion. The chamber openly revealed no replacement for Kate Collins has been done after her recent resignation. Kate’s salary for an entire year has already been paid to the chamber, with less than 5 months of that salary depleted. The chamber attempted to state they have the contract for 2011. In reality, they do not. One of the first pushes, by this now diverse board, is being watched to be one of the first ever RFP (Request For Proposals) being issued on the Tourism Marketing Contract. smalltown7's vote is Kate Collins and her new firm, Write Brain Left, Inc. to bid that RFP. By our calculations, the return of the balance of Kate’s salary for the year 2010, combined with the release back to the city of a cushion that was never to have been in place without City Council’s awareness; returns to the people what we shelled out for bail-out to the Grant Fund. There should be ample remaining, in addition to, that would fund all of the worthwhile grant requests that are currently doing without. We are hoping that our very vocal push to point these items out to council gets this item back on agenda quickly so the folks can benefit. Full accountability for that dip by the chamber this year, walks hand in hand with getting an RFP in place for 2011. RFP construction itself is more a function of the section below.

Issues we feel the new Tourism Board can and should cover:
• Secure our still down, accommodations tax base, by issuing an RFP for the 2011 award. Kate Collins could walk right into that and pick up stride quickly.That may be the fastest, wisest choice for 2011.   Kim Doose, Snap Smart Media is another huge favorite of our community. She could do same. No, smalltown7 does not support any bidding by the chamber to be allowed until all questions from the past are answered and transparency is in place. We do see the need for political stroking in having a member of the Chamber sit on the new Tourism Board. We strongly suggest that be a member of the Chamber Board of Directors rather than any Chamber employee.

• Inventory immediately what our resources are in Tourism Promotion.    For years, each time noise has been made to remove the chamber, the chamber and it’s board have countered with their statements and implications that they “own” all creations paid for by marketing funds, to date. For years, only the tourism elite, who were hand picked by the chamber to sit on the old Tourism Board, have seen the lion’s share of promotion. A very conservative guesstimate of 85% of all promotion done for decades has benefitted the Hot Springs Pool and it’s offshoot spas. Sunlight Ski Resort and it’s affiliations. Glenwood Canyon Resort and Glenwood Caverns and their offshoots. Hotels and restaurants coming in behind. This new and diverse oversight board holds more seats and demands diversity. Small business representation, private citizens, limited lodging and financial institutions.

 At this time, smalltown7 apologizes to our City Council for our comment in an earlier post. We stated that this new ordinance was a piece of milk toast and set up for making politicians in the current have an easier row, all the work to be done by the future. We also went on to call their work on this ordinance a “public disgrace”. We do not redact the milk toast. It is. But after watching, on July 1, 2010, only one of you come very close to caving to the Chamber’s Full Court Press; we do see your sincerity and your commitment to becoming stronger and more accountable. smalltown7 does not believe you are a public disgrace and respectfully apologizes.

Let’s find out what the city owns. Let’s find out what we have of substance in draws , events, gimics and promotions.

• Citizens who are small business owners, do know what a landing sheet is, Kate. What we want is a budget that is not short sighted and suiting an assumption that the ATM known as the Accommodations Tax will never shut down or run dry. Let’s get fresh blood, new ideas into a few work sessions so that hard looks at how the numbers add up to bang for the buck. The 2011 budget and landing need to be performing back to at least 2008 standards, no matter what “the economy” does. True resources like Glenwood Springs don’t slump this much when any outside influence kicks in.

• As our new board settles in, address the issue of Strawberry Days. Civic event or Chamber event? Get 2011 Strawberry Days dialed in to meet whatever our current City ordinances require for one of the biggest annual draws we have.

• Start looking at long term goals. The potential merit of awarding a performance based Tourism Promotion Contract, major and at least semi-permanent draws such as an expansion of the water park, para gliding infrastructure, major and sustainable with high revenue draws such as World Kayak and what we can put together to compliment Vail when they host the next Winter Olympics and smaller draws that could hold focused funding to Tourism Grant Fund so it can get off of accommodations tax revenues.

Issue we feel your new Tourism Oversight Board and our City Council should work hand in hand on. At this time, we also make the call for our County Commissioners to join in as the property the Chamber is housed in belongs to Garfield County:
• 22 years worth of forensic transparency on all public money flowing through the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

There you go, mostly local asking peeps. You asked, we delivered. It’s up to you to make this new board all you want it to be.

In response to the call out to hammerandnails to sit this board: (“I may be at a loss for words and humbled hearing all this. But actually would like to sit this board.   Especially if some of our nominees join me. Steve Swanson of Good Health Grocery. Stan Rachesky, old War Horse. rukdng, a common man with common sense and a fair hand. Jason Carey, and need I say more. Sharrill Hawkins, just a really good woman. Dave Heyl, a logical and savvy businessman with keen eyes who does not back down when needed. Yep, I would like that. But, after all this hard work to get our original question answered on “where’s the money?”, there’s been too much blood shed to get your new board in place only to have it get weakened by what is sure to come in manipulation and opposition now. None of us will be the ones to give that opposition a target mark.  "Conspiracy against the Chamber" days are over now.  Time to do better things with all our time.  We want you not just flying out there, we want Glenwood Springs soaring. I’ll keep my friends in low places until we get you there. Thanks, though. May need to get a bigger hat.”)

Comments remain moderated on this blog.  34 of 42 comments on our last post have been released.  6 of the 8 that are held back; contain positive content that assists our latest whistleblower's legal  needs.  The remaining two of the 8 have been cataloged as evidentiary.  We encourage your comments and rarely strike.  Please also remember we all have day jobs and this is volunteer work.  At the present time, it takes 9 of us devoting around 15  hours a week to all the posting on nationwide forums for  all the political offshoots  this blog has brought us, for all the research time it takes to keep track of the fast moving run of this Current Watch. We also have  a number of organizations that watches have been asked for and we still need to pull together some decisions on.  Thank you for your patience.