A Word About CCTB
I have been following Geoffrey Ritter’s excellent series on the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB) in the Carbondale Times over the last couple of months. A few weeks ago, I wrote summaries of the two city council meetings concerning CCTB funding (one, two), and I briefly mentioned that I supported Mayor Fritzler’s plan to cut the agency’s funds.
Other than that, I’ve avoided commenting on the CCTB scandal – mainly because it hasn’t seemed necessary. Ritter was exposing CCTB Executive Director Debbie Moore’s questionable moves and the council was taking action to cut the agency’s funding and replace more than half of its board of directors.
When I read Ritter’s article in this week’s Times, I became furious. It isn’t online yet, so if you want to read it you’ll have to pick up a paper copy of the Times. I’ll give you a very brief summary.
Mayor Fritzler was planning to replace all eight of the CCTB board members appointed by the city. The eight members made up a majority of the fifteen person board. The new members would presumably be in a position to exercise some oversight over CCTB and possibly replace its director. So, anticipating the change in membership, the CCTB board voted this week to increase the size of the board, which has the effect of reducing the proportion of board members appointed by the city. To make matters worse, CCTB appointed seven of the eight members Fritzler was planning to replace to the newly created seats.
When I read that, I was shocked and infuriated. The arrogance of this move is breathtaking. It is a transparent attempt to evade city oversight and control of CCTB’s activities, despite the fact that the city of Carbondale provides more than 80% of CCTB’s funding. This cannot be allowed to stand.
The Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau is almost entirely funded by tax dollars that belong to the people of Carbondale. We give the organization tax money that could be used to fund other priorities. If public money is funding an organization, the public has a right to hold that organization accountable. Attempts to evade public oversight are unacceptable.
In this week’s article, Ritter writes that Mayor Fritzler “said he may present for a vote a proposal first presented by Wissmann in February that would make city representation on boards and commissions to which it gives money proportional to the amount of money given.” I was skeptical of that idea when Wissmann proposed it, but it’s obvious now that it is necessary. Fritzler should propose it, and council should support it.
Until such a policy can be put in place, council should direct staff to zero out the city’s contribution to CCTB. That organization should not receive another penny of tax revenue until it can be brought under control. That means more than a change in the composition of the board. That also means a change in staff. At the very least, the executive director should be replaced. Until these changes happen, the city should refuse to fund CCTB.
This change will require leadership. This is an opportunity for Fritzler to prove he’s up to the job of mayor. It is the responsibility of our elected officials to see that our tax dollars are spent wisely. Allowing CCTB to evade oversight is not an option. Council must act to stop the abuses at CCTB.
I’ll link Ritter’s past Carbondale Times articles below. I especially recommend the last two articles.
Comments are welcome.