The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

More CCTB Revelations

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I read Geoffrey Ritter’s article on the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB) in Wednesday’s Carbondale Times. It’s not online yet, so you’ll have to pick up a copy of the paper to read it. I’ll give you a very brief summary, but you should definitely read the entire article.

Ritter has written in the past (here and here) about nepotism at CCTB. In this week’s article, Ritter reveals that the nepotism might have put CCTB and its director in violation of the state’s conflict-of-interest policy. The problem centers around Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO) grants. CCTB has received several of these grants in the past eight years and some of the funds were used to employ the CCTB director’s daughter.

IDCEO requires grant applicants to provide notice in writing of possible conflicts of interest, which appears to include providing financial gains to a grantee’s family member. The Times filed a freedom of information request with IDCEO seeking “any and all written conflict-of-interest disclosures” submitted by CCTB, but IDCEO did not provide any disclosures in its response. If no disclosures were filed, that could be a violation of the conflict-of-interest policy, which carries some pretty severe penalties.

As I read the article, I was aware that the city council is planning to act on funding for community organizations at the Tuesday, May 1 meeting. I’ve written before that I think the city needs to bring CCTB under control. The May 1 meeting is the time to take action.

As I see it, there are two possible courses. The first would be to insist on a clause in the city’s contract with CCTB giving the city representation on the board proportional to the portion of the CCTB budget provided by the city. If the city provided 70% of the CCTB budget, the city would appoint 70% of voting board members. We would then need to rely on the mayor to appoint board members who will exercise oversight over CCTB and ideally make some personnel changes in the organization.

The second option would be to simply withdraw city funds from CCTB. The recent decision by the CCTB board to nearly double its membership, thus diluting the voting strength of the city’s appointees to the board, suggests intransigence at the agency. Even if the city’s board strength can be restored through the contract, CCTB might simply find another way to evade city oversight and control. Maybe it’s time to stop funding CCTB.

We should not consider inaction an option. The money the city gives to CCTB belongs to the people of Carbondale. Public money should be used for public purposes and under public control. Allowing the recent CCTB board expansion to stand is not acceptable. Nepotism, or the appearance of nepotism, is not acceptable.

The city council needs to know what you think. The people who support the status quo will call council members and they’ll show up to defend CCTB. If you think the agency needs to be accountable to the public, it would be a good idea to take a moment and call or e-mail the mayor and city council. You can click here to find their contact information on the city’s website.

Comments are welcome.

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Written by The Carbondale Observer

April 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

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