Last week’s Letter to the Editor entitled, “Branson Tourism Board chooses to spend millions in secret,” talked about the use of exceptions to Missouri’s Sunshine Law by the “Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District Board (Board)” as it goes through the process of using the millions of dollars in taxpayer funds it received for the marketing of the District. Normally, like last week’s letter which is available on line at www.TheOleSeagull.Com, the Ole Seagull uses a lot of facts and figures to back up his opinions, but this week, he’s going to go with his heart and gut.
A number of people have commented about the statement, “Why all the secrecy back in 2006? No one knows because it was all done behind closed doors with the public excluded, but were an Ole Seagull asked he’d opine, ‘They wanted to make sure the ‘right’ organization got the contract.’” In the Ole Seagull’s opinion he believes the “Branson Lakes Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB)” was awarded the multiyear multimillion dollar contract as much for nonmarketing reasons as for marketing reasons and, strangely perhaps for some, he has no problem with that result.
Were the Ole Seagull sitting on the Board at that time, based on what he knew, he would have voted for the CVB to get the contract. His vote would have been based on his belief that the “stake holders” of Branson, those investing their lives, blood, effort, and money in making Branson what it is, should be the ones controlling the marketing of Branson. In addition, at that time the CVB was a couple of years into the new marketing program that had been initiated as a result of a city sponsored Branding Study and, in the opinion of an Ole Seagull, with the limited marketing funds that were available was doing a great job.
The thing he would not have done however, is stand still for the Board conducting most of the original selection process under an exception to the Sunshine Law with minimal public participation. The process itself continued and perpetrated a perception about the “Chamber” and the Board that could have been substantially mitigated had the Board elected to conduct their business in an open and public manner.
The CVB marketing contract is up this year, but there is a provision that permits the automatic renewal of the contract for another three years without the Board going through the RFP Process or even looking at other potential firms or organizations to do Branson’s marketing. For what it’s worth, were the Ole Seagull sitting on the Board he would recommend that RFP’s go out so that the community could evaluate other ideas out there that might result in Branson being marketed more effectively, but most of all, he would recommend that the process and all discussions be conducted in an open and public manner.
He truly believes that at the end of the day the process would more than likely result in the contract being awarded to the CVB. The “more than likely” comes into play because, in an Ole Seagulls opinion, it should take one WOW of a presentation, i.e. getting the same results for a lot less money or “this idea is so great it will bring millions more to Branson than with what we are currently doing,” to give the marketing contract to anyone else other than the CVB.
In his heart of hearts he just doesn’t believe the WOWs out there. Even with its imperfections, the current economy, floods, gas prices, and whatever else has come Branson’s way, Branson’s CVB marketing program has done an outstanding job of marketing Branson during some of the worst economic times most have seen in their lifetimes.