Until this week, the dumbest statement that the Ole Seagull had ever heard a politician make was the justification that Nancy Pelosi gave for passing “Obama Care” when she said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it…” Well, after hearing the comments of Branson Mayor Karen Best, regarding the request of the Branson League of Theatre Owners & Show Producers (the League) for marketing assistance, at the October 20 study session of the Branson Board of Alderman (Board), Pelosi’s statement is now the second dumbest thing he ever heard a politician say!
In introducing the League’s request for discussion by the Board, Mayor Best evidently felt it necessary to express her apparent ignorance of, and insensitivity to, what many of Branson’s shows and theatres have been going through for the last few years. After some mumbo jumbo about her opinion of what the shows and theatres should have had on their web sites she said, “For what it’s worth, I believe you need to help yourself before others help you.”
Really! Madam Mayor, what “through the looking glass” world are you in? “Help yourself before others help you!” Are you kidding? Over the last 25 years, the Ole Seagull has personally witnessed the constant day by day, month after month, and year to year effort that many of the theatres and shows, represented by the League, have made, not only “to help themselves,” but to provide the quality, variety, and quantity of live shows, on a regular basis, throughout the entire season, that significantly helps to makes Branson the attractive travel destination it is. That effort, per the “Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB’s (CVB) 2015 Branson Visitor Profile,” is the #1 reason those surveyed decided to come to Branson by a two to one margin over #2!
An Ole Seagull must ask two questions. If the investment, sacrifice, sweat, stress, and time involved with that effort is not “helping themselves,” what is? Does anyone believe that the League would have come to the city for help if they felt they had any other choice or anywhere else to turn?
An Ole Seagull, while in total agreement and support of what they did, is perplexed as to “how” they did it. Sadly, in the normal course of city policies and procedures, the timing and way it was presented just made it easy for the Board to turn down. That said however, there was nothing “normal” about this request!
An Ole Seagull would have approved it in a heartbeat, out of respect, not only for what live shows mean to Branson’s economy, but because people in that industry, whom he cares about, believes in, and respects asked him to trust them and give them a chance to directly impact on their own destiny. Oh, there would have been conditions, accountability, and the expectation that the result would return about $70 plus dollars for every marketing dollar spent, but it would not have been turned away and he would have tried to get it done!
“Hold on now Seagull, isn’t that a bit ‘laissez-faire’ for the expenditure of $150,000.00?” Not really. Isn’t most of it sitting in reserve in a “Tourism Tax” account not being used for anything now?
Besides, if the figures of a $70 to $1 marketing return are accurate, what’s going to bring more revenue and people to Branson, honoring the League’s request for the marketing funds; about $3.5 million spent on a fountain; over $400,000 per year to, among other things, maintain that fountain; hundreds of thousands in Tourism Tax money diverted to pay bonds at Branson Airport; around $90,000 on a giant Christmas tree; about a million plus dollars being spent on that “thingamajig” in historic downtown at the corner of Pacific and Veterans Boulevard; the millions that will be spent because the city has taken over the maintenance of Highway 76 from the MODOT…well you get the idea.