[Columnist Note: This and all related columns on the proposed Branson Adventure TIF can be found on line at www.TheOleSeagull.com.]
David A. Cushman, Principal CP-Branson Adventures Redevelopment, sent a letter to the editor, published in the March 21, edition of this paper under the title, “The difference between truth and opinion.” The letter addressed the Ole Seagull’s March 21 column, entitled, ” Does a rising tide really raise all boats?” After first quoting Cushman, “DC, “The Ole Seagull, “TOSG,” will respond:
DC: …I believe it is important to realize the difference between truth and opinion. To do so the opinion piece published in the Branson Daily Independent on March 21-22 should be parsed to separate the two…”
TOSG: The column is an “opinion column” doing nothing more than expressing the opinion of one tired, overweight, balding, 76 year old man; not much to parse there. It’s designed for one purpose, to get folks to think about the issues he writes about and, using whatever information they deem appropriate, form their own opinions.
He would point out one important “Fact.” Just because it’s an “opinion” doesn’t mean it isn’t the “truth” or factual. All an Ole Seagull can say, is that to the best of his ability and limited resources, for over 25 years, he has tried to give the basis for his opinions and has never intentionally written anything that he did not believe to be true.
DC: First, on the general concept of the economic validity of public-private cooperation to create major attractions for regions. This is a proven and fiscally prudent strategy many communities take. Just a few examples include: a. U.S National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, b. Gateway Arch National Park and grounds renovation, c. Baltimore’s Port Charlotte redevelopment.
TOSG: The Ole Seagull is not bright enough to discuss ” the economic validity of public-private cooperation to create major attractions for regions,” hence there was no mention of such in the column. However he must ask, “Was there a White Water Center in Charlotte or Arch in St. Louis that the government assisted projects competed directly against? Did those projects have the potential to directly adversely impact on the very businesses that formed the economic foundation of those communities?
DC: Second, the notion that public monies are being used to fund the project is inaccurate.
TOSG: The column did not say “that public monies are being used to fund the project.” About as close as it came to that was the closing opinion stating, “A privately funded non-competing park is a great idea. A publicly subsidized lodging resort is unfair and a bad idea….” Although expressed by one of the businesses that the TIF funded project will be directly competing against, it is something that the Ole Seagull fully believes.
But for the subsidizing of the project with a TIF, it would not go forward. Too, the unnatural government interference with the normal competition of the market place, enables government subsidized competition against specific competing businesses, representing Branson’s very economic foundation, that would not otherwise be there.
How does the city justify that? Does anyone really believe that a substantial portion of the estimated revenues for the project will not be cannibalized from Branson’s already existing hotels, camp grounds, zip lines, water parks, mountain coasters, shows, and theme parks?
DC: Third, the data presented at the commission and on file with the city is very clear, Global leaders in tourism economics have developed our projections based on actual results in Branson and other markets.
TOSG: Someone please point out where an Ole Seagull is wrong here. No matter how sophisticated the people who developed them are, at the end of the day, those projections are but opinions of what may or may not happen; not “fact.” Does the City of Branson have any study or data indicating that a substantial number of potential visitors, about 600,000, are not coming to Branson because its existing indoor water parks, lodging, mountain slides, and zip lines do not meet their needs?
Why are we thinking of subsidizing a project for which there has been no demonstrated need at the potential expense of our existing businesses and economic base.