Monday, March 19, 2012

Carbondale Times Highlights Issues in CCTB

Geoffrey Ritter at the Carbondale Times may be one of the best investigative reporters in Southern Illinois right now. A long story a few years ago in the Herrin Independent about the issues behind Herrinfesta finally explained to me the issues facing the festival. Now, he's digging into the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau.

For those not knowing what was happening behind the scenes, this reveals it.

I'd seen where the the mayor and city council had expressed concerns in the Southern Illinoisan, and for the first time there were cracks in the normal favorable coverage of the bureau. In the end, the city cut $50,000 worth of funding this year.

Ritter digged deeper and reports on the nepotism issues long known to those in the tourism world.
The Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau director’s practice of steering jobs and taxpayer funding to her daughter stretches back years, a continuing investigation by the Times has revealed, and totals at the very least in the tens of thousands of dollars.
In addition, the practice of familial patronage has extended to the very center of major initiatives undertaken over the past decade by CCTB Executive Director Debbie Moore, among them the establishment of a tourism curriculum at John A. Logan College and the formation of a culinary tourism project initially operated out of SIU.
The rest of the article can be found here. The story builds on their earlier coverage in February.

Eight seats on the tourism board are up as of April 30. The Times' headline (print edition only) indicated the mayor planned to name new people.
City Council Member Jane Adams was very critical of agency at public meetings in February as D. W. Norris reported in the Southern.

"A number of people tell me they have contacted CCTB and never get called back," Adams said.

Adams also wondered why CCTB's budget was not more in depth as far as expenses, at one point saying, "I guess I just don't understand your budget."

...Adams was also critical of CCTB's website, which has a low number of visits, non-functioning tools and a calendar with few events listed.

"In terms of tourism websites ... it's an embarrassment," Adams said.
 Adams had more on her blog earlier this month.
The issue of funding the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB) has brought me more mail and phone calls than any other issue I have written about. Almost all of these constituents called on Council to defund the agency, and many have detailed complaints about how the Bureau has been run. I have, frankly, been surprised by the depth of feeling this issue has aroused.
 For once I won't comment further.

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