Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weighing In

The Other Dunwoody has been prodded from time to time to wax poetic about Dunwoody's Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB). We've generally avoided bashing this operation as its problems are structural, implying malice and forethought, and obvious to even the most casual observer. The most recent request came on the heels of a public dustup between two vocal single-issue factions in DaVille. In one corner is Thespians For A Subsidized Theater (T-FAST) and in the other corner we find Ballparks, Ballparks Uber Alles (BBUA). The CVB stepped on a land mine with the mere suggestion they might partially fund a study to determine if a theater at Brook Run might put some heads in beds thereby taking sides in the T-FAST vs BBUA conflict and making the BBUA crowd mad as hornets.

The CVB did make a mistake, not in which side they chose but in that the stepped outside their primary purpose in life. And what might that purpose be? It is in answering that question that the bashing begins.

The public facing purpose (IE: propaganda and prevarication) is to put heads in beds--the CVB is a marketing operation for local hotels, paid for by a Hotel/Motel Tax levied by the City of Dunwoody. You may be sitting there wondering "how would anyone know about hotels in Dunwoody were it not for the CVB?" You would be an idiot. But just the kind of idiot the founding fathers of this city adore. The remaining three devoted readers are wondering "what does the CVB really do given that all these hotels have significant and effective marketing departments that really do put heads in beds?"


The CVB, being quasi-government, doesn't actually do anything along the lines of what it purports to do. In actuality the CVB is a front for a much more sinister and inherently corrupt operation. And therein lies the problem.

On the surface it seems silly to take money from hotels and then turn around and use that money exclusively for the benefit of the very same hotels. It would appear to be an unnecessary creation of an inefficient government bureaucracy. And that it is. Well, unless your are an elected official in which case any growth in government is good growth and there is no such thing as an unnecessary government bureaucracy.

But it is worse than that. Being quasi-governmental the positions within the CVB are appointed positions. Appointees are selected by Mayor and Council with little or no public input or review and since these are paid positions a kind observer might remark this is a platform for patronage. Given that the publicly stated purpose of the CVB is not only redundant but also cannot be measured independent of hotelier's own marketing efforts there is sufficient opacity to allow for a great distance between any given appointee and competency. This makes the CVB a dumping ground for Friends and Family with a guarantee they are overpaid no matter how small the paycheck.

All of this adds up to an operation that is essentially a petri dish for growing a cancerous culture of corruption with the carcinogens provided by city elected officials and "staff." It serves as OJT on how to use OPM to wield power and direct public funds to favored parties. This is all well and good so long as it is confined to CVB as that is basically what CVB is there for. Over time metastatic disease will spread to other operations and our politicos will blur the lines between what is allowed in CVB but is verboten in other city operations. It will not be long before we cultivate bad actors committing sufficiently bad acts to make any corrupt DeKalb County politician green with envy.

Given how bad having a CVB is and how little it actually does for anybody (except politicos and their Friends and Family) you might think that it would be a very good idea to dispense with the CVB altogether. Merely suggesting this reveals a fundamental moral rot undermining the foundations of this city. This was best expressed by one of the unnecessary combatants in the T-FAST vs BBUA kerfuffle:
"I'm not in favor of ridding ourselves of the CVB because then DeKalb CVB would take over."
While this is a single case of DeKalb Hating overriding reason it is a common thread running thru this city from its conception on into any foreseeable future. This is a very real problem that is much more serious than anything directly related to who puts heads in beds.