CRVA board fires back at Mayor Foxx and Charlotte City Council
Posted on 6 Jul 2011 by Larry Shaheen Jr.
The gauntlet has been thrown down and the CRVA Board, who had been pressured in past weeks to let go of their Chief Tim Newman, has answered with a very firm “no thanks!”
In a letter sent today by Joe Hallow, chair of the visitors authority board, to Mayor Anthony Foxx and members of the Charlotte City Council, Hallow informed Charlotte City Council that the CRVA Board would be keeping CEO Tim Newman and COO Mike Crum even though their contracts have expired.
A little history on the letter can be found via the Charlotte Business Journal article today.
“The executives’ most recent contracts city expired June 30. Newman and the visitors authority have been criticized by the mayor and council members in recent months for financial losses at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, entertainment expenses and bonus policies. Council members withheld millions of dollars in tourism funding last month, pending an expected overhaul of operating guidelines due July 22.
According to [CRVA Chairman Joe] Hallow’s letter, written with CRVA board Vice Chair Vinay Patel, the decision on Newman and Crum “was reached after considerable discussion concerning both immediate issues and longer term strategic direction for the CRVA.”
By an 8–3 vote, the [Charlotte City] council last month approved $2.5 million for the visitors authority , 25 percent of the $10 million requested for the new fiscal year that began July 1.
Council members debated what must be done to secure the rest of the money. Foxx, a frequent critic of the CRVA, said he wants to see a plan, rather than “a plan to have a plan.”
The visitors authority also recently released a 17-page written report by PriceWaterhouseCooper assessing various aspects of the tourism organization.
Among other things, the report raised questions about the credibility of attendance projections at the visitors authority-operated NASCAR Hall of Fame, suggested greater transparency for how employee bonuses are awarded and recommended revised standards for expenses and entertainment.”
There has long been speculation among individuals close to this issue that the motives behind Mayor Foxx and Councilman Barnes’ attacks on CRVA were to pressure the Board into letting go of Tim Newman and making political changes on the Board with preparations for the DNC underway.
There is also speculation that this is a personal issue between Anthony Foxx and Tim Newman. What would be refreshing from this citizen’s seat would be to hear the real story about why Foxx and Barnes are so keen to have Newman gone.
One thing is certain: For those in the business community who wanted to see the CRVA off of page 1 and first stories of local news, they are going to have to wait a little longer as this just became a fresh and red hot issue. This move by the Board to keep Newman sets up a showdown on July 25th when the CRVA funding will once again be before the city council. The CRVA was created to be set apart from just this type of political maneuvering and it will be interesting to see the next move from Council now that they have seen that the Board will not be pressured politically.
Stay tuned for more updates here at CLT Blog. (And watch for my upcoming column, “The State of Mecklenburg”.)