CCVB – No Thanksgiving at Monday’s Meeting

November 22, 2011

Columbus, MS, Events, News, Politics

Monday’s Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting showed no thanksgiving, while Robert’s Rules of Order was bludgeoned on several occasions. With no rhyme or reason, the meeting bounced between chaos and insanity, as Learnard Dickerson attempted to explain why the organization he represented — Dream 365 — needed funding for their five-day extravaganza.

The actual request of $27,500 was lost in between arguments and discourse, starting with an original $8,000 motion from Rissa Lawrence. It took several motions, but finally the $15,000 motion was secured at the request of Dewitt Hicks. Unfortunately, this only occurred after the board argued and fussed in front of citizens and Mr. Dickerson for over 30 minutes.

George Swales, the President of the CCVB Board, lost control of the meeting on several occasions. With Bernard Buckhalter and Whirllie Byrd questioning the decisions to limit the motion to $8,000, the group often lost focus on Mr. Dickerson’s presentation, leaving him to try to control the situation with little success.

In a battle of wills, Mark Castleberry, Bart Wise and Rissa Lawrence slammed up against Whirllie Byrd and Bernard Buckhalter. With all rules of meeting and order lost, Mr. Buckhalter went on the attack against Wise and Castleberry about the amount of money that the CCVB gives to the Columbus-Lowndes Development LINK. As the meeting broke down, the arguments became personal, with Byrd and Lawrence sharing a harsh exchange. Mr. Swales stated that Byrd was out-of-order for her comments; however, Mr. Buckhalter became upset with the comment from Mr. Swales, and the meeting then went further in the wrong direction.

During this time, members of the audience began to murmur loudly, as the board tossed around numbers and ideas without any concept of time and space. The subject did turn to race; however, it quickly returned to money, the LINK, and the fact that the CCVB has only $75,000 dollars to spend on events this year — a fact that was repeated ad nauseam.

Mr. Swales did exclaim, “Can we get out of the third grade?” and told a story about digging up old potatoes and living in the past. Mr. Buckhalter then decided it was time to explain why he will continue to dig potatoes and talk about the past. It is the LINK.

The meeting then digressed into why the LINK is given so much money from the CCVB. All in all, the meeting was an utter disaster, with a complete loss of control and order.  Mr. Dickerson and Dream 365 got a percentage of their money, but left without the respect they deserved.

After this debacle, the group could not stop the insanity, with Mr. Wise and CCVB Director Nancy Carpenter trying to give an ethics report on whether Byrd had committed an ethics violation by being a CCVB Board Member, while also serving on the Legends Concert Committee, which also gets money from CCVB. Mr. Buckhalter then exploded about Wise and Carpenter having no right to contact the Attorney General about the ethics violations. Mr. Hicks stated that it was okay to contact the AG; however, it is better to act as a board and have it spread on the minutes of their meetings.

The meeting then crashed to a new low, as board members argued about how to add an amendment to the ethics motion against Whirllie Byrd. This amendment addition included seeing if Mr. Castleberry and Mr. Wise were involved in an ethics violation for quieting the LINK Board and staying on the CCVB Board — and then giving money to the LINK.

After a complete breakdown of order again, and a total lack of respect for all parliamentary procedures, the meeting came to a merciful end with a few reports from Carpenter.

In other notes, Steve Rogers did give a report that the Legends Concerts was settled, but was over $5000 short, spending all of the $35,000 the CCVB gave the organization after the donations and ticket sales were collected. The $5000 shortfall is the responsibility of the committee, whose President is Mayor Robert Smith; Mr. Rogers is the Vice President.

Gill Harris’ request for $12,005 for his own band, the Big Band Theory, to play at the Trotter Convention Center on February 3rd, was denied on the grounds that it did not meet the CCVB criteria.

Thumbs Down: The CCVB Board. Never have so many important and well-meaning people ever looked more foolish.

Thumbs up: Learnard Dickerson and Dream 365. They handled the foolishness with class and flair!


A/K/A Mr. MoJo Rising

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6 Comments on “CCVB – No Thanksgiving at Monday’s Meeting”

  1. John Dorroh Says:

    Thanks for the report about the latest CVB meeting. It sounds typical. Any surprises there? Not really. I have a question. I understand that Mark Castleberry spends most of his time in Jackson, TN, his real home. Can someone explain to me how he can be on the CVB Board when he doesn’t really have his home here? Just curious.


    • Mark Castleberry Says:

      I moved from Seattle with family and purchased a business in West Point in 1992. In about 2006 I moved my office from West Point to Columbus and moved my residency to Columbus shortly after, first renting then purchaseing a condo downtown. I have owned commercial property in Columbus for approximatly 15 years. I do have a home in Jackson, TN and spend about half my time there but my heart, money, residency and votes are in Columbus.

      Thank you for asking a constructive question and signing your name.
      Mark Castleberry


  2. Peg Says:

    What a disaster. As I read this I just want to cringe. I am so embarrassed to live in a community that has leadership fighting like 3 year olds. Never in my life have I witnessed such unprofessionalism. Shame on each and everyone of our leaders that conducted business in such a childish manner. What a great example you are showing our next generation of leaders.


  3. From MS SOS Website Says:

    RE: Mr. Castleberry, Owner, Castle Properties: It’s a matter of public record:


  4. Tom Gentry Says:

    Goodness gracious. I live in a town where the game is completely rigged. What a low down dirty shame. This proves the fact that age is just a number; maturity is a completely different ballgame. It’s a sad state of affairs when small town politics is as dirty and scandalous as Washington DC.

    Keep it up, kids. What a wonderful world you’re sustaining here. Dirtbags and pond scum. The entire lot .. What’s the population of Columbus? Whatever it is, it is completely controlled by one newspaper and one TV station and run by a handful of people that own everything and hold every office. It’s no small wonder Starkville is growing at such a fast pace.


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