Déjà vu All Over Again: The August 20, 2012 CCVB Board Meeting

August 21, 2012

CCVB, Columbus, MS, Politics


Let’s establish this from the beginning: this is not a previously published article describing what occurred at some long-past meeting of the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. It would be better for all us if it were. As tempting as it might be to simply re-print an old article, this account is actually about the August 20, 2012 CCVB Board meeting.

It all started innocently enough – or so it seemed on the surface. Board President DeWitt Hicks and CCVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter lavished praise on outgoing board member George Swales and even presented him with a “scrapbook” of sorts. Huh? What? By now, you’re probably thinking, “Didn’t Swales submit his resignation from the board at the end of July?” Well yes, folks – indeed he did.

You may remember that Swales submitted a letter of resignation – which we published – to the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors (who appointed him), on Thursday, July 26. This letter stated “…such resignation to be effective on August 15, 2012 or on the appointment of a successor – whichever comes first.”

Thus, it no doubt came as a surprise to some when Swales showed up at the meeting, took a seat, and began to participate in votes. Our research has led us to conclude that even some board members were caught off guard by Swales’ continued involvement in board matters.

Here’s the twist. Upon reviewing a copy of the minutes of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors’ July 31, 2012 meeting, we discovered that the Supervisors had voted to accept Swales’ resignation, but the resignation was to take effect Sept. 4, 2012. And that’s why Swales was able to participate in this most recent meeting of the CCVB Board.

While all of this is no doubt within the letter of the law, it still smacks of the shenanigans for which the CCVB Board has, sadly, become known.

Although it is not the media’s role to be the CCVB’s PR firm, here’s a little unsolicited advice: If you (the Board) were more forthcoming with what you are doing, the public, including the media, would not be left to speculate as to what goes on behind the scenes.

Another matter that consumed a good portion of the meeting was a discussion of the incident that occurred at the regular July meeting, wherein then-President George Swales informed the media that they could not sit in the board room, because moving chairs into the board room “would scratch up the floor.” If this matter were not so serious, that justification would be laughable. Interestingly, the concern over the condition of the flooring was short-lived, as the CCVB allowed a high school reunion to be held at their offices, less than two weeks after the crudely handled ejection of the media.

During the CEO Report, which always comes at the end of the agenda, a motion was made to spend approximately $10,000 to purchase audio/video equipment that would allow the board members to be seen and heard in both the board room and the adjacent reception area. During the discussion over this appropriation Board member Harvey Myrick asked, “We are not going to try to exclude the media from this room, even after we get this equipment”? Both Hicks and Carpenter replied, “No. No.”

In between these matters, the meeting was rife with the non-stop bickering for which the board has become known.

Although regular attendees at CCVB meetings may have become jaded over the antics that take place, one first-time visitor was heard to exclaim, ‘Well, that was an eye-opener!”

If you only know the half of it!

The Real Story Staff Report


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3 Comments on “Déjà vu All Over Again: The August 20, 2012 CCVB Board Meeting”

  1. Thom Geiger Says:

    Good grief. Thirty years and Mr. Hicks hasn’t changed since threatening me for having a tape recorder at a Columbus CC meeting. So this is how it’s going to be. The media is allowed into the board room and the public gets to sit outside.
    I remember the night I was threatened at the CC meeting. There were two newspaper reporters sitting in front of me and two network TV cameras and two TV reporters in the room, yet my puny tape recorder got the counselor-at-law’s (and then mayor Fannon’s) dander up enough to use the police chief to force me to turn my recorder off.
    Immediately after the meeting, the press and media gathered around Mr. Hicks, fearful that the ban on recording might extend to them, with Mr. Hicks trying to calm them all with assurances that only the public was affected and not the media and the press. So here we are thirty years later, and Mr. Hicks is still trying to throw a bone to the press and media, to placate them into ignoring the rights of the public citizen.
    And what does Mr. Hicks intend to do with an uppity citizen, a non-media nobody, who refuses to honor the media only, private viewing gallery scheme this is turning out to be? Threaten them with arrest?
    I’m absolutely positive one newspaper in town will be more than happy to see a media only presence in the board room. As I wrote in an earlier message some months ago, the media that deserves public respect are the ones who respect the rights of the public. I lost respect for that one newspaper when repeated threats to private citizens attempting to attend and record public meetings have been deemed a non-issue.
    BTW, when and where will the next meeting of the CCVB be held? I was recovering from surgery and missed this one. I think maybe it’s time the board, and Mr. Hicks, got the chance to enforce its new rule. Seeing that this board of enlightened persons, at a time when Mr. Brooks and Mr. Karriem are fighting over a few thousand dollars, is going to spend $10,000 just to try and keep the general public out of the meeting room. Then again, with ten grand in video equipment, they won’t a reason not to stream the meetings live on the internet. Think about that one, honorable board members.


  2. Robert Says:

    Who in their right mind would want to serve on a board with these clowns. It will be of interest as to who the Board of Supervisors put on in place of Mr Swales. Who ever it is Mr Sanders will dictate who! Leroy will Bitch and John and Bill will say Yes Sir Mr Harry.


  3. Robert Says:

    Leon Ellis will be the new CVB member.


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