Thursday, August 27, 2015
SPIN CITY: Another Record Editorial Making Excuses for City 450th Management Crew
The Record "opinionator" doth speak with forked tongue: "The focus, from the start, has been aimed at giving the town national attention, not national attendance." Really?
In 2007, Mayor JOE BOLES asked for "volunteers" to be "ambassadors" to the hordes of people who were coming for the 450th, selling it like a cross between the Second Coming and a World's Fair, saying he wanted to spend $47 million, as Jamestown did for its 400th, looking for federal funds. There were no federal funds, not even for the illegal secret meetings of the Federal St. Augustine Commemoration Commission at the Florida Cracker Cafe and Casa Monica.
Those cards we filled out in 2007 -- misplaced or thrown away.
Meanwhile, community members' great suggestions were ignored (like racial reconciliation in the spirit of the Journey exhibit on African-American history, or one map showing both Minorcan and African-American slave migration to St. Augustine, or a Civil Rights Reunion to promote healing here. Done gone. Gone with the wind.
Yes, Virginia, the 450th was supposed to be about increasing tourism. Yes, hoteliers overpriced their lodgings and will rue the day. Yes, the City ineffectively managed the 450th for eight years and the day of reckoning is coming -- will there be forensic audit in our future?
Meanwhile the Record flippantly says "The focus, from the start, has been aimed at giving the town national attention, not national attendance." That's flummery, dupery and nincompoopery -- no doubt the result of a meeting between the Minister of Propaganda (as fellow all-white managers at the City of St. Augustine long called City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. since his arrival here in 1998).
Here's the dumb 'ole Record editorial, the latest tribute to REGAN's spin-jobbery:
450th: It's not about the rooms
Posted: August 26, 2015 - 11:40pm
News is all about context and perspective. Two people can read the same story and come away with different slants.
The Record has published two stories recently on the downtown hotels not filling up for the 450th. George Gardner published a story this week as well in his online St. Augustine Report.
Our headlines read “Hotel booking numbers slim,” and “TDC ramps up ads to book last-minute travelers.” George’s head read “Celebrate 450 coming up short.”
The stories were fact-based. But how were they perceived by readers? It’s likely they came away with the notion that the celebration if fizzling.
So we have three stories based entirely on the truth, leaving many with an impression that couldn’t be much farther from the truth.
Hotel bookings are not a measure of the 450th. Attendance at the Alligator Farm that week or the number of tables filled at the Columbia Restaurant show us nothing as well. The 450th falls on Labor Day weekend. The people lodging at the Casa Monica, admiring Maximo or noshing on a “1905” Salad may be here for the beach or the art.
The 450th will draw thousand of visitors, but the majority will be day-trippers: from Jacksonville or Gainesville. It’s a good bet they’re not arriving for the first time to experience the celebration. They’re here because they love the place, and the birthday bash is a good excuse to come back. There’s a lot going on. And it’s free.
They’re not likely from out-of-state because, for the vast majority of these travelers, the celebration isn’t meaningful. Will you make plans to book a flight to Williamsburg or Jamestown when they hit a significant anniversary? Not likely. Not for that reason alone.
This celebration is for us.
We’ve heard that some residents are packing up and leaving town because of the crowds and road closures. Those people probably should go and leave room for those of us who have been given careers and contented lives, all fed by the town’s history and allure.
How many businesses would be here without history? How many of us?
How many of you chose this as the place to raise your families, at least partly because of beauty of the town? This town would not be beautiful without its history and the tremendous effort it — and we — have taken to polish and preserve it. Look back at King Street 30 years ago or Avenida Menendez or Hypolita Street — pre-heritage tourism. You would not recognize them today. Everything we have today has an absolute connection to our past. It is the spring from which the town drinks — every day.
This thing is as much about celebrating “us” as a date in time. If visitors want to share it, “welcome.” But it is being held by us, for us.
It is a party. But it is, more pointedly, a time to learn and reflect. A time to visit the “Tapestry: The Cultural Threads of First America” exhibit or to hear a re-enactor soldier speak on the street. It’s a time to more clearly understand our heritage and our singularly unique place in history.
Spain will send representatives here because we are truly a child of Iberia. The Catholic Church is intensely involved because the first prayer uttered in the New World rode a St. Augustine breeze off the Atlantic and spread across the continent.
To those of you who “get it,” we’ll see you at the party. For those of you who don’t, well ... there’s just more cake for the rest of us.
The focus, from the start, has been aimed at giving the town national attention, not national attendance.
Maybe we got it right on both counts?