During a stormy Feb. 27 meeting, the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau discussed their financial situation, the need for a policy governing credit card usage, hiring a board attorney and funding levels for the Market Street and Juneteenth festivals.
Financial issues and credit card policy
Treasurer Bart Wise reported on the CVB’s current financial situation. Wise said a recent windfall would be used to help meet the CVB’s obligation to fund part of the renovation of the old river bridge.
“In January we got a windfall on our tax receipts of around $169,000,” he said, “which is a little over $50,000 more than we expected. We took that excess and put it in the bridge reserve fund. The city is moving forward on that project and is looking to get started. Payment will be due sometime around August. Our share is $133,000. We’ve been paying down $8,000 per month on our line of credit, and October through January we’ve accumulated $32,000, plus this $50,000 is $82,000. By January if we keep this up we will have accumulated $133,000. We’ll be on track there. That is an expense we had not anticipated coming on this year.”
“I’m still puzzled as to why we didn’t budget for that bridge payment,” said Bernard Buckhalter. “We knew we had to make it. It should have been budgeted so we’d have it there just in case it came up.”
“We probably should have,” Wise said. “If you’ll recall at the budget meeting that we had we all discussed it and we were told by the city that it wasn’t going to come up, that it would be in the next year’s budget because they didn’t have the money at the time. That’s what I remember.”
“I spoke with [City Engineer Kevin Stafford] this week and he said we could end up being invoiced as early as July,” Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said.
Buckhalter then asked the board to establish a policy governing credit card use. [At the board’s last meeting, there was a very combative discussion of Carpenter’s credit card usage. The issue was tabled after it devolved into a shouting match between Wise, Carpenter and Whirllie Byrd. – Brian Jones]
“I will say that that really…we put it under a microscope to the point that we almost can’t operate as an organization because we’re scared somebody is going to call foul,” Wise said. “We are audited every year. The auditors look at the charges and where it’s going. We are supplying details every month with the credit card, you can see every expenditure and where it goes. [Carpenter] has implemented an in-house policy that nothing under $50 can be charged on the credit card. It has to go through petty cash and be reimbursed there. I don’t know what else we can do.”
“That’s not what my concern is about,” Buckhalter said. “I want to see an amount that cannot be gone over without board approval.”
“Really what you’re saying is that any expenditure that the executive director makes should have board approval,” Wise said. “You want her to have to get approval is it’s over a certain amount. That’s going to hamstring her operations.”
“I disagree,” Buckhalter said. “We work through this board. We need to have a control on the credit card. I don’t want to see that go back up to $20,000 a month.”
“Let’s go back to the purpose of a budget,” Wise said. “At the beginning of the year we set specific line items for certain expenditures and we expect the executive director to stay within budget. Whether it’s a credit card or a check I don’t see how that matters. It’s an expense. As long as it’s within the budget I think she has the prerogative.” “We have credit card expenditures up to $20,000 a month,” Buckhalter said.
“State when that was,” Carpenter broke in.
“This was in March 2010,” Buckhalter said.
“Long before I was here,” Carpenter said.
“In February 2011 we had $10,000,” Buckhalter said. “June 2011 $13,000.”
“Last month it was either $1,500 or $1,600,” Carpenter said. “This month it was $1,200. It’s fine with me if we cut the credit card up. We spend way too much time talking about the credit card. We’ve implemented policies that will hold us…the only reason that I’ve not said to do away with it is that it’s hard to do business without it. If we order books, for example, they want a credit card. We don’t want to have to wait to send them a check and then wait for it to clear before they send us our books. That could be a month.”
“The point I’m trying it to make is that it happened, and it could happen again,” Buckhalter said. “I’m not saying you’re doing it. I’m just saying if we don’t have something in place, it’ll happen again.”
“Even in the previous administration when it ran up to $20,000, there was nothing in there that was fraudulent,” Wise said. “It was a matter of record keeping.”
“We document everything now,” Carpenter said. “We have nothing unsubstantiated. Bart Wise looks at every single charge and receipt.”
“I still think we should set a limit on the credit card that can be spent without board approval,” Buckhalter said. “Once the credit card is spent, there’s nothing to approve. All we can do is pay it.”
DeWitt Hicks made a motion to set a $1,000 limit on unapproved credit card expenditures with a second from Buckhalter. Hicks’s motion also forbade making credit card payments on-line.
“I can work under that,” Carpenter said. “The only issue I see is with travel for multiple people.”
The motion passed 5-3, with Castleberry, Rissa Lawrence and Wise voting no.
During a discussion of the 2011 audit, Buckhalter questioned $35,000 that was undocumented.
“We had three gentlemen on the payroll that were paid over $35,000 that was listed as ‘cleaning’,” Wise said. “The auditor could not substantiate that they actually worked. There were no personnel records. No social security numbers, no date of employment, there were no time cards in a lot of cases. When there were time cards, they were not approved and signed by anybody.” [This item occurred before Carpenter became executive director. – Brian Jones] “Who cut the check for that?” Byrd asked.
“The executive director was responsible for that,” Wise said. “The person at the top is responsible for making sure accounting functions were being taken care of.”
“After Pilgrimage in 2010 we didn’t need these people anymore,” Carpenter said. “We had moved our offices over to the Elks Lodge. I was asked to tell them they were no longer needed, even though they did not report to me. I told them it was their last week, and they went to the director and said they really wanted their job and for some reason they were kept for months. I had done what I was asked to and the director said they could stay. Sometimes they were charged to the bus, sometimes they were charged to the welcome center, sometimes their services were charged even though we had a cleaning group. We didn’t even have a building to be cleaned, we were in the other building where there were cleaning services.”
“It wasn’t shoddy accounting, it was shoddy management,” Wise said.
“I’m not comfortable with this,” Byrd said. “This is serious. I’m seeing red flags all over.”
Byrd made a motion to ask the state auditor to come in and audit the CVB books, but her motion died for lack of a second.
Hiring a board attorney
At the board’s last meeting, Carpenter announced that she was advertising for a board attorney. At Monday’s meeting she returned with a list of three applicants: Scott and Wilbur O. Colom of the Colom Law Firm; Jeff Smith of Sims and Sims; and Chris Latimer of Mitchell McNutt and Sams. Carpenter sent out letters to local attorneys and ran an ad in the local newspaper. The ad called for a general counsel attorney who would serve on an “as needed” basis. Applications were due February 14.
The discussion quickly turned into a 20-minute argument about conflicts of interest and the qualifications of the candidates. [DeWitt Hicks, who is an attorney in Columbus, immediately recused himself. – Brian Jones] Buckhalter got the melee started by suggesting the board hire the lowest bidder, which was the Colom Law Firm. [Full disclosure: I am a former employee of The Colom Law Firm and currently perform freelance work for Wilbur Colom’s publishing company. – Brian Jones] “In a professional service, that is not something you need to be concerned with,” Carpenter said.
“I understand that,” Buckhalter said. “All the attorneys here are more than capable. All of them have experience. That’s why I said the lowest bidder.”
Buckhalter made a motion to hire The Colom Law Firm, and was seconded by Byrd.
“I think the hourly rate is the incorrect marker to choose,” Castleberry said. “How much work they produce in an hour is going to depend on what their expertise actually is.”
“All of them have board experience,” Buckhalter said. “That’s why I recommended we go with the low bid.”
“I disagree that they all have equal public board experience,” Castleberry said.
“Can we get the executive director’s recommendation?” asked President George Swales.
“I recommend Chris Latimer,” Carpenter said. “I need to have someone that I can call and get a response from in a timely manner. He’s got the experience serving a public body and he has extensive public body work.”
“Mr. Chairman, whose attorney are we hiring?” Buckhalter asked.
“The general counsel for the CVB,” Swales said.
“The board needs to decide that, not the executive director,” Buckhalter said. “I don’t have a problem with the executive director having an opinion, but we need to base it on the board. It’s the attorney for the board, not the executive director.”
“The processes that I’m familiar with is that 90% of the work for the counsel will be with the administrator,” Swales said.
“The attorney serves the board, not just the executive director,” Buckhalter said. “He serves the executive director through the board.”
“I only said that—” Carpenter said.
“I’m trying to explain why I asked the question,” Buckhalter interrupted. “But the way he worded it was like he wanted you to recommend the attorney.”
“I did state that I wanted someone who would be quick to respond to us,” Carpenter said.
“Have you worked with any of these before?” asked Nadia Dale.
“I know each one of them,” Carpenter said. “I think [Latimer] will be responsive to our needs.”
“How do you know the others won’t be?” Dale asked.
“I didn’t say they wouldn’t be,” Carpenter said. “He asked for my recommendation.”
Lawrence questioned Dale’s relationship with Scott Colom.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I do know that someone on this board has a close personal relationship with one of these attorneys,” Lawrence said.
“I have a close relationship with Scott Colom but I don’t see what that has to do with anything,” Dale said.
“It seems to me to be a conflict of interest,” Lawrence said. “It’s a close personal relationship.”
“I can recuse myself from the vote,” Dale said. “I don’t see what that has to do with whether he’s qualified.”
“I kept waiting for you to recuse yourself,” Lawrence said.
“I still don’t know why I would,” Dale said. “I’m not married.”
“But you do have a very close personal relationship,” Lawrence said.
“How do you know she has one?” Byrd asked.
“We happened to dine in the same place for Valentine’s Day,” Dale said. “My only point of concern is that we are doing this fairly.”
[I tend to agree with Ms. Lawrence here. Ms. Dale and Mr. Colom may not be married, but they do have a close personal relationship, and it’s more than a little hinky that she would be voting to give him work. Situations like these are a fine example of why the board needs an attorney who is present at board meetings. – Brian Jones] “I think they’re all very qualified,” Carpenter said. “I know of Latimer’s representation of the city of Starkville, and that’s my recommendation.”
The motion to hire The Colom Law Firm failed, with Byrd and Buckhalter voting in favor and Swales, Wise, Castleberry and Lawrence voting against. Hicks and Dale did not vote.
Byrd then made another motion to hire The Colom Law Firm. She was seconded by Buckhalter. [I’m unsure if this was a proper motion. Under Robert’s Rules, you must have an intervening action – that is, another vote – before you can bring up a failed motion again. I’m assuming Mr. Swales allowed it because Mr. Buckhalter’s motion was to hire the lowest bidder, while Ms. Byrd’s was to hire that law firm specifically. This is another example of why the board desperately needs an attorney present at board meetings. – Brian Jones] “[Colom Law Firm] has a nice long list of boards they represent,” she said.
“If I may point out their experience,” Castleberry said, “they represented the Noxubee County Board of Education, but that ended 18 years ago. The City of Crawford, that ended 15 years ago. The Noxubee County Board of Supervisors, that ended 12 years ago. Public law has changed a bit, and I don’t see an indication that the firm is actively involved in public work.”
“What are we trying to do?” Buckhalter said. “They’re not coming to board meetings. They will represent us as needed. That don’t even apply.”
“I disagree with you— ” Castleberry said.
“That’s just your opinion,” Buckhalter interrupted. “I have a problem that you’re saying they’re not qualified.”
Wise made an amendment that rather than having one attorney the board hire specialists in whatever field is needed.
“In other words, if we have a labor situation we hire a labor attorney,” he said.
His amendment failed for lack of a second.
Once it came to a vote, Byrd’s motion to hire The Colom Law Firm failed, with only Buckhalter and Byrd voting yes.
Lawrence then made a motion to hire Latimer, and was seconded by Castleberry.
“How did you reach the decision to hire Latimer?” Byrd asked.
“I’ve worked with him quite a bit in the city of Starkville,” Castleberry said. “We have construction projects over there and I’ve been to city council meetings in the city of Starkville and he seems to represent the city well.”
“If you worked with him, that’s a conflict of interest,” Buckhalter interjected.
“I said that poorly,” Castleberry said. “He’s on the other side of the event. He’s never worked for me.” “If you look at his résumé it talks about things that he’s done and what he’s doing presently,” Lawrence said.
“I didn’t look at his résumé,” Buckhalter said.
“We can’t make an informed decision if only one person sent in his résumé,” Byrd said. “I’d like to table this.”
“We didn’t ask for it, he’s the only one who sent it,” Carpenter said. “I asked for their hourly rate and experience. The majority of [Latimer’s] experience is based on defending pubic entities and federal and state litigation.”
The board, after some more back and forth, hired Latimer on a 4-3 vote, with Dale, Byrd and Buckhalter voting no. [Dale had announced above that she was recusing herself, but voted here anyway. My understanding of a recusal is that the board member in question does not vote at all, nor does he or she participate in the discussion. Not to beat a dead horse, but a board attorney would have been able to straighten all this out. – Brian Jones] Byrd then interjected that Mitchell McNutt and Sams has a conflict of interest with the CVB, referring to a conflict several years ago when the firm had to pay back some money to the CVB.
“We had some potential litigation with them,” she said.
“I didn’t realize we had a conflict with them,” Buckhalter said. “Is this the law firm that had to pay back money? That is a conflict. You can look at it any way you want to, but it’s a conflict.”
[I’m not familiar with the issue they’re referring to. The board indulged in a lot of finger-pointing and arguing over whether Mitchell McNutt and Sams was compelled to pay the board money back and whether there was any litigation, and whether or not this was a conflict of interest, until Mr. Swales moved to the next agenda item. If only there were a professional who could be present at board meetings to offer guidance in matters such as these. The board should look into that. – Brian Jones] Festival funding
At the board’s January meeting, three organizations applied for grant funding: Grilling on the River, the Market Street Festival, and Juneteenth. Those requests were tabled until this month’s meeting. In the interim, Grilling on the River withdrew their request for funds.
There is very little money in the grant fund, and a recommendation that both festivals only be partially funded turned into another lengthy argument.
The Market Street Festival was discussed first. It originally asked for $25,000. Carpenter recommended $11,700.
“In FY12 we have budgeted $100,000 and we carried over from last year $26,250, and you know we did not have as much money to work with,” Carpenter said. [In other words, the board has about $74,000 in the pot. – Brian Jones] “In all fairness, instead of just looking at Market Street we need to look at what we’ve done. We allocated $15,000 to MLK, and by so doing we have a smaller pot. That’s even with putting the $6,000 Grilling on the River requested back in. Right now if we fund what they’ve requested we’re leaving an even smaller pot for the festivals later in the summer.”
Buckhalter immediately went on the attack.
“There was a motion made at the last meeting for the Finance Committee to try to find some extra money for the festivals,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything on that.”
“I asked that we put that extra money from the city in the festival fund,” Byrd said. “We could have moved that into that area and just kept putting in $8,000 a month like we are now on the bridge.”
“I thought the Finance Committee was going to bring back a report, but I haven’t heard anything,” Buckhalter said. “These committees are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
“When we built the budget, we went line item by line item,” Wise said. “If you go through today and start moving things around, you’re going to destroy the budget, as we’ve talked about before. You’re going to crash our whole mission for what we’re trying to accomplish for the year if you start moving things from one item to the next.”
“I think $74,000 is grossly inadequate,” Hicks said. “I think it’s time to look at everything we’ve got. Market Street is a big event and has grown enormously because of the CVB. We’ve backed them every year, and to not back them now shows we don’t know what we’re doing.”
“That mentality is what put us $50,000 over budget in previous years,” Castleberry said. “I think also we need to keep in mind that a $74,000 budget is significantly larger than that of any other community.”
“This isn’t any other community,” Hicks said. “We’re talking about Columbus.”
“These large amounts of money are totally out of character in other communities,” Castleberry said. “The numbers have skyrocketed, and it’s unsustainable. I appreciate the difficult calls that the school system has had to make. They’ve spent too much money in times past and now they have to make tough calls. We have to make a tough call. We’re fortunate we’re not having to fire 50 people and do the things other organizations are. We’re dealing with it, and we can do better next year.”
“The board voted for the committee to go and look,” Buckhalter said, returning to his point. “They weren’t told to tell us that the budget is fine the way it is and all that. I don’t care who thinks the budget is perfect. If it was perfect we would have had the bridge in there in the beginning. The board needs to go and look and see and find the money.”
“The budget is not perfect,” Wise said. “The Finance Committee cannot run the day to day operations. We can’t go in and pick the expenses that need to be cut.”
“It seems to me we got awfully close to a vote, and maybe voted, to put a cap on festivals,” Hicks said. “If we did that we wouldn’t have to come in here and plow the same ground every year. To cut grants because of mistakes in the past is wrong. We need to look at the overall picture. To say we’re going to stick with that $74,000 figure no matter what happens is wrong.”
“I don’t frankly know where else you’re going to squeeze,” Swales.
“In 2008 this organization had over a million in unencumbered cash,” Wise said. “Today we’ve got $130,000 maybe that’s unencumbered and we’ve got over $700,000 in debt.”
“We shouldn’t have bought this building,” Hicks said.
“I wasn’t on the board then,” Wise said.
“I voted against it,” Hicks said.
“It doesn’t matter if you voted against it or for it,” Wise said. “We had over a million dollars in cash. Today we’ve got around $130,000 and $700,000 in debt. If you think we need to keep spending, we’ll have zero unencumbered cash and we’ll still have the debt and we’ll still be unable to fund these grants. It’s a tough decision, but at some point we’ve got to balance the budget. Last year it was $177,000 in the red.”
“I think Market Street is a wonderful festival, but I don’t think they would end up being hurt,” Lawrence said. “They had a $13,000 profit that they’re bringing forward as startup money.”
“The entire board needs to look at the budget, not just the Finance Committee, and see what we can do,” Buckhalter said. “Maybe we can find some money.”
Byrd made a motion that the entire board look at the budget in an attempt to find additional grant funding, and was seconded by Buckhalter. The motion passed 4-3, with Lawrence, Castleberry and Wise voting no.
“I think we need to give whatever we want to Market Street and Juneteenth,” Buckhalter said. “Let’s just give them whatever we can. We don’t need to cripple either Market Street or Juneteenth. Then if we find additional funds we can give them more.”
The board asked Market Street Director Amber Brislin and District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks, both of whom were present, to address the effect of reduced funding on their festivals. [Once again no one thought it odd that Mr. Brooks, a politician whose board appoints CVB board members, should then ask the board for funding. – Brian Jones] Brooks was the first to speak.
“What are you all recommending for Juneteenth?” Brooks asked. [Juneteenth asked for $15,000. – Brian Jones] “The amount is $9,400,” Carpenter said.
“I appreciate that, but if $9,000 is all you can give me we will not accept that,” Brooks said. “I’m not going to create a situation that is devastating. We cannot do it for $9,000. To talk about coming back later…we can’t plan on that. If that’s all you’re willing to give us, I’d like to refuse that. It’s impossible to do Juneteenth with $9,000. I’ll wait around to see what the board is going to do, but $9,000 will not work for us. To say wait and see…we can’t plan. We’re already behind, and we can’t plan like that. That’s not a good place for us to do business.”
“You’ve seen our budget, and we are really tight,” she said. “We’ve been going forward with the planning with at least the amount we had last year, which is $20,000. One thing that was asked of us was that we do an economic impact survey, and we did that. For an event that brings over $7 million into the community, it’s a disgrace to the taxpayers to go backwards.”
Swales called for a motion, triggering a bizarre sequence of motions and countermotions that sounded less like the actions of a deliberative body and more like an auction.
Hicks was the first bidder, making a motion to give Market Street $20,000. He was seconded by Byrd. The motion was defeated 4-4, with Buckhalter, Dale, Byrd and Hicks voting yes and Swales, Wise, Castleberry and Lawrence voting no.
Byrd then made a motion to fund Market Street at $18,000. Her motion died for lack of a second, and Lawrence moved that Market Street receive Carpenter’s recommendation of $11,700. She was seconded by Castleberry, but the motion again deadlocked 4-4; Buckhalter, Dale, Byrd and Hicks voted no and Swales, Wise, Castleberry and Lawrence voted yes.
Hicks made a motion that Market Street receive $15,000 and was seconded by Dale.
“I hope that board will be kind enough to give Market Street at least $15,000,” Byrd said. “It’s a viable program and it must go on. I wish more board members knew the impact Market Street had.”
“I think it’s a great organization,” Wise said. “It’s a great festival. It’s just at some point we’ve got to keep the budget balanced.”
“We do have an extra $50,000 that came in from the city this past month,” Byrd said. “We do have money. You have just chosen to take it and move it someplace else all on your own. It wasn’t a board decision.”
“The board voted…or I think it got crammed down the previous board’s throat, this $133,000 in liability for the bridge,” Wise said. “We are obligated to fund it whether we like it or not. It’s real, it’s there, and we’ve got to fund it come August.”
“We’re in February,” Hicks said. “We have a fiscal year that begins October the first. We’re considerably over budget right now in anticipated revenues. The probability is we will continue…we’ve added Chick-Fil-A and Bojangles and the increase is going to be there. I think it’s [?] to not fund Market Street.”
“Betting on what may happen is a very irresponsible way to budget,” Castleberry said. “When we get to that point that will be wonderful if that really does happen and we don’t have carry-over.”
“It was irresponsible on our part not to budget for the bridge,” Buckhalter said. “It should have been in the budget all along.”
“Mr. Buckhalter, we have heard that discussion numerous times,” Swales said.
“It’s a fact,” Buckhalter said.
“It contributes nothing to the issue that is before us,” Swales said.
“Don’t minimize what I say,” Buckhalter said.
Swales called for a vote, and the motion passed 5-3 with Lawrence, Castleberry and Wise voting no.
[As the Market Street vote was drawing to a close board member Harvey Myrick, who had been delayed at work, arrived. – Brian Jones]
With Market Street funded, Buckhalter made a motion to give Juneteenth $15,000. He was seconded by Byrd, but the motion failed 4-4 with Castleberry, Wise, Lawrence and Swales voting no and Dale, Byrd, Buckhalter and Hicks voting yes. Myrick abstained.
Lawrence made a motion to fund Juneteenth at the level recommended by Carpenter. She was seconded by Castleberry, but the motion failed, again deadlocking 4-4. Lawrence, Castleberry, Swales and Wise voted yes, with Dale, Byrd, Buckhalter and Hicks voting no. Myrick abstained.
Byrd made a motion to fund Juneteenth at $14,500, and was seconded by Dale. Before a vote could be called, Myrick broke in and asked if Byrd would amend her motion and give Juneteenth $14,000. She did so, and the motion carried 5-4, with Byrd, Buckhalter, Dale, Hicks and Myrick voting yes and Swales, Castleberry, Lawrence and Wise voting no.
As the meeting drew to a close, Carpenter defended the decision to close the Welcome Center on Sundays.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the Welcome Center,” she said. “I want you to understand that in no way are we ditching the Welcome Center. It has been said that Nancy Carpenter does not care about the Welcome Center and she just wants to get rid of it. I would not have accepted the position on the department of archives and history board if I was into ditching historic buildings. It has been said that because we were not open on Sunday afternoon that we would not receive funding. Again nothing could be further from the truth. We receive no funding from the state. If you are not an official welcome center, you do not receive state funding. They don’t pay our employees. We pay for the cleaning and the upkeep. We just spent a half million dollars…why would we spend a half million dollars and then say that we don’t want it to be a welcome center? It’s just not true. I know that that will be reported in the media.” [This was an apparent reference to Joe St. John’s article in the Real Story web site on January 9, where he took the CVB to task for closing the center on Sundays. – Brian Jones] “Are we going to reopen again on Sundays?” Byrd asked.
“I’ve got all the numbers and the numbers say that five or six people are coming in on Sunday afternoon,” Carpenter said. “Most welcome centers are, because of the cost of gas, having a decline in the numbers of visitors…for the first time since 2007 we had over 10,000 visitors. Four thousand of those came during March and April during the Pilgrimage. We can discuss and argue but the truth is on any day I can tell you how many visitors, how many states and countries are represented.”
“Did you compare yourself to other communities around us?” Byrd asked.
“Clinton and Hattiesburg are not open on Sunday,” Carpenter said. “Tupelo is not open on Saturday or Sunday. During special events, when there’s something that’s going to carry over through the weekend, are we going to be open? You better believe it. It just did not make sense…and it has helped our bills. We’re turning the heat or air conditioner off on Saturday afternoon and don’t turn it on again until Monday morning.”
[Last month was my first experience attending a Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting. Following that meeting, I told Packet political writer Ron Williams that I was shocked by what I saw. After my second meeting, I have moved right on from shocked and into “appalled”. The fact that these guys honestly believe they don’t need an attorney – in other words, a responsible adult – present at their meetings would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.
The people of Columbus deserve better. The people of Columbus deserve qualified, trained officials with an understanding of and respect for the law and a familiarity with the way a board works. Instead we have a CVB whose meetings resemble MMA bouts. Our mayor and city council, when given the opportunity to require some form of training for their appointees, chose to do nothing. Instead of the public servants we need, we get city boards packed with appointees who are either clueless or indifferent. And we wonder why people are fleeing the city. – Brian Jones]