BY RON WILLIAMS
It appears that the city of Columbus will, once again, set a precedent. I say once again because it seems to be setting precedents quite a bit lately. This time, they might have created their very own Columbus Conventions and Visitors Bureau. (I mean, heck, if the folks you appoint to the real CVB can’t get the job done, just start up your own! Throw those taxpayer dollars out there with no stipulations or accountability! Why not?)
District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks went before the city council Tuesday evening seeking $2,500 for the Juneteenth Festival, coming up on June 14 and 15. He said that the African-American Cultural Organization (of which he controls) would match those funds. (Keep in mind, this is the same Leroy Brooks that turned down $15,000 from the real Columbus Conventions & Visitors Bureau because of “personality conflicts!” Granted, only 25 percent of that $15,000 could go toward entertainment, but that’s still $3750, $1250 more than what he’s asking from city taxpayers. And he wouldn’t have had to match the funds from the CCVB! In fact, Ward 6 City Councilman Bill Gavin spelled this very fact out! With that said, I do agree with Supervisor Brooks that the CVB guidelines involving the percentage of grant money that goes to entertainment should be changed, Brooks still turned the money down. That never made sense.)
From the time that I learned that Brooks would be coming before the council to ask for funds for the event, the vote whether to fund or not (from the city council) was never in doubt. Never! It ended up 4-2 in favor of (yes, down racial lines, again, sadly.)
During his appeal for funds (he didn’t have to beg or threaten political payback as with the real CVB because he probably knew ahead of time that the only two naysayers to his funds request would be Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin and Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box – which turned out to be the case, again, as expected), Brooks seem to suggest that a festival is all about the musical entertainment it offers (never mind the arts & crafts or the actual reason for the festival to start with). “The truth is, most festivals are entertainment-oriented. If you don’t have good music, people won’t come. One of the interesting things, I went down to the Market Street Festival this weekend, a fantastic festival. But as I walked around, not many people were paying attention to the singers on the stage. Because it’s not the kind of music that a lot of people like,” Brooks told the council Tuesday. (Wow. Those musical acts included the very popular Keith & Margie, Big Joe Shelton, Johnny Coleman, Linda Gail Lewis and many more. The Friday night show, which is strictly an entertainment-based draw and included headliners Mother’s Finest and the always popular Juke Joint Gypsies, was washed out and canceled because of the rain. That particular entertainment-based draw also carries a $10 per person charge to attend. The Saturday festival acts are designed to compliment the festival itself and are not designed to be the actual draw for Market Street Festival). His statement that most festivals are entertainment-oriented is true, however, in most cases.
Gavin and Box both warned of “setting a precedent”. “We have committee’s, with policies, to fund these festivals. If we open it up and the city starts putting money into these festivals, then every one of them are going to come up here wanting money that we don’t have. We’ve already budgeted our year. You know how you are (Supervisor Brooks) with the county (budget). We’re straining right now with sales tax” Councilman Box told Brooks.
But all of that reasoning was ignored and four city councilmen agreed with Brooks. And as I’ve said before…the beat goes on!
Karriem and McFarland Nearly Lock Up
At the Union Academy precinct during yesterday’s municipal primary, Ward 5 City Councilman Kabir Karriem was reportedly told by challenger Kenneth McFarland, “I’m gonna beat you worse than Robert did”. (I assume he’s talking about the infamous almost-fisticuffs between Mayor Smith and Councilman Karriem at the city hall building a few years back.) The problem with that statement is, that incident never came to actual blows. Robert didn’t ‘beat’ Karriem!
And neither did McFarland on Tuesday!
Bill Luckett Wins Democrat Mayoral Primary in Clarksdale
Among the many statewide municipal primaries races Tuesday, Bill Luckett won the Democratic primary for Clarksdale mayor Tuesday. Luckett defeated popular State Representative Chuck Espy and educational consultant Doris Haynes Miller. He’ll now face Republican Angie Smith and two independents, Roger Weiner and Bradford Fair, in the June 4th general election.
Luckett ran for governor two years ago but was defeated in the Democratic primary in his first taste of the political process. Many feel that Luckett will win the mayor’s job come June 4th in Clarksdale, a city facing many of the same problems as Columbus. Luckett shares ownership of Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale with Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman.
Ron Williams is a staff writer for The Columbus Packet. He can be reached at Ronsings2u@aol.com.
The views and opinions expressed in Ron Williams’ columns are the author’s and are not those of The Columbus Packet or Packet Media, LLC.0