Saturday, June 23, 2007

The View From The Cheap Seats by Jerry Hafferkamp

The View From The Cheap Seats
By Jerry Haferkamp

Several years ago, Senator Everett Dirkson of Illinois made a comment concerning government spending saying “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money”. This quote came to mind while watching the report on the Convention Center at the past council meeting. It was somewhat unnerving to hear our mayor gushing over the Convention Center’s success in that it only lost a half million or so this past year. Even worse was her almost giddiness that it is on target to repeat. And please, don’t even ask how tourism has increased since it was built.

The white elephant that was supposed to bring tourists to our “world class” destination has only 1 percent of its bookings as conventions. While 6 percent of the gross revenue came from conventions, a full 55 percent came from meetings and banquets. Meetings and banquets don’t bring in tourists. These events draw business away from already existing privately owned facilities. There is nothing like a government entity, supported by taxes competing unfairly with private enterprise. It makes one wonder why the supporters of private enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce, supported the construction of the center. I wonder if they would support a government owned, tax financed car dealership that would unfairly compete with our local dealership.

While writing under the banner of “Put St. Charles First” I warned that as it fails, the proponents would say we need to build it bigger. While not directly putting this misconception into play, the point was made several times during the presentation that we lost the booking of many events because we were too small. Hold onto your wallets, folks. I don’t think it will be long before we’re told we can save this sinking ship by making it bigger.

In the meanwhile, just keep paying taxes to continue the support of government undermining private enterprise.

Re: Recall petitions. Is Jack Banas going to do his job? You really think so? To quote Moms Mabley, “Well, give me a hit on whatever that is you are smoking before you step on it”.

Of course, that’s just the view from the cheap seats.