Since Raeanne Presley took her oath of office Branson City Hall looks more like a money laundering operation than a public body that serves the people. The consequences of malfeasance will be felt for years to come despite nearly $200,000,000 in new sales from the Branson Landing - a property which our "launderer-in-chief tries to degrade at every opportunity.
Last week the Branson Chamber of Commerce was thwarted from spending $5,000 on booze to lure tourism leaders. Of course, the watchdogs that stopped the expense will soon be released from duty to be replaced by bankers which - as the new standard dictates - exchange cash on a regular basis with our mayor.
Outside of a 50 mile radius the "Presley Cave Show" isn't well known. Tourism marketers note there is very little demand for the venue unlike well known names such as Andy Williams, which unlike the "Cave Show" actually have some national name recognition.
While tax revenue is flowing at record highs we continue to invest money marketing venues that don't give a return on investment. That is, our older venues aren't attracting a new audience. The aging bus-touring senior market continues to be a cash cow for the older theaters such as the Mayor's private business which is dictating how we spend millions of tax dollars promoting Branson. In the long term this is a failing proposition. While blue-hair-bus travel may be key to income for the mayor's private business for a few more seasons, it's a dying mode of travel waning with each tourist season.
In an article titled, "Local Government Privatization 101" published in a zine named after the main component lacking at city hall "Reason" states:
"All forms of privatization are simply policy tools—they can be effective when used well and ineffective when used incorrectly. The reason privatization works is simple: it introduces competition into an otherwise monopolistic system of public service delivery. Governments operate free from competitive forces and without a bottom line. Thus, program structures and approaches often stagnate, and success is not always visible and is hard to replicate. Worse, since budgets are not linked to performance in a positive way, too often poor performers in government get rewarded as budget increases follow failure."
The key word is monopoly. Tracking tax money is a fairly easy thing to do. If the mayor is on the board of private business they're sure to get payment. Oversight of the Branson Chamber of Commerce has decreased and regulations regarding proper use of tourism tax dollars are disregarded without consequence.
Three of Presley's lobbying partners received land contracts last month. Record revenue is matched with record spending and city departments are told, "the Branson Landing debt" us forcing us to cut back.
The Branson Landing is generating new business; its Presley debt that is forcing every other office to cut back. For instance a million dollar line item titled "Mayor and Board of Alderman" and another "Million Dollar - Sue Competitor Fund" (legal expense) are ultimately ignored to build distaste for the massive economic expansion which ignores the show our mayor boosts with public funds.
We owe a lot to Branson's founding families, but we don't owe our children.
In fact, we owe it to our children to look into the future because maintaining the subsidies to a few private businesses that provide poverty wages doesn't provide much of a future. We need to let these businesses compete in a free-market and allow new businesses to arise. Its not about hate, disrespect for certain families contribution; but rather allowing the same opportunities that allowed families to succeed in Branson to begin with. None of the businesses would be successful today if their was an existing hierarchy fighting against the basic free market principles.
The Presley's weren't the first show on the strip. They just moved down the street (main street) to escape corruption of a former city leader. They fought hard to refrain from being a part of Branson and ensued in several lawsuits against the city right up until they finally got one of their own in office. As the song dictates, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"
Dismantling the strong economic engine and draining the budget is much easier from the inside - the marker of success of our current administration..
We need to take a hard look at the impact of the past few years, the economic failure that has arisen from corruption, failure to acknowledge free-market principals and common sense ethics that have evaded our leaders as they move tax funds to their partnering interests.
Accountability is key. If the organizations which now receive multi-million dollar handouts are forced to be accountable, we'll see better performance and a higher return on investment.
Competition is good. Free speech is good. Equality is good. Fiscal responsibility is good. None of these American principals are practiced at city hall to the detriment of the honorable. Perhaps it's time to take a hard look at the direction we're heading instead of fake meetings and surveys designed to push an anti-free market agenda with no future assuring Branson will one day be a ghost town.