LFC Comments by Brian Massie, Concord Township and Lake County resident for over 35 years.
DEFUND THE LAKE COUNTY VISITORS BUREAU
A News-Herald article, written in 2003, reinforces our belief that evil works in incremental steps.
The article states that in 2003 the Lake County Visitors Bureau “subsists on $300,000 in tax dollars and would balloon to about $500,000 if a tax increase is adopted by the Lake County commissioners”. In 2020, the Lake County Visitors Bureau received over $1 million from the Hotel (Bed) excise tax.
The Visitors Bureau is registered as a 501 ( c) (6) non-profit with the IRS. Moreover, to be tax exempt, they are required to have dues paying members as their main source of income. However, their overwhelming financial support is from the taxpayer funded bed tax.
The 2003 article states, “Although the bureau is publicly funded, the non-profit corporation does not have to disclose its records – not of its employees, nor of its spending.” We can confirm that is still true today. The Visitors Bureau is not accountable to the Lake County Commissioners or to the taxpayers. They are not subject to Ohio’s Public Records and Open Meeting laws, collectively known as the “Sunshine Laws”, which gives Ohio’s citizens access to government meetings and records.
At the February 18, 2021 Commissioners’ meeting their attorney, Mr. Jeff Ruple, informed the Commissioners that since their by-laws have changed the Bureau is a “self-governing body”, and the Commissioners’ appointment to their Board are merely “recommendations”. They can either accept or reject the Commissioners’ recommendations.
We are calling on the Lake County Commissioners to DEFUND the current Lake County Visitors Bureau, and establish a County Board under the direction of the Commissioners and subject to Ohio’s Sunshine laws.
It is way past time for our proposed change. For the Visitors Bureau to receive over $1 million per year in taxpayer funding and not be accountable to ANYONE is wrong and immoral. It makes us wonder how the Republican Party, now in absolute control of Lake County, can explain to the taxpayers that they do not get to see how the money is being spent by the Visitors Bureau. This is a perfect vehicle for any scheme of graft, corruption, pay-to-play, quid pro quo, or money laundering to rear its ugly head.
Sadly, since 2003, neither political party seems to object.
Under the theory of the “Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates”, we have contacted the Concord Township Trustees asking for their support in DEFUNDING the Lake County Visitors Bureau. We have asked for their response in writing so that we can share their response with all Concord Township residents. Stay tuned...
The Liberty Camp is looking for teenage volunteers to help with the Lake County
Camp. If you are interested, contact Linda O’Brien [firstname.lastname@example.org] or Brian Massie [LobbyistsforCitizens@gmail.com]