Osborne to write request for tourney spending info

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2001

[06/27/01] City Clerk Walter Osborne said that after repeated missed phone calls he is putting a request in writing for details of how the organization that hosted a fishing tournament in Vicksburg Memorial Day weekend spent $40,000 in city funds.

Osborne said he had been attempting to call Shambani Watts, vice-president of the Sportsman’s Association of Black Bass Anglers, since South Ward Alderman Sam Habeeb requested an accounting, but has not spoken with any representative of the organization.

“We’ve been missing each other,” Osborne said Tuesday. “I called him yesterday and he was out.”

Osborne said that a letter has been mailed to Watts requesting an accounting of how tax dollars were spent for the three-day event. Habeeb said he had requested the accounting because he was concerned that the city’s donation was not spent appropriately.

Habeeb, who did not seek re-election and will leave office Sunday when the new administration is sworn in, said that if there is no response from SABBA then it would be appropriate for the matter to be turned over to state agencies.

“I was thinking that they should have produced something even if we had not requested it,” Habeeb said.

After the tournament two years ago in Washington County, details of checks written there were made available. Expenses included fish for the youth derby, polygraph exams for anglers, more than $7,000 in motel bills and other costs not related to advertising or promotion, as was the stated purpose here.

In March, Habeeb had voted against making the unbudgeted allocation supported by Mayor Robert Walker and North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young.

According to figures provided by Watts, about 200 fishermen participated in the Mega-Bucks Bass Tournament. That number was about half as many predicted by tournament and city officials to have an economic impact of $1.2 million in Vicksburg.

“It doesn’t take long to show how money was spent or get copies of receipts,” Habeeb said.