Attempt to return Morrow to VCVB fails| [8/15/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A move failed Monday by District 2 Supervisor William Banks to name departing Vicksburg appointee Bobbie Morrow to a Warren County slot on the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau board.

The 3-2 vote against Morrow favored a list prepared by the Tourism Council of the Alliance. It also broke a longstanding county practice in making appointments.

Morrow, a federal employee, said whether or not she is appointed, she plans to maintain an active role in tourism.

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&#8220It would be my pleasure and privilege to serve,” she said today. &#8220I feel no animosity toward anyone on the board.” I’m willing to serve and wherever I serve, I’m going to ask questions. If I’m off the board, I’ll still be very active in that process.”

Morrow was a dissenter in the sharply divided VCVB vote in December to contract out management duties. The deal with Compass Facility Management of Vicksburg was favored by the Alliance and by Mayor Laurence Leyens.

Leyens said today Morrow would not be reappointed by the city, although he asked her to serve four years ago. He was interested in stronger development in black heritage tourism, he said, and he felt Morrow would be a leader in that effort. He said he was disappointed.

&#8220She is not interested in the tourism industry whatsoever,” he said.

The VCVB was created by the Legislature as a city-county agency more than 30 years ago and funded by a specific tourism tax. Volunteer board members serve four-year terms with five appointees coming from supervisors, five from the mayor and alderman and one combined appointee. In turn, they allocate about $1 million yearly to tourism development efforts.

Banks’ motion to name Morrow came after receiving word that Bobby Doyle was the latest in a series of board members to depart.

He got the support of District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon, who pointed out that supervisors have always tacitly allocated an appointment to each supervisor with no supervisor questioning the others’ choices.

&#8220If your logic is, ‘It’s always been done that way’… that’s sick,” District 4 Supervisor Flanders responded. &#8220The process is way more important than the individual.”

District 1 Supervisor David McDonald and District 5 Supervisor Richard George agreed to wait and consider other options before acting on Doyle’s resignation.

The Tourism Council list provides what Alliance director Scott Martinez has called &#8220a system of checks and balances.” Those on it have answered a series of questions and both city and county boards have used it to make recent appointments, including Nelda Sampey, their joint appointee who is now VCVB chairman.

&#8220The list is valuable,” Flanders said. &#8220It carries weight.”

The list, prepared in March, includes people &#8220passionate” about tourism, its creators said. Criteria include how long potential appointees have lived in the area; in what aspect of tourism they are involved; if they have a background in marketing, human resources, accounting or law; and if any conflict of interest may exist.

Those endorsed by the Alliance include Ann Jones, Elmeree Bradley, Marty Crevitt, Charlotte Koestler, Joyce May, Charles Borrello, Carolyn Stephenson and Renay Jenkins. Bradley and Jenkins, both county appointees, were also picked from the list. Jones, chairman of the Tourism Council, also told supervisors earlier that the council is revising the list and names, including current VCVB member Patty Cappaert, have been added.

&#8220Let’s run it by them,” McDonald said Monday. &#8220We made a commitment to go along with (the list).”

Tourism Council member Liz Porter said it’s important that the supervisors and city board support the screening.

&#8220I think the system works with the criteria we came up with,” she said. &#8220Bobbie Morrow is not on that list. She’s brought nothing to the table except strife. We all need to be working together. We need everyone to agree to this system.”

Morrow said she questioned the Tourism Council’s criteria.

&#8220My question is – what is the Alliance’s definition of a tourism professional?” she said. &#8220I have a degree in management, which meant I took marketing courses and banking. I’ve been on the board for eight years. How does that make me not a tourism professional?”.

Leyens said Morrow’s successor would be appointed soon and would be from the restaurant industry. He said it is the only faction of the tourism industry not represented. &#8220My board is committed to placing people who are committed to tourism, ” he said.

Doyle, whose term would end July 1, 2010, gave no specific reason for his resignation, which was submitted in a letter to Banks dated Aug. 7.

&#8220I just felt like I wanted to resign,” said Doyle, who owns Burger Village on Washington Street. &#8220It was for no negative – or positive – reason. I wish them well and success to the City of Vicksburg.”

Doyle joined the VCVB board in the seat of his wife, Elease Doyle, after her death in 2003, at the urging of then-District 2 supervisor Michael Mayfield. Doyle was re-appointed by interim supervisor Larry D. Prentiss.

Also due for reappointment or replacement are city appointee Patty Cappaert, whose term ended Aug. 6, and county appointee Bobby Bailess, whose term ended June 30.