Motion for Morrow fails; Banks rejects Tourism Council list|[10/17/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Another attempt by District 2 Supervisor William Banks to appoint Bobbie Bingham Morrow to the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau failed Monday, with Banks adding a vow not to nominate anyone from a list of candidates compiled by the Vicksburg-Warren Community Alliance’s Tourism Council.

Banks first nominated Morrow Aug. 14 to fill the unexpired term of Bobby Doyle, District 2 appointee who resigned, but the appointment failed on a 3-2 vote. Monday, there was no second for his motion.

&#8220Let it be known that I will not appoint anyone from that list,” Banks said in response, referring to the Tourism Council’s pool of candidates.

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Banks has said he resented the self-formed group assuming the authority to screen people it deemed experienced, especially bcause it did not list Morrow, who has actually been serving as a City of Vicksburg appointee to the city-county agency.

Other supervisors have deferred to the list, saying it’s helpful in finding nominees with roles in the tourism industry – something they think the VCVB needs.

The action Monday followed by five days an opinion letter from Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s office, which said Warren County’s appointees to the VCVB board must win a majority vote – not just a single supervisor’s approval.

The advisory opinion was sought after Banks appointed Morrow and interpreted state law to say the choice was entirely up to him.

The state’s response acknowledged that local and private legislation from 1990 modifying the original 1972 legislation that created the VCVB was poorly worded.

The agency has 11 board members – five county appointees, five by the Vicksburg Mayor and Board of Aldermen and one selected by both boards. Members are not paid, and their duty is to spend income from a 1 percent tourism tax on welcome centers, brochures, advertising the community and developing more attractions.

Mayor Laurence Leyens, who chose Morrow in 2002, has said she showed no interest in tourism and was indifferent to owners and operators of local tourist attractions.

Morrow, a records management official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has responded that the VCVB is an independent agency that should put the public’s interest first, not necessarily the interest of attraction operators. She was also an opponent of contracting out the bureau’s management functions to Compass Facility Management. That move was made in March after a series of close votes starting in December.

In addition to the District 2 seat, a nominee is expected from District 4 Supervisor Carl Flanders to replace attorney Bobby Bailess who is asked not to be reappointed in light of being elected president of the Mississippi Bar Association. All five city seats and the city-county seat on the board are filled.

In other business Monday, supervisors: