Earlier today, we visited the Nauvoo City office to request copies of the proposed ordinance, and resolutions for tomorrow’s City Council meeting. We received copies and left the office, only to realize that we had not been given one document which is specifically referred to in resolution 2017-4, missing was the “proposed agreement with Kimberly Orth (“Independent Contractor Agreement
to Perform Professional Services (Executive Director of Tourism)”)…attached to this resolution.” Our copy did not include a copy of the proposed agreement with the Tourism Director. It’s ironic that once again, an agreement associated with this position was not provided.
We went back to the City Office immediately, and there, within the stack of documents, where our requested pages were originally retrieved to make a copy, was the proposed agreement. It was then copied for us. It is frustrating that it was not included in the first request, considering the history of gaining access to anything related to this position. However, we don’t believe it should derail positive efforts in other areas.
Our opinion is that this new Tourism Director agreement should be considered, prepared and recommended to the City Council by the new Hotel Motel Board, as referenced in the City Ordinance. The new Board should have the opportunity to provide input, based on the direction this new ordinance, and new board provides. No action should be taken on this agreement, in our opinion, in this meeting. If the City Council had previously approved a contract, perhaps this would be appropriate. But in our review of City Council Meeting Minutes, and prior contracts, this is not the case. In fact, no Board has ever recommended to the City Council approval of any agreement. This can easily be corrected, and should be. This is the way to set the tone for a properly functioning Hotel Motel Board, and demonstrate the nature of this relationship going forward.
Also obtained from the City, with no hesitation, were copies of the proposed ordinance restructuring the Hotel Motel Board (2017-7), and the proposed resolution relating to professional services with Mayor John McCarty’s company, Outlaw Tee’s (2017-5).
First the restructured Hotel Motel Board: This ordinance does a fair job of mandating the structure and responsibilities of the new Board, and adds some additional review requirements, which we were really happy to see. To be clear, the previous ordinance did provide direction on spending of funds, and required City Council approval, but the day-to-day operation of the Hotel Motel Board in the past ignored this requirement. The real impact of this Ordinance will be compliance, and we believe the Mayor is committed to ensuring compliance.
On resolution 2017-5, approving a Professional Services relationship with the Mayor’s company, Outlaw Tee’s, we will limit our observation to one item. In the past we have pointed out the failure of the Mayor to correctly complete his Statements of Economic Interest. Prior to considering any additional agreement, we believe at least the current statement should be corrected, as an acknowledgement to the Citizens that potential conflicts have existed, and were not properly addressed. We met with the County Clerk this morning (August 7, 2017), and an amended Statement has not been provided to his office. Doing so would seem to be a good first step. However, the presence of this item on the agenda at all, putting it out for public discussion, is appreciated.
It is really great to see these changes. However we got here, this has the potential to be an important new day for Nauvoo. Citizens should be encouraged to be involved, make their concerns known, and stand up. As citizens, our concerns are not limited to Hotel Motel, or who sells what to the City. The issue with the Hotel Motel Board have been going on long before openNauvoo (just look at how many FOIA requests, prior to openNauvoo, were related to Hotel Motel Board information), and only the hesitation to provide documents to citizens caused us to take it to the Attorney General. There are a number of issues that have been, and still will be, a focus for citizens. With persistence, we can have input, and in partnership with our elected officials, improve things.
So, while the events of this next City Council meeting are important, and need to be considered carefully, let’s remember that it will take all of us. Change is not all that hard. Improvement can be very hard. Improvement is what happens after we decide change is necessary, and is defined by what we do together.
Thank you to everyone involved in this effort, and thank you to Mayor McCarty for moving forward with change, and we believe, improvements. More will be done in the future, but these steps forward can help.