Monday night, City Council responded in kind to the insult hurled at them last week by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA). Seven days before last night’s council meeting, the CRVA had flipped a big “Fuck you” to Council, in the form of a vague, two-page “summary” of a $25,000 review of its spending, supposedly produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Last night, Council returned the sentiments, withholding $10 million in CRVA funding until June 27 at the earliest. Kudos to Council for doing its job. It’s past high time that Council turned up the heat on CRVA’s free ride. The group has been under intense public scrutiny lately for its outlandish spending, overpaid executives, lack of accountability, and lax ethical judgments.
Since the scrutiny began, those paying attention have discovered one more thing about CRVA management: its arrogance and sense of entitlement. Those traits were on full display in the way the group handled the controversial recent “study.” Rather than respond credibly to criticism from the community and, more to the point, from the CRVA board’s bosses on City Council, the group acted like spoiled kids forced to explain themselves to their angry parents: with a pout and a half-assed effort. As a result, the controversy over CRVA spending has become an Uptown power struggle: on one side, the CRVA and the Uptown business interests who lovelovelove the group (and who wouldn’t, with all those freebies, butt smooches, and arena luxury suites at stake?); on the other side is city government, or as they’re also known, representatives of all the people of Charlotte and stewards of those people’s money.
Mayor Foxx and Council first need to deliver a strong reminder that the city is under no obligation to give the $10 million gathered from a hotel tax to the CRVA. Afterward, if CRVA management continues to act like a collection of spoiled, eye-rolling brats, pissing and moaning because (gasp!) they’re being asked to justify their expenditures of tax money, council should dump the whiners on the board of directors, keep the rest, and start over. Enough of CRVA’s snotty arrogance already. It’s time Newman & Co. got the message that they’re not God’s gift to the city.