Star: Tourism to governor: Pay me my money down

by Jason Noble

Kansas City Star

JEFFERSON CITY The Missouri Tourism Commission voted unanimously this afternoon reemphasize its commitment to the Tour of Missouri bicycle race.

Implicit in the vote was a plea to Gov. Jay Nixon to release a hold on state funding for the event. The hold, which restricts the state's Division of Tourism from paying its $1.5 million share of race costs, was put into place Wednesday, shortly after the funds were identified as a possible budget cut .

Organizers of the $3.3 million tour have said cutting the state contribution would submarine the event less than two months before it's scheduled to begin. That could open the state and tour organizers to breach-of-contract lawsuits, leave spectators, cycling teams and sponsors in a lurch and cost the state economy tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues, they say.

The Nixon administration has said it is reviewing numerous cuts, of which the tour funding is one, and has made no final decisions.

If the hold was removed, the commission could pay $1.5 million upon request to Tour of Missouri Inc., the organization that officials runs the event.

The commission's vote from this afternoon doesn't carry any authority, but telegraphs members' frustration with the delay and possible cut.

Much of the conference call in which the vote took place was spent discussing similarly symbolic acts and airing discontent with the Nixon administration's actions.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the commission chairman also pledged to call the Nixon personally on the matter.

Nixon is a Democrat and Kinder is a Republican. Political antagonism between the two appears to be at least somewhat at play in the current situation.

At one point in the free-flowing and at times stream-of-consciousness meeting, Kinder warned of the negatives facing the state if officials indeed pulled the plug on the tour:

"It destroys the credibility of the Tourism commission and the state of Missouri, in my opinion, if this goes forward" he said.

Also on the call, the tour backers seemed to pick up an ally in Katie Steele Danner, a deputy director in the state Department of Economic Development who said she would advocate for the tour to the administration officials who control its fate.

Danner is one of the DED officials whose name appears on a memo to budget officials proposing the cut.

1 comment:

  1. Kinder knows how I will feel! If Nixon doesn't release the funds and let the Tour go forward - my hard earned dollars will NEVER be spent in Missouri again.I came to the Tour last year and was amazed by it and have reservations for this year, I love to come see my Braves at Busch Stadium---But I can go to Milwaukee or Chicago to see the Braves and hopefully Georgia to see my Cycling in the future. No Tour of Missouri in 2009 -- missouri will never see another dime from me!