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City manager should say no to zombie CVB

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POSTED January 6, 2018 1:16 a.m.

The city in the coming weeks will get a request to waive fees associated with the Crossroads Street Fair in downtown Manteca. The fees cover taxpayer costs associated with closing streets and dumping fees for trash that’s generated from the 30,000 plus people that attend.
The city should do itself a favor and not waive the fees. In fact, they should consider not allowing tthe streets to be closed to accommodate the street fair.
The reason is because of the organization — the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau — and what it has deteriorated into. Given the heavy bet of tax dollars the City Council has made in the form of redevelopment proceeds to secure a major destination resort hotel and indoor waterpark they need to disassociate the city from the CVB.
Great Wolf has made it clear they expect the city to work with them to promote visitors to Manteca. Cities do that by partnering with groups such as visitors bureaus or chambers of commerce. The CVB in the pathetic state it is in today is not up to the task of promoting much of anything to do with Manteca.
Try to contact the CVB. They do not maintain a physical presence in Manteca — the city they are supposedly promoting. If you’re seeking information about Manteca and call during normal business hours you will talk to a machine and you might get a call back.
You can go on-line and access upcoming events and you will find out the list (based on a check Friday) has four Lodi items, four political events, a teacher recruiting fair, and a gem fair in Roseville. Nothing is listed for Manteca or neighboring communities. As for the site’s directory of restaurants and such more than a few of them don’t exist anymore and haven’t for a long time. And a number of places that have been open a year or more — such as Sizzler — aren’t listed. An agency supposedly promoting Manteca might want to update its website at least once every two years.
If you have a hunger for general information about Manteca attractions and what they have to offer the website won’t even whet your appetite.
Web sites that glean information via digital sweeps promoting communities to get clicks for ads have more details on what is going on in Manteca by far than the CVB site has.
There are also questions about whether the CVB can justify it being non-profit any longer given their bylaws filed to secure such a status from the state clearly indicate they need at least seven directors. The website currently lists four — the executive director doesn’t count under the bylaws.
The CVB stages one event and one event only: The street fair. This wasn’t the case when the CVB was under the leadership of executive directors prior to the arrival of Virginia Camacho. The CVB staged things such as the Best of Manteca, worked to bring film production here, promoted dining locally with restaurant weeks, and actively went after visitors and tourists and worked with hotels and other local vendors to encourage guests to access various attractions in and around Manteca. Basically the CVB did what visitors bureaus are expected to do — work to attract visitors that will spend money locally to strengthen the local economy.
Now all they do us stage the street fair in an apparent effort to fund one thing — Camacho’s salary.
In an interview with the Bulletin in May of last year, Camacho said she was thinking about adding a street fair in September. That is a month before the annual Pumpkin Fair. The reason she gave: The CVB was behind in paying her salary.
The September street fair didn’t happen. To begin with, it is ludicrous to believe you can organize a street fair in less than four months. The only reason the CVB street fair exists is because it was working and put in place long before Camacho arrived on the scene which was followed in a relatively short time by directors tripping over each other to abandon ship.
Can the city justify backing an organization that exists supposedly to work in tandem with the municipal government to build the Manteca economy when it’s clear that the major fundraiser the city is essentially partnering with them to stage exists only to pay for the salary of one person?
The charade that is the CVB only exists in the virtual world in a day and age when vibrant cities that attract visitors rely on a well-rounded campaign to keep their communities in the forefront. The CVB relies on a neglected website, no office, no apparent daily effort to contact anyone about visiting Manteca or having meetings here, and has a social media effort that should be taken off life support.
The last post on Facebook or Twitter promoting anything in Manteca was in May of 2016.
The street fair typically nets between $40,000 and $50,000 of which almost every cent goes to Camacho’s salary with little evidence anything is being done to promote visiting Manteca and spending dollars here.
Given how he requested the authority to handle requests to waive city fees for events and the City Council granted it to him, City Manager Tim Ogden needs to carefully weigh whether it is prudent or wise to have the city essentially subsidize Camacho’s salary and the zombie organization that the CVB has become.
If not it would appear that the city is buying the CVB’s slogan of “Manteca: Hook, Wine & Sneakers” hook, line and sinker.

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