After about ten phone calls I pulled up your article online about the union endorsement.
Karen, as usual, has not bothered to learn the facts.
There is not "all this money" pouring into my campaign. The Firefighters Union bought their signs and placed them. That is the sum total of their expenditure on my behalf.
My campaign manager, Denys Flaherty, approached Jason Morris about an endorsement and support from their PAC. She's managed many campaigns in other states and knew this was a common source of money. They followed procedure as Jason explained in your article and Mickey and I got their vote.
Karen's claim that these are "outsiders" who don't know the local situation is wrong. The members of this local are all firefighters from Eureka Springs. Karen and Lany brought this on themselves through their virulent hostility toward the police and by association, the firemen. The two departments work together as a team and they were concerned by the attitude of the two women toward them. Is it any wonder they would want candidates who support their efforts on behalf of the city on the council?
I guess the moral to this story would be, "Be careful who you bite; they might bite you back."
I must take issue with the reasons set forth in Sue Spencer's letter to the editor in relation to "Passion Play doom 'explained'". As a resident who was born, raised and worked here during the height of our "Tourism Glory," the reason the Passion Play is currently in the situation it finds itself is two fold. First, the bus tours that were so predominant in the 80's quit coming to our town because the buses were banned from downtown. Second, the marketing done by the Passion Play is less than stellar from my stand point. (If anyone from the GPP would like to dispute my belief, I'm all for it!)
It is NOT due to the "Diversity" of our town or the "Bikers" that flow in on a regular basis. If it weren't for the "Diverse" business owners and workers in this town, we would lose over 50% of the businesses that we DO HAVE! And if it weren't for the "Bikers" we would lose a HUGE percentage of revenue. What it breaks down to is this...The parents of the baby boomers were the ones that rode buses to come see the Passion Play. However, the baby boomers are now the ones with disposable income, as their parents are deceased, incapacitated or would rather go to the casino on a bus because they've been there done that with the GPP. In addition, the baby boomers are the ones riding their $30K bikes into town on a daily basis spending money at sleeping and eating establishments in addition to our other shops. The argument that they don't shop because they are on their bikes is ridiculous...they pay to ship it home (some shops even offer free shipping). Face it! If it weren't for the bikers coming in our town would already be dead and it's not the fault of the "Diverse or Biker" communities!
I remember as a teenager, Kim Johnson and I working for Roy and Pat Manley at the Tastee Freez and it took 30 minutes for us to drive from the top of Planer Hill (where Community First Bank now stands), turn around in what is now Tim Parker's parking lot and back...if we were lucky all due to the traffic. I would love to see us get back to that! However, we will never see that kind of tourism again if the Council doesn't quit fighting and the public doesn't quit bitching about the people who choose to vacation here and spend their hard earned dollars. It wasn't too long ago that there was a letter to the editor written from a biker family telling of their experience with a local business woman (who happens to be on the city counsel or maybe it was her sister) screaming at a young woman on a bike. She had not been revving her pipes, just turning it on to leave town. Fortunately, they stated in their letter, they will not let one person deter them from coming back. Are you kidding me? That was completely ridiculous for a local business person to alienate consumers in such a manner! There are a large number of people who came here for a visit and moved here because it is such a wonderful place to live. That's why I moved back after being gone to DFW for 10 years. It is not the responsibility of the Passion Play to keep this town afloat any more than it's the town's responsibility to save the Play, because the last time I checked the Play is outside the city limits. Do we as a town receive any tax revenue from ticket, food or souvenir sales? As for saving the play, as an educated individual with a BSBA in Marketing Management from the University of Arkansas, I would be more than willing to give my ideas to the powers that be at the GPP and they can use them or not.
And yes, we are a Historical Town, but we still have to change with the marketing flow. We can not continue to do what we've always done and expect it to work. Generations' spending habits are different and will always be different. If we don't learn to change with it, then yes Sue, we will be a ghost town. But it will be because of people like you, not because of the "Diverse and Biker" communities.
In my 33 years as a resident of Eureka, I have seen many businesses of all types bite the dust, change hands or just plain disappear into Eureka history. The Play has had a great run, employed many locals, made lots of money and provided a viable tourist attraction for select groups of people. But when I hear folks simmering about how certain factions in the town have adversely affected the cash receipts of the Play, I am perplexed. In this ever changing world with an ever changing economy, nothing in the way of business success is a given. It has to be earned, and it has to be earned every day. And as the nature of an audience changes and evolves, a business runs the risk of irrelevance by resting on its laurels and standing still and admiring its past work. The Play, the statue and the grounds are merely entertainment venues -- and as they say in the restaurant business, "you are only as good as your last meal."
Ms. Spencer did not seem to leave out any of us in trying to place blame for the likely demise of the Great Passion Play. Of course she had to bring God into the picture. Why is it that the religious right seems to get so much pleasure out of condemning people to hell. Why can't heaven just stand on it's own merit. I tend to agree with Spencer Tracy's character in "Inherit the Wind" when he said, "As long as the prerequisite for that shining paradise is ignorance, bigotry and hate. I say the hell with it." Just maybe the reason attendance and donations are down is that people have seen it enough times and are just tired of it. After all it's not like it is a timeless story that you can't get enough of, like maybe "The Big Lebowski."
I would like to thank twelve wonderful individuals who braved the elements with me to perform as Major Penn's Salvation Singers in the 4th Annual Voices From the Silent City Tour. Singing out-of-doors is extremely hard on the vocal cords, especially if you are exposed to blustery winds and chilly temperatures, but these dedicated singers took all that in stride as they not only provided a beautiful blended sound as Penn's Choir but also proved their acting chops by interacting as Penn's congregation -- affirmations of "Amen!" and "Hallelujah!" grew out of a truly inspiring spirit of improvisation and I was truly blessed to direct such a fine group.
Kudos go to: Avis Adams, Marilyn Aldridge, Mary and John Dolce, Tiffney Gentry, Judith Giggey, Danna Hearn, Carol Klarr, John Inglehart, Gloria Rennels, Lavonne St. Clair and Tiffany Windle. Thank you for your commitment of time, energy and voice!
The Salvation Singers were fortunate to have had the support of the American Legion Walker-Wilson Post No. 9, who donated the use of their wooden folding chairs for seating and to the First United Presbyterian Church of Eureka Springs, who donated the use of their choir robes and stoles. My warmest gratitude must extend to Danna Hearn--who not only provided accompaniment for our rehearsals, but donated the use of an antique circuit rider's pump organ and was responsible for the care, assignment and distribution of robes. Lastly, special thanks are due to John Inglehart, whose solo work on "Down By the Riverside" and Judith Giggey's use of tambourine both made our performances sparkle.