Friday, December 08, 2006

Task Force Sham

I have just learned that in a meeting last night of the CA External Relations Committee, Barbara Russell reported that her 40th Birthday Celebration Task Force had decided to hold a City Fair on the weekend of June 29th through July 1st.

Nothing could be further from the truth. No consensus on what the birthday celebration might include was reached by the Task Force and certainly no dates were set.

I attended that initial Task Force meeting. There were many ideas bantered around, some good, some not so good. After everyone gave their input Barbara Russell pretty much told everyone at the meeting that none of this discussion really mattered because she was going to go ahead and do what she wants to do which is to hold a City Fair.

For those readers who were not around twenty years ago when the last City Fair was held, I can only tell you that it wasn't pretty. It was as if all of Glen Burnie descended on the lakefront.

The thing is, it wasn't always so. In the beginning, the City Fairs were truly community events. It was more like a Village Fair. Everyone in Columbia went. There was even a "Ball in the Mall."

Back in those early days, Columbia was a town of with a population of about 15,000 people. It is much different now with a population of over 100,000 but some folks like Ms. Russell haven't come to grips with that.

It is irksome that she created a "Task Force" only for window dressing. It wasted a lot of peoples time. Make no mistake. The entire celebration of Columbia's 4oth birthday is being soley orchestrated by someone who is living in the past and who does not want to listen to anyone who disagrees with her.

On top of it all, she thinks she can pull together an event of this scale in just six months!

Having planned and executed large scale events in the past I can tell you that it takes a full year to do it right, not to mention a fair amount of money.

There is a viable and well proven alternative. For the past twenty years, The Columbia Festival of the Arts has hosted a LakeFest celebration which included the birthday celebration. The Festival has a full time year round staff and they have been working on the 40th birthday LakeFest for a year and a half now. They have been raising mpney through corporate sponsorships and individual donations. They have over 200 volunteers committed and ready to work.

Apparrently Ms Russell is not even listening to Maggie Brown on this. Aside from being the President of the Columbia Association, Maggie served for several years as the chairperson of the old City Fair. Her advice and counsel is being totally ignored.