Porkopolis

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Council to Decide on Festival Subsidy

City council will decide Wednesday on a grant request for nearly $3,000 made by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce that would pay for private fire and EMS service at this weekend’s Taste of Cincinnati festival.

After some council members had difficulty getting information earlier this week about the grant’s status, they worried that administrators had approved the request without their consent. Such an action could set a policy precedent when dealing with other special events seeking aid, council members said.

A city spokeswoman said Tuesday that an item will be brought before council at its regular meeting Wednesday afternoon for debate and possible action.

City council last year ended the practice of offering free fire and EMS service to certain large events, including the Taste festival and Oktoberfest, after the fire department exceeded its overtime budget and resorted to using “brownouts” — or reduced staffing — at some fire stations.

Taste of Cincinnati organizers use fire protection and EMS services provided by the city. It typically costs about $10,000; Chamber officials made arrangements for reduced services from a private contractor for about $3,000 and wanted the city to defray the cost.

Leaders from the local firefighters union say the contract for the private service raises a safety issue, because the firm would have at least one less paramedic on duty than the city’s standard four-person crews, and that the firm would have to rely on city firefighters if its single crew was busy.

Contract supporters, however, note that the Reds and Bengals routinely use private service at their games with no problem.

— Kevin Osborne

2 Comments:

  • So help me understand what Kevin conveniently left out; last year the fire department screamed and complained about the brownouts supposedly created when the city used CFD crews to man the Taste.

    Now they're screaming and complaining becuase they're not being used, even though it would cost $7,000 more? When will the unions realize that their tired old arguments just won't work on us anymore?

    So we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:34 AM  

  • Given the obscene amounts of money that the shysters who run Taste and Oktoberfest charge vendors and the public it is hard to believe that they would still ask for taxpayer subsidies for their events.

    I was a sponsor of both events a couple of years ago when I worked for one of the largest breweries in Germany. I shelled out around $15,000 for a tent at each event and received little in return for the money. The Chamber actually encouraged competing brands to ‘outbid’ me for better locations, tents, etc.

    Miller, and before them Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) paid the Chamber several hundred thousand dollars for each of these events. Bud tired of throwing their money away on the event and walked several years ago, and Miller picked it up for many years. I understand that Miller walked away from the events this year. They tired of dealing with the thieves at the Chamber just like Bud did (and I did as well).

    The Chamber hikes these fees every year, with the price for a beer vendor going from $1100 8 or 9 years ago to nearly $20,000 in recent years. The chamber got punch drunk from the money brands like Warsteiner were throwing around at these events and grew greedy. Meanwhile, other vendors were becoming so angry at the Chambers price hikes and lack of allegiance to past sponsors that they have walked away from these events. Warsteiner’s money dried up eventually after they fired the guy who was running their US importer (he was spending money like it was going out of style). Mow Miller has walked. Major distributors such as Heidelberg, who know what kind of thieves the guys at the chamber are, won’t touch the events either. I don’t know who is left these days.

    I won’t even get into what the Chamber charges food vendors for their booths and for items such as ice, etc. And what they charge the public for beer! The chamber gets a discounted price on every keg that they buy, yet they charge an ungodly sum to the public for a cup of beer. When I sponsored the event, I estimated that the Chamber made a net profit of $20,000 off of beer sales form my one tent! Multiply that by every tent and beer stand there and that’s a lot of money.

    These events are money makers; at least they used to be if not for the Chambers blundering incompetence. There is no way that one dime of the over-taxed payers money should go to these events. If the Chamber cannot run these events efficiently they should turn the event over to a private contractor or not have the event at all. Enough is enough!

    By Anonymous Beerguy, at 1:20 PM  

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