Wasting $10.8 Million for Country Music
This is in response to recent letter in the Bristol Herald Courier. His letter can be read here.
John Rainero is president-elect of the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance and chairman of the alliance's "Friends of 1927" campaign hoping . He also is a construction and sales engineer with Permatile Concrete Products Co. in Bristol, VA. One can find out about their "Friends of 1927" fundraising effort hoping 1,927 will fork out $520 each at www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.
The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is another nonprofit established in the mid 1990s "to document and promote Bristol's music heritage and the 1927 recording sessions." All the "stars" dumped Bristol decades ago for Nashville.
They are refurbishing an abandoned garage at the corner of Cumberland and Moore streets. It's supposed to be a "heritage" center that will be promoting our real heritage: poverty, low paying jobs, and amusement and culture for rich people.
So far they've raised $7 million for the project most of it public funds that was supposed to go for education, job training, and healthcare. The study I referred to was conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center in 2005. Six years and $7 million later the structure is a wreck and nowhere close to completion. In my opinion the building should have been condemned.
The Crooked Road is another nonprofit organization Virginia politicians from the region setup to funnel tax dollars to their cronies and friends. I requested specific information on what the millions of dollars given to the "Crooked Road" has produced, and it seems nobody has ever done an audit of that effort. Their website is www.thecrookedroad.org.
Submitted Bristol Herald Courier:
RE: Help BCMA Preserve History, I'm voicing my opposition to any further government funding and asking that unspent government funds be returned. This project like the Bristol Trainstation will produce nothing and is a waste of money. Let's see a list of those jobs from the Bristol Trainstation ( cost $6 million), which is probably zero going by the empty parking lot.
I obtained a copy of the BCMA study from the former director and checked with Weldon Cooper Center in Wise that produced the study. They said it was "rushed" and requested at the last minute by BCMA to justify public funding. The study was absurd comparing Bristol to Roanoke and presented nothing that would justify the claim "$50 million economic impact." We're spending $10.8 million on an opinion from a "rushed" study?
They have no real business plan other than milk public dollars from the Smithsonian Institution. The study estimated perhaps eight jobs, probably part time. That's a cost of over $1.25 million per job. Both projects should have been a parking lots.
As a non-profit they'll pay zero taxes and money they received from the Tobacco Commission was illegal according to the Virginia State Constitution that bars public funds to non-profits. While I commend Mr. Rainero for his public service and integrity, this is just wrong under the economic conditions many suffer in this region.
We need real jobs, education, and healthcare and not another repeat of the Trainstation. They have squandered millions on tourism pork and as noted by the recent Tobacco Commission audit 89% of these projects has had no measurable return. Ask the folks at The Crooked (Money) Road organization for proof of any real economic benefit. I tried three times and they have nothing.
Finally for proof this is a failure, attend the Remote Area Medical in Wise, Virginia and see that proof close and personal.
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