And... for what?
County Board of Supervisors receives tourism presentation from Calaveras Visitors Bureau.
"Supervisors criticize Visitors Bureau for not doing enough to promote west end of county" https://www.calaverasenterprise.com/articles/news/supervisors-criticize-visitors-bureau-for-not-doing-enough-to-promote-west-end-of-co
...the Calaveras Visitors Bureau, under the leadership of the Executive Director, has received the following governmental funding to develop county tourism:
$1,752,199.42 in Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), hard dollars combined from county and city, resulting in a decline in Calaveras County tourism estimated to be 5% to 38%, specific to District 3, as of the end of 2022, with scant evidence of tourism marketing efforts made on behalf of Districts 1, 2, and 5.
The following represents a fraction of Calaveras County's unrealized tourism revenue in hard dollars...
Agenda Item #11, “Receive a Presentation by the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce.''
Note: The unpublished intention of Agenda Item #11 was revealed as, “Receive a Presentation for a $50,000 TOT Funding Share Request from the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce.”
Full presentation by Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce with Christopher Buttner’s public comment response. Duration 16:54. Christopher Buttner's Comments begin at 12:50.
Agenda Item #30. Adopt a Resolution approving the reappointment of Sarah Edwards to the position of County Counsel for a period of four (4) years effective May 11, 2024 along with an increase in base salary effective April 8, 2023.
Full presentation - Christopher Buttner’s public comment response. Duration 20:05 - Christopher Buttner’s comments begin at: 11:34.
Agenda Item: #24. Receive the 2023 Calaveras Visitors Bureau Presentation.
Full presentation - Christopher Buttner’s public comment response. Duration 01:02:30 - Christopher Buttner’s comments begin at: 54:04.
ADDITIONAL Unrealized Murphys Business Association Revenue
...I, Christopher Buttner, presented the preliminary outline of a five-year post-pandemic business plan to the MBA, that was called, "Too Aggressive;" the Calaveras Visitors Bureau completely ignored it.
This plan could have potentially led the Murphys Business Association to generate annual revenue from a low of $333,000 to a high of $575,000 within 3 years of implementation. An aggressive development and marketing campaign of creatively designed merchandise sold online and in the visitors center could have, in part, resulted in sales from a low of $1,000,000 to a high of $1,725,000 over three years.
This preliminary business plan was created as an open community Google Doc.
Over several months it was offered and distributed to numerous Murphys Business Owners, and alleged Calaveras entrepreneurs, many of whom were board members of the Murphys Business Association. It received no contributors, it was not peer reviewed, nor were any questions asked.
It was left to 'die on the vine' as, "Too Aggressive."
I created this preliminary business plan (Gap Analysis) proactively to assist the Murphys Business Association, representing Murphys, the economic engine of Calaveras County, in determining where that business bureau was losing money.
I am an award-winning entertainment marketing consultant with over 30 years of experience in internationally-recognized iconic events, as well as entertainment, tourism and music. I would consider myself an entrepreneurs entrepreneur.
This initiative was undertaken so the Murphys business community would not come out of the pandemic lockdown lacking a plan, so as to not be left compromised by having to reboot all Murphys community marketing efforts from a standing start once the lockdown was lifted.
Again, I refer you to the May 3, 2023, Calaveras Enterprise article, "Supervisors criticize Visitors Bureau for not doing enough to promote west end of county" - https://www.calaverasenterprise.com/articles/news/supervisors-criticize-visitors-bureau-for-not-doing-enough-to-promote-west-end-of-county/
An individual speaking on behalf of two Calaveras County business bureaus, in the capacity of Executive Director of one and as a board member of the other, stated for the record, in the above referenced article, "...leaders in communities generating the most tourism dollars, such as Murphys, Angels Camp and Arnold, 'work and serve beyond a paycheck' to organize large-scale events that keep tourists coming back year after year.”
That individual, still speaking on behalf of the two Calaveras County business bureaus, continued, “If we go into these other districts where these events are not happening, the direct correlation is that there’s not the community support to put together these large-scale events that are attracting new tourists to those districts. And so we keep encouraging those community and business leaders to step up and start to then host some of these events that I think would bring in the type of visitors that would then benefit the small business communities.”
From my qualified perspective, having produced numerous successful events of my own and having effectively collaborated with several Calaveras County event producers and entrepreneurs based in Murphys, Valley Springs, Angels Camp, and Copperopolis – from production assistance and support, as well as promotion of live comedy performances, festivals and awards shows honoring Calaveras Artists and Musicians – that business bureau representative’s specious statements lack credibility and do not reflect reality.
In reality, convincing evidence is scant or lacking of proactive or willing marketing coordination; no welcoming outreach and embrace from entrenched Calaveras County business bureaus to independent Calaveras-based tourism-development event producers – myself included – offering any marketing coordination, and no assistance, support or marketing augmentation.
As an example, the starkly contrasting views on tourism growth and entrepreneurship expressed by two supervisors at the January 24, 2023, Board of Supervisors meeting were headlined by the District 2 Supervisor’s unsuccessful effort to advance this county’s urgent requirement to explore additional opportunities for Calaveras tourism business revenue generation and to proactively promote entrepreneurialism: Agenda Item #17, Informational Item - Planning (ID # 7109) Receive staff presentation on Cannabis Ecotourism.
The anti-entrepreneurial climate that the District 2 Supervisor encountered publicly is directly relevant to what I, a Murphys-based business owner, have consistently experienced for the last several years at great professional, reputational and financial expense.
I direct your attention to the video of the January 24, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting (BELOW), starting at 2:18, and again at 50:48, where the fundamental matter of analyzing the value of establishing a business plan for and around Calaveras County cannabis tourism, to determine its viability and financial benefit to the county - currently a national $17 billion dollar industry - was summarily dismissed, lacking any evidentiary merit. I, along with other Murphys and Calaveras County entrepreneurs, were left stunned at this lack of curiosity and inquisitiveness.
Watch the video below.
Murphys and Calaveras festivals, street fairs, themed events, concerts, and similar planned public gatherings, regardless if produced by business bureaus or entrepreneurs, represent several of the most time-tested and effective methods for mass promotion, awareness building, tourism revenue generation and repeat visitor retention for rural counties and towns, as well as major metropolitan communities.
Since mid-2015 I have been a full-time resident of Murphys, an entrepreneurial business owner, and the co-owner of the annual Murphys Witch Walk.
During the course of my storied career – from performing musician to entertainment industry marketing and public relations specialist – I have represented indie to internationally-recognized multi-platinum and Grammy and Academy Award-winning entertainers, composers, Gold and Platinum-selling bands and recording artists, national and regional concert and theater production tours and events, creative entrepreneurs, legendary recording studios, and many internationally-recognized musical instrument brands and manufacturers of consumer and commercial/industrial entertainment technologies.
Early on in the pandemic, in the spring of 2020, I offered to create a gap analysis for all Murphys festival events to determine how money could be saved on production and logistics; immediately leveraging and improving event monetization on every event post-pandemic.
Without considering further inquiry or exhibiting any general curiosity into the details of what I was proposing – which was the offer to redesign the expensive event production, logistics, mechanics, and infrastructure, at a potential cost saving spread across and the benefits shared by all street festival events – I was chastised, "We don't want all the events being exactly the same."
Festival logistics and infrastructure have little to no bearing on the entertainment content of the affair, the latter of which is the primary tourist attracting draw of any event.
Consider this fact… After just three years of my creative, production, promotional and strategic supervision, the Murphys Witch Walk has now cumulatively generated between $2 to $3 million in total tourism revenue.
In 2022 alone, the 6th Annual Murphys Witch Walk injected an estimated $1 to $1.25 million into the local Murphys Main Street business economy in a single day, while simultaneously delivering incalculable brand awareness accruing to the town of Murphys as an innovative and progressive incubator of tourism revenue-generating events and attractions.
Since 2019, the Murphys business community has observed most, if not all, of Murphys Main Street events becoming tired and listless; declining significantly in attendance, innovation, and financial benefit to the business community due to - what I herein allege - defiant, myopic, unimaginative, bureaucratic, mismanaging, and disdainful business bureau leadership.
Since February 14, 2023, I have addressed before the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors (video herein), as well as in Letters to the Editors to local newspapers, and correspondence to all District Supervisors and government executives, the issue of county-sanctioned and institutionalized conflicts of economic interests, institutionalized cronyism and exclusionary collusion through the willful suppression of entrepreneurialism and innovation, in favor of select support of legacy personalities, businesses and industries through the advocacy of inexperienced – and I herein allege – inept individuals entrenched in the gamut of both governmental and business bureau leadership positions.
Referring again to the aforementioned comment, from the aforementioned business bureau spokesperson, published on May 3, 2023, in the Calaveras Enterprise:
"And so we keep encouraging those community and business leaders to step up and start to then host some of these events that I think would bring in the type of visitors that would then benefit the small business communities.”
At this link is an example of the 'encouragement' I have received from one such business bureau, its Executive Director, members and board: https://murphyswitchwalk.com/press-room/f/the-calaveras-winegrape-alliances-ugly-inflammatory-statement?blogcategory=Press+Statement …
Intentional meddling by a tourism-development business bureau executive in a company purchase transaction with a former business partner torpedoed my ability to acquire an event planning business that was projected to generate as much as $1 million annually within two years.
The manufactured perception that Murphys and Calaveras County’s business bureaus are willing and eager to embrace and work with entrepreneurs and event producers is a myth; weaponized gaslighting of an entire community and county government to great and lasting detriment.
Directly resulting from this anti-business climate – created by the very business bureaus that are supposed to be helping the business community grow and thrive – my two other nascent, currently-in-development festival events remain shelved as the unfortunate and regrettable consequence of being unable to effectively conduct business in Calaveras County.
This is primarily due to the previously alluded to or stated unmanageable corruption, intransigence, cronyism, conflicts of interest and collusion that exists between unethical business bureaus and compromised Calaveras County government officials.
The incoming District 3 Supervisor, whose District includes Murphys, the economic engine of Calaveras County, received a letter from the Office of Calaveras County Counsel on, or before, August 11, 2022, pertaining to him being “able to stay on as the CVB Executive Director,” while concurrently serving as the District 3 Supervisor.
Two months later on, or before, October 20, 2022, the incoming District 3 Supervisor retained the legal services of his private attorney, Mr. Blaine R. Cox of the law firm Damrell, Nelson, Schrimp, Pallios & Silva, to submit the below referenced letter (received from the Office of Calaveras County Counsel), to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), to “look for their guidance as well.” The meeting minutes of the October 20, 2022, Calaveras Visitors Bureau Board of Directors evidenced the statement that, “Martin has county counsel approval to remain the CVB Executive Director. Martin’s personal attorney is working to get formal FPPC permission for him to remain CVB Executive Director.”
The FPPC’s response to Mr. Cox, Huberty’s private attorney, on January 23, 2023, was dated three weeks after the District 3 Supervisor assumed office (link to document below).
The document reveals, astoundingly, by analysis of the three questions asked and the FPPC’s responses, (1) Huberty’s personal attorney was actually not working to get formal FPPC permission for him to remain CVB Executive Director,” (2) State-sanctioned consent is actually what was actively being sought by the District 3 Supervisor from the FPPC through his private attorney, permitting him to operate in the murky area between multiple, conflicting, highly demanding taxpayer-funded and/or salaried positions as both the Calaveras Visitors Bureau Executive Director and as District 3 Supervisor.
The District 3 Supervisor’s prioritization of maintaining two publicly-funded incomes over his oath of office (and job responsibility to develop tourism as the Executive Director of the Calaveras Visitors Bureau), represents a clear and present danger to vibrant and sustainable economic development and for business and public safety of District 3 and for Calaveras County.
Of the most concern - perhaps - this formal inquiry of the State was made by, or on behalf of, the District 3 Supervisor through legal counsel - I herein allege - for the explicit purpose of determining the limitations, extent and capacity by which the decision-making processes in both roles may strain against the strictly defined confines of ethical and legal conflicts of interest.
Mr. Cox, on behalf of his client, Mr. Huberty asked the following three questions of the California FPPC.
Fair Political Practices Commission Document No. I-22-106 is accessible at this link: https://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/documents/advice-letters/2023/22106.pdf
A modest sampling of endemic dereliction of duty and breach of fiduciary and fiscal responsibility afflicting Calaveras County, Murphys and other community tourism-reliant businesses and entrepreneurs – by those business bureaus charged with assisting us in the business community – have been herein disclosed.
The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors and the Angels Camp City Council, both appear to have routinely failed to demand – as a condition of continued funding of the Calaveras Visitors Bureau – seasonal marketing plans and audited accounting statements to determine where the $1.75 million in combined TOT contributions has been going, and what the CVB has been spending it on for the four years of the District 3 Supervisor’s tenure as the Executive Director of that business bureau; presumably his contractually-prioritized full-time position, as it is compensated as such.
My numerous conversations with Murphys business owners and other entrepreneurs throughout Calaveras County, from Valley Springs to San Andreas to Mokelumne Hill to Angels Camp and beyond, reveal that few are willing to speak on these topics publicly because they do not desire to draw the inevitable scrutiny and scorn that risks and compromises their earned station in the community or their personal and professional reputations.
I have put myself forward as their voice, breaking the deafening silence of their individual and collective concerns, as I continue to be unrelenting in my willingness to unwaveringly speak out against the egregious behavior of Calaveras County business bureau and governmental leadership in their failed efforts to develop tourism.
We'd like to hear from you Calaveras and Murphys tourism business entrepreneurs.
Share your questions, concerns, issues, roadblocks, and problems you or your business have encountered with the entities and/or individuals referenced herein. I encourage you to reach me below.
Our correspondence will be maintained in the strictest of confidence and privacy.
Serving the Calaveras County tourism-dependent business communities of Copperopolis, Angels Camp, Murphys, Avery, Arnold, Dorrington, Tamarack to Bear Valley and beyond.
Copyright ©2023 MurphysCalifornia.biz - All Rights Reserved.
Follow Our Social Media Accounts.