Letter: Problems with Spotlight story, letter-writers
Transparency is a word that is often used but seldom practiced by even those who scream it from every street corner and letter to the editor.
In the Sept. 14 Spotlight there were two letters that attacked Tina Curry signed by Nancy Whitney and Tammy Maygra. Both letters were written by Nancy Whitney.
If Nancy Whitney was going to get a patsy to sign her letter, she should have at least gotten a pasty from St. Helens rather than one from Deer Island who doesn't vote or pay taxes in St. Helens.
To make matters worse, both letters contain lies. First and foremost is the accusation that Tina Curry earns a "salary" of $120,000. This is a lie, and Whitney has been provided proof of that lie several times.
E2C Corporation has a contract with the city of St. Helens to perform several events, including Halloweentown, Christmas Tree Lighting, Fourth of July, and 13 Nights on the River. She has added new events like Festival of the Fairies, The Alien Experience and more that are not part of the contract. From that contract, several staff members are paid specific to the projects and other expenses, like supplies, lists, media outreach, some props, significantly reduced shuttle bus service for various events, advertising, transportation costs, and all general business expenses associated. E2C also finances items not required by the contact such as a series of meetings to bring merchants together to discuss their needs. Remember when they used to beg for dollars for fireworks, and the fireworks where canceled? Thanks to the E2C contract this is covered now. Perhaps the most significant gain from the contract is the experience and knowledgeof a successful management team.
The Spotlight is partially responsible for this false narrative as their own reporting has incorrectly identified the $120,000 as a "salary" (see editor's note). While the Spotlight did print a correction, I do think that the editorial staff needs to review letters to the editor and put an editor's note when a letter contains incorrect information that is clearly a lie — especially when their own reporting helped to spread that false-
The letter also incorrectly states an additional $140,000 is at "Curry-Cannard's disposal" and "this amount is collected from motel taxes." The additional funds raised are raised by Curry from sponsorships (which she has to solicit), ticket sales, merchandise sales, vendor fees, etc. In other words, the city gets $260,000 worth of events for $120,000.
Maygra/Whitney then states that they object to the contributions for 13 Nights — why? There are donations and, thanks to Curry, this is the first year that 13 Nights is in the black. No one is required to pay, and many in this community have the ability to donate and do. Thank you Tina Curry for making a loved event sustainable. Curry is like Midas — everything she touches turns to gold.
In Whitney's letter she blames Curry turning St. Helens into a "ghost town" citing the many closed shops. There is no question that online shopping and other various factors such as the closing of Armstrong World Industries has affected the St. Helens economy. To blame Curry for this is absurd. Curry's job is not economic development — it is tourism. As such she got 30,000-plus people to St. Helens last year — quite the opposite of a ghost town — proves her phenomenal success. Certainly, E2C Corporation has fulfilled the terms of its contact.
I understand this narrative comes from friends of Whitney that are downtown business owners who want to blame everyone and everything from the city to Curry to parking to Stonehenge for their lack of success.
Whitney also says that it is a "blatant lie" that the petition to close strand street did not have the needed petitions. A simple records request to the city has produced those signatures. It is Whitney that is blatantly lying.
Whitney also claims there is no infrastructure for these events, yet in the next paragraph states St. Helens is going to be a ghost town. Both cannot be true. Ghost towns don't need infrastructure. You certainly can't claim the city is a ghost town, while also complaining that there are too many people and not enough parking.
I also take issue with the Spotlight's Sept. 14 article, "Cash, bad blood at crux of Kimberly Brown's exit." I don't have so much of an issue with what is in the article, but what is not in the article. While the article does a good job of providing an overview of the current issues, and it contains links to lots of source documents in the online version, there is no vetting or reporting on these documents.
I won't go into all the false accusations from Gemstone, Kimberly Brown's agent regarding Tina Curry, but I will point out that they make an accusation regarding an April 19 St. Helens City Council Meeting. 1. April 19 is a Thursday, City Council meets on Wednesdays. Second, they assert that Curry did a profanity-laced tirade and the video disappeared from the city's website. Both of these are not true. The April 18 council meeting can be seen on the website, and there is no rant from Tina Curry. Gemstone is a documented liar.
Where do these lies come from? Certainly Curry would have no reason to spread these lies about her relationship, and regarding St. Helens Economic Development Corp., an organization she had no contact with in over a year, Curry had hired a respected community liaison to communicate with SHEDCO. That leaves someone from SHEDCO.
In looking at SHEDCO's board members, the person that stands out to me is Amanda Normine — a person whose criminal record is indicative of these kinds of actions. I am all for people doing a crime, serving their time and moving on with their lives. But a personal experience shows me she has not changed. I believe Normine's interference is what caused the relationship with Brown's agent to deteriorate. That and the fact that the agent got really greedy.
I commend the city and Curry for their professional responses to the crazed emails Gemstone sent — and for rejecting their offer. And, I hope the Spotlight follows up on these stories.
Editor's note: The city pays E2C Productions, which is run by Tina Curry, $10,000 per month under contract terms to coordinate the city's tourism and events. City officials have characterized the payment as compensation to E2C Productions. Per city documents, E2C Productions is reimbursed for expenses it incurs related to events it oversees on the city's behalf.