The public hearing for the bill was the same night as the final vote, which means that the bill's passage was a foregone circumstance. Somebody decided that it was necessary, and I promise you that anything short of a riot would not have prevented this bill from passing. You will have to believe me when I tell you this, but the use of the dock was advertised on the festival's web site before this lease was even proposed.
The theme of this post is "Downtown businesses get screwed because the Kunta Kinte Festival needs money". The festival is to take place between 11 am and 7 pm on Saturday September 27, which are probably the busiest 8 tourist hours of the entire year for downtown Annapolis. The Festival will occupy the Dock from the visitor center down to the water, as well as the seating area where the dinghies are docked and the seating area next to the market house. The cost of renting these spaces: $1. At least the Festival has to pay for the fire, police, and public works, right? Only if they make enough money! The lease reads:
...that Lessee shall assume any and all financial responsibility for any such
other services that may be required by Lessor. However, if the Director of
Finance is satisfied that the payment of charges would result in expenses
exceeding revenue the Director shall waive such part of the charges as may be
necessary to prevent expenses exceeding revenue for the event.
For any of you familiar with business, or life, you will know that this sweetheart lease does not exist. In fact, Mrs. Politics asked to move in with me and I told her I would need 3 months' rent up front.
So, is the Festival going to make money? No. The 2006 event was short about a quarter of its $90,000 cost for the event. How the event costs $90,000 is beyond me, as they charge an admission fee as well as fees in the hundreds of dollars for both vendors and exhibitors.
I've never been to the Kunta Kinte Festival. I'm sure it's a good time. I'm sure it's educational. The trade off is that the city has to subsidize the event, and local business suffer heavily on what would otherwise be one of their busiest days of the year, as downtown patrons eat food from outside vendors and take up the space that would be utilized by businesses downtown. If downtown businesses want to compete, they must submit an application to be a vendor and shell out $500 to sell food where they are already allowed to sell food. Does the trade off sound worth it to you?