Richardson says he, other chamber board members bear some blame
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association board members ” himself included ” could have been more aggressive in making sure concerns about the chamber’s handling of a tourism marketing contract had been adequately addressed, Dan Richardson says.
“The chamber board addressed them all (in the past) but I don’t know if there was really the followup,” he said.
Richardson serves as council’s nonvoting representative on the chamber. Representation by a council member is provided for as part of the $500,000 contract under which the chamber promotes Glenwood Springs using lodging tax revenues.
The city has been investigating concerns surrounding the chamber’s handling of the fund. Some of those concerns have existed for years. Among them are whether the chamber can adequately substantiate what it has billed the city for, and whether it is making claims for travel expenses in excess of what the city’s policy for reimbursements allows.
The chamber says that it revised its policies on these matters in years past in response to audit recommendations. But the city is questioning to what degree that is true, and whether policies have been consistently enforced.
“Not all of (the audit recommendations) were followed up on as thoroughly as they could be and that’s my fault as a representative on the chamber board,” Richardson said.
Other chamber board members have defended the organization, saying the policies are in force and the city is raising old issues.
Richardson also said when concerns were being raised earlier about the chamber, it didn’t give those concerns the attention they deserved. At the time, he said, he didn’t think it was his place to push for answers.
“My name needs to be on the list of people who didn’t do enough homework at the time,” he said.
However, Richardson said he questions the motives of ex-employees who are accusing the organization of improprieties with city tourism funds.
Former employees Lori Hogan and Cindy Svatos have gone public with their concerns about the chamber in recent days, after Emery issued the chamber a letter outlining the city’s concerns regarding the chamber’s administration of the tourism funds.
“I think the way Cindy has handled herself ever since she left the chamber doesn’t allow me to trust what she says,” Richardson said. “I think it’s appeared that she has a vendetta against the chamber. She’s been extremely vocal.”
Svatos, former special events director at the chamber, quit in 2003 when Virgili sought to turn her position into a contracted one. She said she doesn’t have it in for Virgili. In fact, she said, she long respected the work Virgili did, but lost respect over time because of how Virgili was handling both city and chamber funds.
She said she and Hogan gained nothing by voicing their concerns to the board and city.
“All we wanted was some accountability and for some reason, the board was never willing to make her accountable for it,” Svatos said.
Emery indicated that ex-employees have been a valuable source of information in the city’s investigation because they were in the chamber office each day and witnessed what happened there.
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