Why is city keeping public out of tourism discussion?

Published 11:48 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The City of Natchez’s heavy hand in the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission continues to be suspiciously private.

Earlier this week aldermen and commissioners met behind closed doors to hash out what is arguably the city’s most important business — tourism.

After operating since 2012 without a ratified and comprehensible agreement between the commission and the city, the two groups secretly have met numerous times over the past few months, figuring out the management of the entity funded by public tax dollars.

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But as is often the case with city business, the public was excluded, for no apparent good reason. Under advice of the city attorney — whose job appears at least in part to help justify whatever secretive meeting aldermen seek to have — aldermen claimed the matter needed to be private because of the possibility of litigation and the leasing of property at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

That might make sense if either party was dealing with a private entity. But the matters discussed — we believe since only the privileged few that were in the meeting know for sure — should have been between the City of Natchez and the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission. Both of those are public entities and thus the public has not only interest in, but also a right to know what goes on between the two groups.

Last year’s debacle — director fired, entire commission asked to resign — at the NCPC came as a result of miscommunication and secretive conversations.

The new sense of openness doesn’t bode well for the public’s hope of having any more transparency in the city’s tourism hand than it did in the past.

We hope the public will at least have a chance to review and offer comment on the contract between the two entities before it is signed.