Conflicts of interest mark fairgrounds boosters

To the editor:

Ms. Jeanne Plummer, in my opinion, was being less than forthcoming when she submitted her letter to the editor (July 27 Daily Reporter). The fact she did not identify herself as an officer of the 4-H Agricultural Association can hardly be described as a minor oversight.

The ag association has chosen to partner with the Hancock County Exposition Complex Corporation (HCECC) because the HCECC made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

What an offer! How about a new and expanded fairground with horse arena and barns at absolutely no cost to the ag association?

How about the county building it, operating it, managing it, and the taxpayers funding it?

How about never having to worry about maintaining the fairground or dishing out money for upkeep?

It is clear the proposed HCECC project will not result in sufficient economic growth to sustain itself. The county will have to either cut current programs and services or significantly increase taxes.

Supporters claim funds spent to date by the HCECC have come from grants and donations specified for development of a new fairground. I disagree.

As far as I am concerned, the $50,000 in taxpayer funds which the HCECC received from the Hancock County Tourism Commission were obtained under very questionable circumstances, as were the funds which the HCECC has received from other community groups.

I would remind all these organizations that they are entrusted with overseeing the monies of others and that the HCECC does not hold an IRS 501(c) status of any type.

Supporters also claim that the meetings of the HCECC are open to the public. That’s a matter of considerable conjecture. The meetings are “open” if you define “open” as meaning the public can attend and listen but cannot speak or otherwise participate in discussions.

The HCECC may say their meetings are open, but in fact they are really only open to those members of the public who share their single point of view.

The HCECC is nothing more than a private nonprofit domestic corporation with its hand out, looking and hoping to be funded with taxpayer dollars.

Even more problematic is the fact that its operating officers and the majority of its board of directors are sitting county and Greenfield elected officials or employees who will play a role in deciding matters affecting the HCECC.

I see this being a fundamental problem and obvious conflict of interest.

John Priore