Leflore County Supervisor Anjuan Brown got a lesson in telling it straight this week, and it saved the county taxpayers $13,200.
Brown, a week after securing a one-vote majority to get the county to subsidize a Birmingham, Alabama, concert promoter, saw the decision flip on Monday when the swing vote on the issue, Reginald Moore, changed his mind.
Moore said he felt he had been misled, before voting with Brown the week before, about who was endorsing Brown’s idea to cover the cost of renting a stage, lighting and sound equipment for a blues concert, scheduled for May 11 at Florewood Park.
Moore is right. He was misled, as were others who listened to Brown pitch the idea that day in the supervisors’ boardroom. Brown indicated that Greenwood and Leflore County economic development officials were enthusiastic about subsidizing the concert, when in fact they told him that such an expenditure did not fit into the mission of either the Greenwood-Leflore Industrial Board or its privately funded arm. They did offer Brown a way to do what he wanted — namely, to divert money budgeted for economic development to other county priorities — but it was a huge stretch to suggest this was an endorsement of his idea.
Even if Brown had been more forthright, his idea should have been shot down on its merits.
The county has no business spending public money — even a comparatively modest amount — on a venture that provides marginal economic benefit and is designed mostly to put money in a private entity’s pocket.
Brown believes Florewood Park, once the site of a living antebellum museum, has potential to be developed into a significant recreational draw, including as a concert venue. Maybe he’s right, but if so, any investments in the park should be of a more permanent nature, not rental equipment that helps only one lucky promoter offset his costs.
As far as attracting concerts goes, one could argue, as some have, that the county would be better served by investing the money to improve the lighting and sound at the Leflore County Civic Center than trying to upgrade Florewood. Either way, whatever money is spent on concert infrastructure should used to benefit all promoters, especially our own homegrown and nonprofit ones.