News for the Hospitality Executive
|The Denver Post
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 6, 2003- Eugene Dilbeck, the president of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, who was fired by the organization's board on Tuesday, served the area admirably during the past decade.
The bureau is being tight-lipped about what led up to the decision.
Outgoing Chairman Walter Isenberg said that the board had "lost confidence in (Dilbeck's) ability to lead the organization into the future." The factor involved had built up over a period of time, according to Isenberg, and a party attended by bureau staffers put on by the Diamond Cabaret strip club was "the straw that broke the camel's back."
From our perspective, it appears that Dilbeck has been treated rather poorly by the bureau, considering that he was a moving force behind the expansion of the Colorado Convention Center and the building of a convention hotel (both currently under construction).
Dilbeck also has racked up about $1.1 billion in future convention business. It's interesting to note that Dilbeck took the post in 1993, shortly after the state's tourism tax expired.
We have trouble buying Isenberg's explanation that the after-hours party for bureau staffers was inappropriate, because the Diamond Cabaret is a member of the organization. (Other members, such as hotels and restaurants, also host events for bureau staffers.) Also, we are told, the event was held in a private room overlooking the dance floor, was open to all staffers and other bureau members, and no dancers came up to the room. The Diamond Cabaret picked up the tab -- no public funds were involved. Dilbeck himself wasn't present.
It's possible that such events at strip clubs may be placed off-limits to staff members, but it strikes us as a little curious that the bureau will accept dues from such establishments while looking down its nose at what are, after all, legal businesses.
Word is that Dilbeck can be abrasive with people, but it's worth noting that he still managed to drum up convention business aplenty, which, after all, is what he was being paid to do.
Another issue that has emerged is the commingling of about $17 million of public funds -- the bureau gets about 70 percent of its funding from the public coffers -- with dues and other money from members and private-sector contributors.
The bureau's finances are being examined by Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher, and the concern is that none of the public funds can be used to pay for alcohol. Isenberg says the bureau plans to take corrective action on the commingling issue, and that's reassuring, although we wonder why it's taken three years for the board to notice that this is an issue.
Isenberg declined to divulge specifics about why the board had lost confidence in Dilbeck, citing personnel policy restrictions. At some point, though, the public (which pays most of the tab) deserves to know why a man who arguably has helped put Denver on the map as a desirable convention location was so cavalierly shown the door.
Editorials alone express The Denver Post's opinion. The members of The Post editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman and publisher; Bob Ewegen, deputy editorial page editor; Todd Engdahl, assistant editorial page editor; Peter G. Chronis, Angela Cortez, Dan Haley and Penelope Purdy, editorial writers; Mike Keefe, cartoonist; Barbara Ellis, news editors; and Fred Brown and Barrie Hartman, associate members.
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