Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thomas L Friedman

This from the editorial page of the Key West Citizen. It doesn't have much to do directly with Key West. As usual, I'll make it fit.

I arrived at the Plantation early this morning. Janet left the house at 7:20 to go saling -- i.e., yard-saling -- with Roger this morning, before she goes to work at 10 o'clock.

As I arrived, Theo and David were looking at a letter in this morning's Citizen concerning Fantasy Fest. That led to a discussion about FF, what impacts it has on the community, positive and negative, and in what direction this great little town is headed. There are now two studies in progress that purport to examine the impact of tourism on the "quality of life" those of us who live here experience.

Fantasy Fest was inaugurated twenty-five years ago in response to a series of unfortunate events that threatened even the brief tourist season that pumped economic vitality into the town for some businesses and individuals.

Today, twenty-five years later, Fantasy Fest has taken on a life of its own, despite the fact that tourism is now pretty much a year-round activity. Fantasy Fest is operated under a five year contract awarded by the festival's owner, Key West Tourist Development Association, Inc., to The Market Share Company, Inc., a privately-owned firm that produces a variety of advertising, promotional literature, and events on behalf of others. The 2005 Fantasy Fest celebration is the last to be produced by Market Share under the terms of the current contract. Funding for Fantasy Fest, and for many other events throughout the Keys, is provided in part by the Monroe County Tourist Development Commission, which allocates a portion of the 3¢ bed tax generated from room rentals imposed on all transient rental properties.

The two studies I refer to above are, 1) the Resident/Visitor Planning Committee, whose work will end next Monday at their final meeting, scheduled for 5 PM at the audiotorium of the Monroe County Public Library on Fleming Street. A Final Draft Report will be approved then; and 2), a Cruise Ship Quality of Life Study, which the origins of, current status of, and schedule for are somewhat nebulous.

So, here's the hook to the Friedman column: If I can't be Tom DeLay, Lattrell Sprewell, a professional athlete, or drive a Hummer, I'd like to be the Mayor and City Commission of Key West, all rolled into one, kind of a King or benevolent dictator. I'd have this town whipped into shape in no time. I'd do it My Way.

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