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McDermott has noon deadline for SSCVA money

Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott/Sun-Times Medifile photo

Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott/Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: August 4, 2014 11:55AM



HAMMOND — The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority board members say the offer to sponsor Festival of the Lakes for $40,000 is still on the table if the city can provide the authority information on what is included in the sponsorship package by Thursday’s deadline.

Vic DeMeyer, chairman of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority board, said board members in an emergency executive session Wednesday decided after a long and spirited discussion to leave Monday’s offer of a $40,000 sponsorship on the table despite the apparent rejection of that offer by Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.

“The board is unanimously in favor of supporting this event. Nothing has changed,” DeMeyer said.

DeMeyer said the SSCVA’s attorney is forwarding a letter to McDermott today seeking to confirm the mayor has rejected the sponsorship offer.

“We are waiting for the mayor’s response. We certainly hope he takes us up on it,” he said.

McDermott said he is upset Speros Batistatos, SSCVA president and CEO, was unable to deliver what the men agreed upon behind closed doors.

“I don’t know the status of the offer,” McDermott said Wednesday. “The terms of that deal weren’t honored… I shook hands with the man. What am I supposed to do if Speros can’t honor the terms?”

He had not yet received correspondence from the SSCVA’s attorney on the status of the sponsorship and said he was unaware of what the agency was offering in light of the broken pact.

“Is this a $40,000 sponsorship with strings attached or just plain sponsoring?” McDermott said.

He said he would gladly take a $40,000 sponsorship and offer the SSCVA all that would come with the sponsorship at that level if it is not contingent on the terms of the truce that he said is no longer valid.

“If they are going to require Mayor McDermott to not be able to speak his free mind, to lobby legislators in the General Assembly; if I take it and they expect me to shut up not tell you how I feel, I can’t do that,” McDermott said. “If they are able to throw around money to shut up public officials, I don’t appreciate that.”

The board convened in emergency executive session to discuss the apparent breakdown Tuesday of the deal brokered by DeMeyer and Batistatos in June with McDermott.

In exchange for increased financial support to Festival of the Lakes, McDermott apologized to the SSCVA board and agreed to stop disparaging its members and Batistatos in the press and social media over the move of the South Shore Air Show from the Lake Michigan shoreline in Gary to Fair Oaks Farms in Newton County. McDermott had also agreed to hold his tongue on state legislation seeking to bring the SSCVA’s budget under county council scrutiny.

McDermott returned to social media Tuesday after the SSCVA board Monday failed to approve $50,000 in sponsorship for the Hammond festival, instead opting to sponsor at $40,000. He laid blame for the breakdown of truce at the feet of Batistatos.



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