McDermott accepts $40k from visitors authority
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent July 3, 2014 12:26PM
Updated: July 4, 2014 2:02AM
HAMMOND — Mayor Thomas McDermott said the city will accept the $40,000 sponsorship from the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority for the upcoming Festival of Lakes.
McDermott on Thursday morning posted on Facebook that the city will accept the SSCVA’s offer of sponsorship.
“We greatly appreciate the SSCVB’s $40K donation to Hammond’s Festival of Lakes. We accepted their generous donation,” McDermott wrote on his Facebook page.
SSCVA board chairman Vic DeMeyer said the sponsorship is contingent on McDermott signing the agreement sent by the SSCVA’s attorney to the mayor Wednesday asking whether he is or is not accepting the sponsorship.
“The board’s position is very clear. After all the drama … we want it in writing where you are. That’s the board’s position. No signature. No money,” DeMeyer said.
As of late Thursday afternoon, there was no confirmation that the contract had been signed, but critics of the deal were adding comments to McDermott’s Facebook page.
The decision is the latest in a string of events that began June 19 when McDermott appeared before the SSCVA board to apologize for behavior 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. The meeting signaled a truce between the mayor and the agency.
McDermott said he decided to accept the sponsorship because, “at the end of the day, it felt like that was the right thing to do. It’s nice they have always been sponsors.”
The mayor said he and Batistatos have disagreements about a lot of things, but the SSCVA wants to help the Festival of the Lakes and he wants to accept that help.
In exchange for the sponsorship, McDermott said, the SSCVA and its guests will be “treated like rock stars.”
“They are the second highest sponsor we have for the festival,” McDermott said.
As for the truce between him and the SSCVA, McDermott said he will not make unprofessional comments about the air show.
“As far as how the (SSCVA) budget is approved, I feel the way I do,” McDermott said.
The mayor said he is saddened the air show had to be canceled.
“I wish it would happen,” he said. “I know they spent a lot of money.”
Last year, the festival received $30,000 from the SSCVA. Sponsorships the 10 years before that were $20,000.
At the June 19 meeting, Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, and DeMeyer told the board the final decision on any amount was contingent on their approval. In a special meeting Monday the board hashed out the situation and decided to sponsor at $40,000.
McDermott returned to social media Tuesday following the decision, declaring the terms of the truce were violated. He contacted Batistatos and turned the money down. Wednesday the SSCVA board in an emergency executive session decided to keep the offer on the table and had their attorney send a letter asking McDermott to confirm whether he was accepting or turning down the sponsorship.
DeMeyer said Batistatos received a text from McDermott on Thursday morning saying they have accepted the $40,000 offer.
“Speaking on behalf of the board, I’m glad it’s over. We are proud to support this event and any other event that meets our criteria,” DeMeyer said.