McDermott signs agreement with tourism group
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent July 8, 2014 11:22AM
Updated: August 10, 2014 6:23AM
HAMMOND — Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has signed a $40,000 sponsorship agreement with a local tourism group, putting to rest a weeklong dispute over the amount and patching up a truce between the agency and the mayor.
Vic DeMeyer, chairman of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Board, confirmed the sponsorship agreement had been signed.
“Apparently the mayor has finally agreed to take the money and sign the agreement,” DeMeyer said Monday.
The agency obtains signed agreements from every event it sponsors, in this case Hammond’s Festival of the Lakes. The agreement is in keeping with the SSCVA’s long-standing policy of not giving money to for-profit events.
“I do hope it’s over and I am looking forward to moving forward,” DeMeyer said.
The SSCVA board approved the $40,000 sponsorship June 30 in a special meeting. McDermott had asked for $50,000 in exchange for his cooperation in not speaking out to the press and in social media against the move of the South Shore Air Show from the Lake Michigan lakefront in Gary to Fair Oaks Farms in Newton County. He also agreed to hold off from lobbying state legislators to bring the SSCVA budget under the review of the Lake County Council.
McDermott said last week the lesser amount approved by the board violated the agreement brokered in mid-June among him, DeMeyer and Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the SSCVA.
The resulting public sparring over whether or not the mayor would accept the sponsorship lasted a week.
McDermott on Monday confirmed he signed the agreement and said he no longer wished to discuss it.
“I just don’t feel it’s appropriate to comment on this anymore. There are too many other important things going on in the region right now,” McDermott said.