Monday, December 28, 2009

Webb Loves the Land of Sunshine


It's obvious Perry loves Florida and visits as often as possible using the uber convenient Chamber of Commerce American Express card.

July 2006 it was off to Palm Beach

Four Points by Sheraton

Miami Beach in March 2007

Orlando in March of 2008

The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach - July 2008

Does the CEO collect a fat cat salary in addition to receiving volunteer commissions everyone is talking about? Or is it possible he was actually trying to bring new business to Springdale from the sandy shores of the coast?

Supporting the Business Community



The Springdale Chamber of Commerce thought it was such a great idea to have a networking coffee on Thursday mornings that they planned theirs right on top of the NWA-Biz-Net group.

Way to show your support for a group that was doing something to strengthen your business community.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who's Cable Bill is the Chamber Paying?

Every month the Chamber of Commerce's cable bill remains steadily between $39-$45.

Out of the blue, in January 2008 we see a sudden increase to $151.95.

Of interest are the two separate account numbers written in at the top of the check (we've partially blocked to protect the "innocent") in addition to Perry Webb's name written in the corner.

Hmmmmm

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Bologna Has a First Name...

Chamber of Commerce cheerleader Steve Caraway reported in the Morning News on December 13 that the Chamber will separate private funds from public funds beginning in 2010.

Mayor Sprouse thinks this will take away a lot of those questions that some folks have.

In the Opinion Section of the Morning News a couple days later appeared HOW WE SEE IT - Less Room For Doubt in Springdale. "There is no need to question the chamber officials' integrity at this point because there's no evidence of wrongdoing" and "that's why we cheered Chief Executive Officer Perry Webb's recent announcement that starting in 2010, the chamber will segregate city funds from its other funds..."

I am hearing rumblings about whether the new changes are really for transparency and accountability or merely a shelter from future FOIA requests.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Mystery Deepens

It is obvious that checks written from the Springdale Chamber of Commerce operating account either require or normally have two signatures. As they should.

We have uncovered another mysterious check that defies this basic rule of Accounting 101. This one was written for an employee's relocation. Whatever that means.

We never received any explanation, let alone a logical one for the other check we found that didn't follow the two signature rule.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blah Blah Blah

A member of Springdale Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors hand-delivered a letter to citizen watchdog Anita Davis back in late October regarding the letter written by Ervin & Company which included recommendations for improving the Chamber's accounting practices.

Chairperson Blake Hanby signed the letter and stated an investigation was conducted and he was pleased and proud to announce no misconduct or wrongdoing on the part of the Chamber or its staff.

The letter also accuses Ms. Davis of not submitting the revenue portion of their shoddy bookkeeping to the CPA for inspection and goes so far as to reprimand Davis for questioning the integrity of the hardworking men and women of Springdale's business community.

In an effort to either clear the air or defend herself, Ms. Davis responded to Hanby insisting all documentation was provided to Ervin & Company including revenue. She also made her opinion quite clear that she feels the Springdale Chamber of Commerce is completely ineffective when it comes to economic development.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

All In The Family

We have prepared a quick list of payments made to landscaping companies (there were two) and to Perry Webb's daughter (former Chamber employee) and son-in-law, owners of Showcase Lawns.

1. We do not know what address or addresses were being landscaped.

2. We do not know why the Chamber used more than one company.

3. We do not know why the checks were sometimes made out to the company and sometimes made out to the owners of the companies.

4. The Chamber's lawn has been referred to as the size of a postage stamp.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Party in Paris

The issue has been raised that this meeting might have been more responsible had it been held locally.

That would not only have done more to support local business, it would have cost much less and allowed for more citizen input by those who maybe couldn't afford to take an expensive trip to strategize about our town nearly three hours away.

More than $40,400.00 was spent by the Chamber of Commerce for just Mount Magazine Lodge and 9G Enterprises on this weekend getaway. We do not know how much members who attended paid for the trip (if anything).

The Iconoclast: The Chicken that Laid The Golden Egg

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FYI on FOI

This isn't Perry Webb's first rodeo with the Freedom of Information Act and it appears to me he doesn't like it much.

This is an excerpt from Lynch at Large blogs from 2006 wherein FOIA requests were sent to the Springdale Chamber of Commerce regarding the planning, financing, construction and operation of the baseball stadium.

Only a month earlier Webb admitted to meeting with council members one-on-one for the sole purpose of skirting potential FOI requests.

UPDATE: A month earlier than that, in July 2006 and against the advice of the City Attorney, Webb refused to release documents requested by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act.

FOIA Used to Attack Volunteers

The 2010 Springdale budget went to the City Council for approval two weeks early according to a newspaper article November 17, 2009.

Perry Webb and Blake Hanby announced the Chamber will begin to segregate the previously co-mingled funds and claims they will use invoices to make payments from any of the city's funds. Webb also used this forum to make the statement that the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act has been used to "target the Chamber volunteers."

Nonsense. Webb still doesn't get it.

According to www.dictionary.com a volunteer is a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking; a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

Am I the only one to think handing out luxurious trips based upon a percentage of sales makes them something other than a volunteer?

Springdale citizens were kept in the dark about this budget meeting as it was was conveniently absent from the public calendar. The 2010 budget passed without a hitch or mention of the Chamber of Commerce and the money they will continue to receive from the city.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

There Will Be Layoffs!

This is an older newspaper article from April 2009. We felt we needed to quickly bring it back to the forefront again as we believe it will become relevant when we delve into more recent developments involving the City of Springdale and how they spend our tax dollars.

In this article, Mayor Doug Sprouse discusses cutting expenses from public safety, police and fire departments. Sprouse is also quoted as saying "there will be some layoffs."

Hogs at the Trough

Quick compilations created by us to give you an overview of how the Springdale Chamber of Commerce spends their dining dollars.

Dining compilation sorted by date
Dining compilation sorted by restaurant

It's obvious they didn't spread the wealth of local dining dollars equally. There were a select few restaurants in town frequented almost daily.

Don't miss this blog & hilarious photo from The Iconoclast: Chickendale Cowbirds Chowdown

Monday, December 14, 2009

If You Count Churches....

We recently reported on the three charitable contributions we were able to locate made by the Chamber of Commerce.

You quickly let us know we left out the local churches, so we dug a little deeper and here is what we found.

According to the Chamber of Commerce website, there are 96 churches in the area. Of those 96, they deemed the following four worthy of donations:

First Presbyterian Church - Springdale, AR
Sweet Home Baptist Church - Camden, AR
Friendship Baptist Church - Springdale, AR
First Baptist Church - Springdale, AR

I don't know what these payments were for and frankly I'm puzzled by what a church in Camden does for the economy of Springdale. BUT before you decide to go and light something on fire in my front yard, this isn't about the churches. That is a very personal decision each of us makes. I just don't think the Chamber should decide which churches our city should make donations to.

Fun Fact: The First Baptist Church of Springdale seems to be a favorite.

1) They received three separate donations and

2) They were the only church invited to enjoy the elite skybox for a Naturals baseball game.

The Iconoclast: The Cowbirds of Summer

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dogs on a Plane

This is an actual copy of sales activity for the Springdale Chamber of Commerce as provided by one local travel agency. This is not a complete list,  many were booked through other sources which were not provided although requested.

A guide created by us listing flight destinations based upon the airport codes listed on the travel agency’s report above.

This document is a quick compilation created to give you an overview of how those travel dollars are being spent.

The Iconoclast: Behind the Cowbird Curtain

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Philanthropic Organization?








We hate to only focus on the negative so today we would like to take a moment to show you some philanthropic giving by the chamber of commerce. This is all we've found so far - listed in order of amount donated. If we've missed any, please let us know.

The Susan G Komen Foundation.......... $200

Circle of Life Hospice Memorial for Cora Webb.......... $1,000

The William J Clinton Foundation.......... $1,680

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where Do You Buy Ink Pens?

Let's face it. Buying office supplies isn't much fun for most of us. But the Springdale Chamber of Commerce has found a way to make it more enjoyable. They get office supplies at Lands' End! Who would have thought?

Don't let the hoopla surrounding the Office Depot grand opening in Springdale back in 2007 fool you. That was just for show. The Chamber knows real office supplies - the good kind - come from places like Lands' End, Bose, iTunes, etc.

Oh, and let's not forget Hickory Creek Marina.

Thank goodness, The Fayettevillage Voice figured out where to buy their office supplies.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Luck of the Irish

Perry Webb makes no secret of his love for Notre Dame's Fighting Irish, but he might be trying to keep it a secret that the Springdale Chamber of Commerce pays for his trips to watch them play.

Mr. Webb might say he gets a commission for selling sponsorships for programs as he was quoted in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. This is the same explanation used by Brian Moore for his exotic honeymoon and anniversary trips.

However, it seems improbable Webb would get a commission on top of an already lofty salary. See 2007 Form 990 ( pg. 5).

Another explanation given by 2009 Chairman Blake Hanby is that members pay the Chamber back for the trips. Giving Webb the benefit of the doubt, we searched every bank deposit provided by the Chamber and found nothing from anyone with the last name WEBB.

See the flight itinerary for September 26 - 28 , 2007.

This airline ticket for October 14, 2007 cost the Chamber $1025.90. Coincidentally, there was a sold out rivalry game against USC held that weekend.

The 2007 Notre Dame Football Notes.

Pictures from Webb's Twitter Account

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Project Economy

It has been reported by television station 40/29 that sporting goods chain ACADEMY SPORTS OUTDOORS will be breaking ground on a new building in Rogers before Christmas this year.

I'm sure the City of Springdale and their Chamber of Commerce / Economic Development Committee were so busy recruiting businesses in Amsterdam they couldn't lure this one our way.

http://www.4029tv.com/video/21892058/index.html

Best Place to Raise Kids

The Thursday, December 3, 2009 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Times ran a very large advertisement for the Springdale Chamber of Commerce wherein they pat themselves on the back for Springdale being voted the best place to raise kids in Arkansas by Business Week.

This has been a popular topic of discussion (see below) because although they are honoring Springdale, they chose to use a photo of Dickson Street - Fayetteville.

Sorry to beat a dead horse here, but couldn't resist after seeing that ad.

The Arkansas Times Blog

The Iconoclast: Dubious Distinction

The Fayetteville Flyer

Brian Takes Moore Trips...

Two days after his beautiful wedding ceremony in 2006, Brian Moore whisked away his new bride on a romantic getaway to the Island of Tahiti, French Polynesia. The Springdale Chamber of Commerce graciously picked up the $8,605.40 tab.

Moore, former chairman of the chamber's executive board, told Richard Massey of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette he has no apologies. Moore insists he earned this trip as well as the $10,436.88 anniversary cruise to Istanbul, Turkey a year later "volunteering" to peddle advertising for the Chamber on a 15% commission basis.

There's something just not quite right about being a volunteer and yet paid commissions at the same time.

The 2009 Chairman, Blake Hanby, gave us a different scenario with his explanation to reporter Steve Caraway for the Morning News. Hanby claims that trips were paid for by the Chamber and then reimbursed by the traveler.


I don't know which is the case here, but the fact that Moore was able to volunteer enough of his time to earn such high dollar trips makes me wonder when he had time to do his regular full-time job.

UPDATE: The previously posted wedding photo has been removed at the request of Mr. Moore. Our intent was simply to show the correlation between the date of the wedding and the date of the Tahiti trip.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Whatever Floats Your Boat

Unfortunately, after a lengthy search, we have come up empty handed. All we can do is speculate what kind of vessel is being stored at the Hickory Creek Marina while being paid for by the Chamber of Commerce.

Isn't it unfortunate the American Express bill doesn't provide a slip number or something the Chamber uses to hide their ride?

My imagination is getting the best of me. Is it a houseboat, ski boat, pontoon, rowboat - what?! And who does it belong to? I could be wrong I suppose, but I have a gut feeling it's not a rowboat.

Surely someone out there has waved at a local chamber member cruising Beaver Lake while working their butts off bringing in new business. Do tell.

UPDATE - Another possible clue: http://www.uschamber.com/institute/who/trustees.htm Webb's biography on the US Chamber of Commerce Institute lists his favorite stress reducers as golfing and get this...BOATING!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Sound of Music...

Studies show employees are more productive in a stress-free environment and listening to music can help relieve tension. The Springdale Chamber of Commerce is no exception. The only slight difference from the rest of us is their tastes seem to require more modern, up-to-date musical equipment in order to properly stimulate Springdale's economy. Can you just imagine them bringing a boombox from home?

Music to your ears or band of thieves?

Purchases from XM Radio


Purchases from Bose



Purchases from iTunes
Purchase from cooligear


Purchase from ZoomSystems @ DFW
Purchase from HDaccessory

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FREE RENT

The Chamber of Commerce paid $1,600 a month rent back in 2007 for an executive suite at the Link's in Springdale. Perry Webb signed the lease agreement, but who was staying there?

The American Express statements used to pay the tab are inconsistently coded. Some have no code, others have 61400, rent, and professional fees...


Here is what you get in a $1600 Executive Suite.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Accountant Says...

A letter to Perry Webb written April 20, 2009 from the accounting firm, S.F. Fiser & Co., admits monies received from the City of Springdale, formerly belonging to the taxpayers, is deposited as unrestricted revenue and co-mingled with other contractual income. The letter goes on to say it would be “inappropriate” to segregate contractual and unrestricted revenue without providing a specifically designated purpose.

In another letter written September 11, 2009 to Anita Davis from the Chamber’s former accounting firm, Ervin & Company, recommendations were made that the Chamber review their system, procedures and software.

The firm also recommends keeping better committee minutes, implementing annual audits, and admits unrestricted and contractual income has been “co-mingled.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

$12,000 Mystery

I can't explain why, but this $12,000 mystery has bothered me for quite some time. It might have a reasonable explanation, but nobody is talking. The silence just keeps nagging at me. Can anyone out there explain it?