Best Seasonal Video Awarded to Tourism Development
TDC Committee Report Card of Ocala Visitor and Convention
The Tourist Development Committee is the private Video
and Image program, where you can find out what is really happening in Marion County Tourism Circles.
While Private Programs continue to lead in Video and Art promotional programs and innovative solutions, the Government
Effort is now definitely on the right track. Tourist deserve to know the Florida Best Visit Solutions and TDC Ocala
Visitor and Convention Bureau is now helping to get the word out. The Ocala TDC Directors are now showing an interest
in the Video and 2-D Image promotional efforts long held as responsible for a substantial portion of tourism in Marion
County. Discover Marion County. com and Ocala Best along with Marion County CC. Com lead the polling again for 2014.
We believe that the Ocala Visitors and Convention Bureau would have recieved an "A" if it were
not for the emergence of the new Partnership of the Ocala Chamber, Ocala City and Marion County. The state development
authorities are showing signs of withdrawling support of single company selections. The Ocala Chamber Partnership with
Marion County may lose taxpayer funding in the future.
effort was developed many years ago to prompt the well intented state economic development program to help firm from outside
Florida find answers in their search to relocate.
Once there were many Chambers in Mario
County, Now there is only one official Chamber and they are a partner with Government. Now The Ocala Chamber of Commerce
has Partnered with Marion County Government and become the official Agency of Marion County. This County welfare funding
of a private firm has place an unfair burden on all the private and public businesses in Marion County who must try to compete
on an unfair playing field.
Even the OVCB has seen their venue reduced. Once a central
part of promoting Tourism to Businesses of Marion County, today the Chamber is the actual official Partner of Marion County
Government. This years Marion County Day was dominated by The Chamber Partnership. Citizens received almost no
support promoting Marion County. While we received no support and asked for none, we were by far the most effective
organization in Marion County surpassed perhaps by the Ocala Visitors and Convention Bureau new more effective promotional
the Marion County Department in charge of directing the voter approved tourism tax has made giant strides in addressing best
Recent accomplishments include:
1. A professional bid process to hire the Marion County Tourism advertising firm year
to year. Congratulations.
2. Aggressive auditing and attention to professional conflict of interest issues. While it is difficult
to achieve perfection, real thoughtful efforts have been made to have all business by officials be clear of conflict of interest
and also avoid the appearance of conflict. When conflict appeared to be at issue, an professional approach to vet each
specific issue has helped build credibility for the Ocala Tourism and Visitors Bureau.
3. Past official business situations that appeared to lead to a
residual benefit enuring to TDC Ocala Director Employers continue to be addressed.
Marion County Singer and Movie Star, Kaye Stevens promotes our great community to the end, especially representing and remembering our veterans.
Over the past decade many great retirees have made Marion County their home and a better place. In 2014 Marion
County's portion of The Villages has again been the source of Tourism in from Lake and Sumter counties and unbelievable growth
in business in the area.
Visit Belleview Florida voted Best Florida Visit Destination Springs District
Marion Sun Times: 111512 Mimi Lash
Mayor Christine Dobkowski continues inovation and improvements from
her office. Family and friends watched as Mayor Dobkowski and the city council got down to work over the years of the
first term in office. Now we are ready for the second term of solutions.
Sub-plot: Mayor Dobkowski welcomes the new buyer to town and is helping to bring
back the Central Florida State Bank to its former glory. She has been instrumental in bringing to Belleview the Marion
County Utilities Service Center to the middle of their market. Moving from Ocala where they had no customers, Marion
County Utilities is another indication of Officials helping to bring efficiency to Government Operations.
Ocala Best effort recognition for clean campaigning in the Marion County recent races. All of the Candidates did a great
term elections are on our doorstep with the 2014 selections by voters. It appears Marion County Commission leadership
will continue strong into the next few years. Interestingly, the Mario County School Board races have proved exciting
with considerable changes expect in School Board policies in the near future.
New appointments are due at the Ocala Tourism and Visitors Bureau. It appears that the effective reform of the
past few years will continue. All of Marion County will benefit from improved outcomes for Tourism in Marion County.
Gander Mountain's Terry Patterson Florida Archery
Stop Non Profits from grant writing. This growing second level of Government is living off borrowed funds from foreign governments. We have to borrow
from the RED Chinese, all the funds that non profits live off. Future budgets may exclued welfare to the Ocala Chamber
Partnership with Marion County. See budget discussions in 2014 for more heated debate on welfare to private companies
like the CEP of Ocala.
Marion County surges ahead in the fight
for Tourism Dollars to promote Marion County. Currently Ocala has all the funding meant for Marion County but the tide
is turning if favor of Marion County.
Pro Bono Marketing by Marion County TDC and EDC has created new hope for Marion County Economic Recovery.
Marketing interest are taking back control of Marion County from Ocala interest. Everywhere you look is an Ocala interest
taking a portion of Marion County funds. Ocala/Marion County is now the best once proud residents of Marion County
can expect. We can't find Marion County on a map so we use Ocala to represent our area declared board members at the
Ocala Visitor & Convention board meeting recently. Just because we say Ocala, doesn't mean we are not giving Marion
County equal promotion declared a consensus of the board members present. Controlling Tourist Development Tax funds
to support groups with the Ocala Logo has become a trend in recent years. Ocala CC.com the Ocala Chamber website is
now challenged by the Marion County Chamber of Commerce and the Ocala EDC is now being overtaken by The EDC Marion County.
Marion County Residents are successfully fighting back with Marion County branding via a host of powerful Pro
Bono Tourist Promotional efforts. Commissioners and Marion County Administration officials are moving to take control
of the Ocala Tourism board. "Years of no oversight has created a monster double system", declared Marion Visitors
and Convention board member Steve Hunter. Equal but separate is proven to be unfair to the majority of Marion County
Residents. The Ocala interest uses Marion as a location as in the Ocala Logo that shows that Ocala is in Marion County.
For every 10,000 persons in Ocala, there are 50,000 persons in Marion County that will now be represented.
of oversight by the Ocala Tourism board has resulted in a fast track promotion effort by the Ocala Tourism Board recently,
of sports employee Matt Dunn as shown in the Marion County $80,000 application for the soon to be vacated Executive Director
position of Ocala Visitor Bureau. Invoking a little known Article 7 Insider exemption of hiring exemption for a current
employee, the Ocala Tourism Board waved requirements to be open to all Marion County qualified applicants, under hiring policy
1-6 in County Policy 14.01. Pro Bono HR experts have asked County Administrator Lee Niblock and Marion County Commission
Chairman Stan McClain to follow Florida Statute 125.0104 along with County Policy 12.01 and .02 in hiring and oversight of
the Ocala Tourist Board. County Clerk David Ellspermann recently declared that there were no weaknesses in the oversight
of the Ocala Tourism Board has been brought into question by policy statements that declare Marion County Administration has
no oversight authority over the Ocala Board.
Viva La Florida recently recognized Marion County as the geographical
area that also includes Ocala. This was an important recognition breaking the trend for Ocala based organizations to
represent our Marion County Board of County Commissioners. Marion County Chamber of Commerce, EDC Marion County, TDC
Marion County and VTC Marion County all have asked for recognition and support in promotion of Marion County Tourism Development.
Marion County TDC is raising concerns about branding Marion County Florida.
report by the TDC Marion County Florida:
We have uncovered have potential problems that could have grave consequences for the Marion County Commission, County
Clerk, and the Marion County Administration. County officials we speak with are under the impression that the MCTB
does not operate under the oversight of the Marion County Administrator, yet Mr. Ellspermann the MC Clerk of the Court, clearly
found that the County Administrator had full oversight as indicated by his Report Conclusion: "VCB
was organized and accounted as a County department that was under the oversight of the County Administrator and was subject
to the same internal operational, financial, purchasing and budgetary controls of any other department." Clearly
there is a fundamental gap a mile wide between actual oversight responsibility by the County Administrator and the findings
of Mr Ellspermann.
appears to be no connection between oversight reality and the Clerk's report findings.
We feel that there is a need for a community discussion
per FS 125.0104, and the Sub District Ocala that currently has control of Marion County Tourist Development tax dollars. We
feel that arguments for the Marion County interest must be heard in additon to the Ocala interest. The Florida Statute
requires a separate district ordinance for a sub district.
While Florida Statutes requires a single board member
to be from the the county's largest city, we feel it is time to have a community discussion of the name of the Marion County
Tourism Development Council and the current appearance presented that Marion County can be represented as Ocala. The
Ocala interest feel strongly that Marion County must do business as Ocala however we feel just as strongly that Marion County
is a Vital Destination and can stand as it is named in the ordinance as the Marion County Tourist Development
be advised that It is our belief that both Marion County Administrator Dr. Niblock, and David Elispermann are at extreme
professional risk because of irregularities uncovered recently in the Clerks report in another TDC experiencing problems,
and the assurance that the Marion County Administrator had full departmental control over the Marion Tourist Development Council. (See Link)
Additionally, commissioner Stone has been under the impression that he
is a liaison to the board, when in fact he is by ordinance a required full board member with fiduciary responsibility. Commissioner
Stone has been filling a role of observer without over sight responsibility. You Lee have been under the impression
that you are excluded from oversight by FS 125.0104 and the Marion County Ordinance marion county florida (Ord. No. 04-17,
§ 3, 7-6-2004)
The TDC of Marion County has uncovered several serious irregularities that cause grave concern, we need an open
forum to express the concerns that must be addressed. We feel that a quick wording change by the BCC would appear as
a cover-up of years of not oversight by the Administration because they didn't know they had oversight. Please take
these comments as constructive and not as criticism. We all know that if you knew you had oversight of this county department
you would address those duties with the same dignity, integrity and professionalism that you handle your other Marion County
According to the report by Mr Ellspermann, the Clerk
of the Court was aware of irregularities so serious, from another county that a study was undertaken to insure that The Marion
County Tourist Development Council was treated as a normal county department under the full control of The County Administrator.
from David Ellspermann's Report on the need for total Marion County Oversight with no weaknesses.
(Our previous reviews were generally limited to a testing of expenditures and
discussions with County management and staff concerning effectiveness of internal controls to ensure effective management
oversight. We concluded at that time the VCB was organized and accounted as a County department that was under the oversight
of the County Administrator and was subject to the same internal operational, financial, purchasing and budgetary controls
of any other department. BCC approval was required for large contracts and individual grants.
For this current review, we expanded our activities to include discussions with
VCB personnel and an on-site examination of pertinent documents.
We have concluded that TDT funds are used in accordance with County Code and that there are no
material internal control issues or weaknesses. We also determined that VCB and County personnel are in compliance with relevant
County policies and procedures. We did identify the following findings and recommendations in the following pages that are
submitted for management’s consideration.
It appears that the
Applicant and his boss the current Ex. Director of the Ocala Tourism Bureau are attempting to have this promotion declared
"appropriate to wave Section 14.01" Items 1 through 6 that guarantee a fair open evaluation of qualified applicants
from Marion County. There are no previsions in FS 125.0104 that allow the Ocala Tourism Agency Board to authority to
wave guarantees afforded other qualified candidates for director of the Marion County Tourism Executive Director. On
the contrary, FS 125 requires that sub section 125.0104 authorized persons act according to the Florida Statutes and Marion
County 14.01 and 14.02.
Our concern is that Federal Title VII and Marion County policy are being violated.
By written policy 14.01 and 14.02 an in house waver requires first a vacancy and only then the judgement of a waver
of 14.01 items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, in order to evoke item 7. A false "fast track" need undetermined by
the County Administrator was used to discriminate against all Marion County qualified persons protected under MC policy and
Title VII. Two persons, both with a conflict of interest, currently in the job of Ex, Director position, and her
assistant who would financially benefit from the determination of other qualified applicants. We have a great story
to tell and only want a chance to present our Marion County Tourism program to the Marion County Tourism Board, and the Marion
County Board of County Commissioners. There is a real concern that current Marion County Ordinance authorized taxes
are being used for the Sub District "Ocala", not approved by the voters of Marion County.)
The Marion County Administrator has never declared the vacancy "Vacant" because the position is
not yet vacant, and The Marion County Administrator has never deemed the special cercumstances exist that would block other
Qualified Marion County Residents from applying.
The fact that you are too busy to even bring up
this issue at this time proves our point that unnamed persons are attempting to fill this position with a single candidate
in violation of County Recruitment and Selection written policy.
Special interest who want
the 2 year sports employee on an inside track are trying to rush this promotion through. This is an important policy
position and it must wait per MC 14.02 procedures for your judgement to fill, retain, or hold vacant. The
Ocala Tourist Bureau has taken an insider information approach that I believe did not comply with our 14.02.
The current Executive Director has only anounced an interntion to retire, she is still in office and there is
no vacancy at this time. There is no vacancy yet as required in 14.01 and 14.02.
two camps in the promotion of Marion County.
Camp A: Ocala Visitor & Convention Bureau
Applicant Matt Dunn. Received a "no compete" insider track to his requested $80,000 application.
Other applications were blocked even though in-house advertising status was never deemed appropriate by the Marion County
Administrator as required in County Law. (14.01 and 02. OcalaMarion.com Candidate has 2 years and a few
months on the job. Mr Dunn's Strengths, experience and education are considerable in sports promotion. A senior
Human Services official commented that an important post such as the Executive Director of Marion County Tourism should be
open more than one applicant.
Ocala is a sub district and not considered a sports town by TDCMarion.
Marion County is not considered a sports venue having many other wonder treasures that could attract tourist. Promotion
centers around promoting outside golf events mainly that are bid on and promoted with the Marion County Visitor taxes.
Cost to tax payers is approx. $1,000,000 per year for the past 4 years. This camp refuses to even contact
local promotional interest that have world class promotional success on Internet visitor, tourism page one search engine results.
Camp A is a sub district based on the claim that Ocala is the county seat and deserves 90% of the promotion approved
by voters for Marion County tourism.
Camp B: Marion
County Tourism Bureau. Director Don Browning
It feels like we are getting the
run around by this 2 year employee and those close around him in the Ocala Camp.
The Marion County Visitor's Bureau has
been taken over by a sub district of Ocala. A branding of Marion County is considered worth fighting for by the board
of the TDC Marion.
Drew Adams has been helpful in sending necessary information on this mater.
It appears that on April 11 there was an announcement by the single applicant's boss Ann Sternal that was not
known or broadcast to the public. On the 13th of April there was an in-house advertising of the up coming potential
opening and Matt Dunn then had an exclusive opportunity at the $77,000 job. The decision to advertise internally automatically
discriminated against the many qualified candidates because there is an informal agreement in the county that no applications
can be taken if the "magic Internal advertisement" is issued yet under Marion County Policy 14.01 it takes a vacancy
and special intervention of the Marion County Administrator to by pass the safeguards against possible discrimination in items
1-6 of Policy 14.01.
Recruitment Policy 14.01 guarantees fair public announcements of job postings
in (1.) and in (3.) there is a clear guarantee of fair and open advertising and recruiting practices.
solely on the basis of knowledge, skills, ability, education and experience without regard to any individual's sex, race,
color, religion national origin, age, marital, status or disability.
It seems that
all these guarantees were crushed by a general statement that current Marion County recognizes advantages of promoting from
It seems that the term "When Appropriate" allows unnamed persons to automatically give a policy
making director post to a 2 year employee discriminating against all the interest of Marion County citizens.
Note: 14.02 Procedures for filling vacancies require you as county administrator to make the determination
on filling the not yet vacant position of Executive Director.
Discover Marion County's Board would not have noticed these problems if we had not spent the last 4 years developing a Marion County Promotional Program receiving zero support from Ann Sternal or Matt Dunn. Both Ms Sternal and Mr. Dunn are qualified persons and we
respect their professionalism in serving the citizens of Marion County. We also feel that the process must be lawful
and oversight must be appropriate for the Millions of Tax Dollars involved.
If we are to encourage
Marion County Citizens help our community prosper we must afford the same encouragement to all active participants.
Note the EconomicActionTeam.com has developed Economic Development Council EDCMarion.com, and MarionEDC.Com,
Marion Tourism Council TDCMarion.com, Marion Tourism Bureau VCBMarion.com all have been working to give All of Marion County
promotion in the race to develop a prosperous community.
We at least must be considered in the
manditory evaluation by the county administrator as stated in MC 14.02 Procedures for filling vacancies.
point out that Marion County has Silver and Rainbow Springs, hundreds of Horse Farms, Major Lakes, Rivers, and the Cross Florida
Trail System have improved as tourism venues.
Spokesman Walter Pine points out that our Treasured
Marion County has Golf Courses, Sports Venues, and more plus the finest hotels both large and small. Marion County's
Bed and Breakfast lodging is world class.
Call for Golf Specials like Free Burger & Draft Beer in Groups of 16.
County Citizens ask for the primary share of the Marion County Tax Funding currently going to the Ocala Visitor Center Sub-District.
is building for a Recall Petition by 15% of the voters required by FS. A small Sub-District has developed around
Ocala. An interest in attracting special events rather than promoting tourism for our unique treasures is causing concern.
Currently Ocala Visitors Bureau receives 100% of Marion County tax funding. Marion County residents receive 0%. Yes, ZERO is spent branding Marion County Tourism Brand.
Director Stephen Hunter points out that Marion County Economic Development depends on a fair
split of tax funding to promote all of Marion County. Citing the Ordinance that authorized Marion County as the Tourist
Ocala has under 20% of the population so they should receive at least 25% of the Tax Payer
promotional funding. Citizens of Marion County pay tourist taxes when ever they travel and deserve a fair share of Marion
County's tourism tax.
Come Fly with me, to Adventure TDC Marion
Eco Art Capital of the WorldŽ, Marion Tourism Council.