Marion County Tourism Development Committee- TDC Marion

Book Next Year 

Come back during the year.

Visit the Nest on Lake Weir

and Gator Joe's

Watch for Eaton Beach opening

and launch at Carney Island.

A Discover Marion County Production 

Lake Weir Yacht Club

Ocala TDC spends about $1,000,000 a year on average since start up.  During difficult economic times, citizen's concerns are raised by spending by the TDC Ocala Board.   When it would make sense to hire and spend in Marion County,  citizens have trouble with a Jacksonville firm helping the Ocala Tourism Bureau spend money for web support and printing type purchases.  Gold and Associates of Jacksonville Florida, is used as a purchasing company to make even the simplest purchases for Marion County Tourism Promotion.  Simple items that typically would just be a matter of picking up the phone and asking for a few quotes is given to the Jacksonville firm of Gold and Associates to select a vendor.  We suggest it is time for new persons to be appointed to the Marion County TDC.   Citizens are justifiablly up set with what they see as poor management and apparent conflict of interest from the Ocala County TDC boards in the Ocala Visitor Bureau.  

Citizens are questioning the no bid nature of much of the commerce of the Ocala Visitor's and Convention Center.  Since start up in about 2005, the accomplishments of the Ocala TDC have trended down some say "like plane with broken wings".  A recent example of no bid purchasing of $34,000 tax payer funding of work that should have been given to one of our local quality vendors.  A simple web site that local experts state could be built for $1,000 to $4,000 has cost the taxpayers tens of thousands over the years.  Now not functioning well, the web site is experiencing unwanted comments that could be avoided by simple techniques such as comments by viewers.  Usually a web designer selects a feature requiring viewers to put in a provided code shown on the page to keep machines from leaving unwanted messages and links.  This is a simple design selection yet our Ocala TDC is paying $34,000 to have what they call "hacking" prevention.  Considered a bogus amount of money for a simple solution local vendors are questioning the no bid nature of this type expenditure.

County Commissioner Charlie Stone appeared willing to stop sending valuable jobs out of the county.  Moments after voting for the no bid expenditure.  With high unemployment and difficult economic times it becomes important that government be as careful with dollars as private business must be just to keep the doors open.  Wasting money is usually followed by a call to raise taxes.  We have a fiscally conservative County Commission that will not raise taxes on people who are having a difficult time as is.  Every percent of tax on tourist who stay in our county for a single over night stay up to 6 months must pay a percentage of their lodging expenses to help us promote more tourism.  We all pay this tax when we travel to other locations.

 

Marion County Singer and Movie Star, Kaye Stevens promotes our great community to the end, especially representing and remembering our veterans.

Visit Belleview Florida voted Best Florida Visit Destination Springs District                               Marion Sun Times: 111512 Mimi Lash 

Mayor Christine Dobkowski enters office.  Family and friends watched as Mayor Dobkowski and the city council got down to work.

Sub-plot: City Clerk Sandi McKamey becomes mini mayor for a day last week, and calls a telephone meeting of the City Council as new mayor is about to take office.

Is an unelected city employee over playing her hand by operating outside public view?  Was her calling of council members a violation of the sunshine right of the public to be present?

Will Governor Scott have to Step In?

Top on the agenda was a question of city staff going around the public meeting and calling for a vote on a hiring decision outside the public meeting format as called for in Belleview regulations.  Discussion centered around private phone call polling of commissioners to give a go-ahead to a city employee to obligate the city to an employment obligation.  The hiring bypassed the general public during these high unemployment times.  Voting against the end run hiring incident that occurred just days before the new mayor would take office was Mayor Dubkowski.  The question is why have an open public meeting if decisions have already been made by private secret telephone voting.   The lawyer for the city clearly pointed out that council business must be conducted in the sunshine and public employees acting as Para-Commissioners is not legal.  Marion Sun Times on the Record.

 Ocala Best effort recognition for clean campaigning in the Ocala Mayor's Race::  Randall  Alvord.

Congratulations for a successful reign for Mayor Kent Guinn.

Mayor Christine Dobkowski welcomed and congratulated by the community as she introduces her Economic Action Team program for Belleview. 

more Quotes

Marion County hosts the Pumpkin Run, a Classic Auto Show, in Marion County Horse County, the Castro Farm east of Ocala.

Jacqueline's Hair Salon Awarded Ocala Best.  Discover Marion County 

State Ethics Commission asked to decide if public officials can award themselves contracts.

Buy Local has no meaning in Marion County
83.jpg
Commission Awards Contract to Jacksonville's Gold and Associates

1tourismphoto.jpg

Marion County Commission again awards Gold and Associates of Jacksonville, much needed Marion County Jobs.  As a follow up, Commissioner Stone led an effort to give Gold and Associates of Jacksonville a contract for $34,000 that could easily have been given to a local web design firm.  Local web designers feel it could have been accomplished for under $1,000 if done by a firm that was actually in the Web Security business.

Mimi Lash 10/28/11 Marion Sun Times

Outrageous is how some critics are describing the continued outsourcing of Ocala jobs to Jacksonville.

Purchasing bundled enough in one single package that all of the business had to be shipped out of town to Jacksonville.  Jobs lost in the over 50 with the Multiplier effect.  Resturants, hotels, printers, and creative services to suffer.  Incoming Commissioner Charlie Stone and Director Matt Dunn seen as controling the flow of funds out of town.  Ethics Commission may wade in on how the funds are spent on public official board member firms. Clerk of the Court reports Ocala Visitor and Convention Bureau is a normal county department in full compliance, however recent contracts show that it is the only department where officials can give their own firms business.  Florida Statutes 112.311 Example It is the policy of the state that no officer or employee … shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect; engage in any business transaction or professional activity

The Marion County Administration stepped over several qualified local businesses.  Our local people again lost employment opportunities in favor of outsourcing to Jacksonville, according to Best Florida Visit officials.

As unemployment surges in Marion County, Ocala's buy local program is ignored again causing hardship.  Sending our jobs away is at the heart of economic hardship in once booming Ocala.  

When will our Commission and select committees for employment contracts allow our local Ocala Businesses to compete for our own jobs.

Heritage Advertising was first to recognize the need to allow printing, video, photography, Internet services, billboards and other jobs to stay here in Ocala.

Concern over the failing program of billboard promotion from county officials in the billboard business, citizens formed the Marion County TDC in order to help reverse management shortcomings of the Ocala Visitor's Center. 

It appears that the efforts of the TDC Director Don Browning, to revitalize Tourism Promotion in Marion County is succeeding dispite years of outsourcing Millions of Tax Dollars to Jacksonville over the past several years.  Browning and other concerned citizens have funded their own effort to promote Marion County with the successful promotion of Marion County as the Best Florida VisitOcala Best, and Discover Marion County.  "It is a crime that we don't employee our great advertising people here in Marion County, because our people are out of work and the finest promotional resources in the state of Florida."

 

 "If we don't believe in ourselves, who would want to come here, or believe in our community," asked Browning in a recent interview.  "County Officials must have "rocks in their heads" to outsource needed employment opportunities."  The unemployed taxpayers are the people bypassed, yes they are the tax payers who pay Marion County Taxes, for heaven sakes."  "We are creating a County Wide Chamber, and our own TDC to turn around the slide caused by recent outdated programs.  This is the first time "Competition for the Right to Promote Marion County" has made a real contest out of a failing government program.  When we started collecting taxes to promote Marion County the revenue was almost double what it is now after millions has been spent with the Jacksonville Experts.  We think we can do a better job.  Billboards are great for local promotion, but many citizens feel signs on an interstate hi-way is not the best way to promote to the world of tourism.  Tourism Tax fall-off seems to prove their point.  "With the Viva La Florida promotion on an international basis, billboards may not be a good fit for us," stated Browning.  "The modern Billboard is the Internet, interactive and responsive to the need of tourist."  If a tourist hasn't had a chance to plan a Marion County Adventure Visit by the time they are driving by Ocala, it may be too late to interest them in our wonderful tourist opportunities.

The way our current billboard marketing program is connected with the On Top of the World billboard marketing program is a shift back into the old Burma Shave or South of the Border hi-way sign promotion days.  Long time Chairman of Tourism promotion is the Marketing Director of On Top of the World and we seem to be in a battle with The Villages for prospective customers.  State officials have been asked if the same public officials who develop the marketing program should give themselves the billboard business.  County Commissioner level investigating is asking why the Bidding process for Millions in Employment Dollars is bundled in such a big package that only outsourcing to Jacksonville. 

 

Gold and Associates of Jacksonville has always been the outsource selection for Tourist Promotion for the Ocala Visitor and Convention Center.  In a recent "test shopping" venture to determine the validity of the 'hard to find', County Offices for the Ocala Visitor Center, our test visitor found the offices empty, totally void of tourist, except for county employees.  In order for a visitor to find the Ocala Visitor's center a person would have to do the impossible.  Tucked behind the new courthouse on a one-way street, the Ocala Center seems a total waste of taxpayers dollars

The Marion County Commission Returns Billboard Executive to the Ocala Visitor And Convention Bureau TDC Board. 

in a closely watched appointment, the commission appeared to approve the Billboard Marketing direction of the  Ocala Tourism Board. Questions of concern over the close relationship between billboard customers and executives as government officials is raising concerns over the Florida Statutes governing Conflict of Interest (FS 112.311) and the Tourism Promotion Statute (FS 125.0104).  Should public officials be the awarder and also the awardee of the same business interest is the question.  Florida Conflict of Interest statutes are clear that no conflict or even the appearance of a conflict is allowed, however commissioners feel that "the statute requires an interest in tourism and that allows industry executives to give themselves the business that they develop in the the course of their official duties.  It may take a judgement by State Ethics Officials to decide if public officials in the Tourism Promotion business are exempt from conflict of interest statutes.  Not all members of the Ocala Tourism Visitor and Convention Board are in a conflict of interest position, however it does seem all prefer to outsource employment bypassing local Ocala Businesses. 

OcalaTourism.jpg

Gander Mountain's Terry Patterson Florida Archery Champion!

Can Economic Development help reduce the National Debt?   Yes, and Yes!  We can achieve Florida EDC growth and local EDC growth in Marion County.  It is the only way.
Stop Non Profits from grant writing.  This growing second level of Government is living off borrowed funds from foreign governments.  We have to borrow all the funds that non profits live off. 

The Gross National Debt

Always the promoter, Jimmy Leeward was an Economic Team Leader for Florida.  Thank you Jimmy!

Marion TDC Businessman of the Year- 2011.

Marion County's Newest Mayor Christine Dobkowski Sets EDC Program for Belleview Florida.

Marion Sun Times presents Selection 2012® Get informed, it is your opportunity to vote in the best.
Representative Charles E. Van Zant Reception.
State Representative Charles Van Zant 
Florida House of Representatives, District 21 Marion County
At the Home of
Doctors Riadh & Manal Fakhoury  

All About Art of Belleview is the newest discovery of the tourist crowd flocking to Marion County.

Counted in the hundreds of thousands, The Villages launches interested knowledagble tourist on the shoppes of Marion County.

Browning's List selected All About Art as the 2011 Art Venue to Visit while in Marion County. 

Sit back and enjoy a small showing of art from All About Art of Belleview. 

 

 

The Marion County Commission is working in support of the needed Florida Economic Recovery.

EDC Marion County highlights the assets of Adventure and Fun in Marion County.

Sit back and enjoy a tour of Central Florida's Icons, past and present. 

Senator Alan Hays Presents Telescope!  Space Florida is your opportunity to get involved in Tomorrow.  Come on Down and Get Involved.

Visit Ocala County when you can.  We are ready to host you in an advernture of a lifetime.

 

Weirsdale Troop 113 Eagle Scout Celebration.


George Albright lll  kicks off the Inaugural Albright Charity Auto Show in Marion County.

Best Yellow Corvette Award goes to Don Browning for his amaizing Z06! 

Tourist travel from around the world to visit Kelly's Primary Oven in Ocala Florida.

Just in: Marion County has new Marion County Visitor and Convention Bureau. Private Enterprise working to promote tourism in Marion County.

Ocala takes over Visitor and Convention Center.
1tourismphoto.jpg
Marion County VCB kidnapped by Ocala and ReNamed!

Ocala Takes Marion County Identity and Funds.
hoodOcalaTourism.jpg
Ocala Takes over TDC Marion Tax Funds

A message from Governor Rick Scott.

All of Marion County works to promote tourism.  Every 71 tourist creates a new job in Marion County. 

At 14% unemployment private TDC Marion takes control! Events are fine but waste tax dollars. 

Promoting Marion County creates jobs and elevates cities economies. Join the Economic Action Team

Chairman McClain left the meeting wondering why county workers were comparing big cities with little Ocala.  Marion County is 5 times larger than Ocala the chairman stated.

Marion County agrees to change name to Ocala,causing outrage. 

Ocala gets free Visitor and Convention Center paid for by Marion County. 

Unemployment Grows as Marion County funds are Lost to Ocala.  

Marion County Citizens express concern and may force court decision to determine if  Marion County can be Officially named Ocala in world wide branding. 

Around a circle of tables and a big Gaudy Ocala Logo, Marion County government kind of melted and moped, to the dismay of the crowd.   Only listening to themselves, sat a government persons one after another each more important then the next in their own eyes.  Elected officials never got to hear from the real Private Enterprise officials in the room.  The Public had called the meeting to help stodgy County workers find their way, but the Government was in no mood to hear solutions.  What a mess government can make on their way to giving themselves an "A +" for a performance that would get them fired in the real world.  Never have so few been so unproductive and unimpressive.  The best way to test our government business plan is to see if it continues the multi year down hill spiral.  If they are really bad we will know by the poverty and lack of funds, stated Commissioner Charlie Stone.  What is really depressing is these were Republicans who believe in the private sector, hearing only from the public sector.  Millionaire Makers in the audience that could dance circles around the government workers were asked to stay in their seat and not speak.  What a waste!
 
 Now the race is on, officially the OcalaCC has to deal with the Marion County CC, the Ocala EDC, has to deal with the Marion EDC, the Ocala TDC must compete with the private TDC Marion County, and the Government's own VCB Ocala has real competition in the Marion Visitor and Convention Bureau.   Private Business gets it right!  We are in Marion County and our name is the Marion Visitor and Convention Bureau.  We tried to tell them but they were only in listening to other Government workers bees.  How boring!

Private Business Did all they could to bring Ocala Group of Government Tourist folks on to the next level.  In a two hour workshop  designed to iron out difficulties with the Tax Payer Funded Ocala TDC, private citizens got an example of why Government is usually at a loss to perform.  Funded entirely by private donations, The TDC of Marion County is already promoting Marion County Treasures, while the Government group only wanted to talk to themselves. Impressed with their own importance and a  $1,000,000 in tax payer funding displayed arrogance.  They actually think Government is better than private Enterprise. Taking fundamentally different marketing paths, the private TDC Marion is moving on without further distractions.  Great ideas were swept aside while government officials indulged each other.  What shame for all the families that are suffering in poor economic times.

Putting "heads in beds" is not the goal of tourist development stated Don Browning TDC Marion Director.  "That's like saying "putting gas in tanks" is the goal of a gas tax roads program.  It is about the roads in the right area.  Following the analogy Marion County would collect the tax to contract for roads out away from Florida.  Spending our tourism tax funds to chase events is wasteful.  Promoting events benefits events mostly.  Promoting venues in Marion County is more like ity and totally in tune with The State Statute FS 125.0104 that authorizes the Marion Tourist Tax.

It's not hard to understand that promoting activities in Marion County is the way to benefit Marion County citizens.  We have 14% unemployment and the well paid county employees are patting each other on the back for a job poorly done.

The meeting was called because of citizens complaints after years of attempting to convince the Ocala TDC and Ocala VCB to use the Marion County Name in representing to the world.   Controversial Hiring conditions dampened the first meeting with the new Executive Director Matt Dunn, hired on as a sales person a bit over two years ago, Mr Dunn was recently give a fast track promotion when he others were blocked from even applying  the Ocala VCB Executive Director position. the rush to block other qualified applicants was concerning to the many unemployed qualified persons in Marion County.  Against the Marion County Rules the non vacant position was "Deemed Vacant" and the Administrator was Deemed to have approved a 14.02 waver to block other qualified persons from applying for the job.

 Mr. Dunn will have his hands full considering the building outrage of years of switching Marion County's Name to Ocala.  So up set after years of calling the Marion County TDC Ocala, and the Visitor Bureau Ocala, citizens have pick up the name and advanced the brand on their own.  Marion County commissioners even officially changed the Tourism name to OcalaMarion to the disappointment of Marion County residents.

 

The Public Outcry grew louder for even a court order request to force the Ocala Tourism Council and Visitor Bureau to have to follow use the name Marion County in their name.  Again today the Ocala TDC and the Ocala Visitors Bureau would would not stop using the Ocala Name.  It may take a law suit to force Marion County Commissioners to use Marion County as the county brand name.  In the mean time Ocala will stay up on the sign and all logos.  As difficult as it may seem, Ocala can not be removed as the Marion County name represented to the world.  Today Marion County Commissioner Stan McClain admitted that there simply were not enough votes on the commission to pass an ordinance to name Marion County as Marion County.  Citizens were stunned to arrive at the meeting to see a big Ocala projected on the screen as the name to be promoted as Marion County.

Stay tuned to see if the many TDC Marion County can gain support.  Ocala Marion Commission became part of the problem when they pass the OcalaMarion ordinance changing the name that would be represented to the world as Ocala-Marion County.  Even if we need new commissioners Citizen Don Browning TDC Director is determined to have Marion County represented as Marion County.

Marion County citizens fight back.  Stop the Alphabet  Confusion:  What is the VCB or the TDC and why does it matter?  It matters in millions of tax payers dollars because The TDC is used if approval to spend tax dollars is needed and VCB is used for authorization to spend tax payers dollars is needed.  This arrangement is likely illegal and certainly has the appearance of slight of hand.  This ploy is used for all important issues like changing the name of the TDC from Marion County to Ocala, or to block any other persons from applying for an important job.   

How to spend a million dollars in tax funds with out being accountable. We will try to explain but this ploy by Marion County Government is designed not to be logical except to appear that procedures are followed.

 

How Ocala got control of the Marion County Tourism Millions.  It was easy to do because the taxpayers of Marion County were intentionally confused by Marion County Government.  Chairman Stan McClain has called a workshop to work through the problems brought to light.  Good luck with that, this puzzle is so effective that most of the players don't actually understand it but they know it works.

 Here is an attempt to explain how this dysfunctional system works:  

Don't expect to understand this puzzle.

Step one:  How to Avoid oversight by the Marion County Administration and the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.

Circle of confusion.  TDC uses VCB to spend money.  The TDC (Marion County Tourism Development Council) uses the VCB Visitor and Convention Bureau to spend money.  Each is controlled differently so the VCB does the TDC's work, and the TDC does the VCB's work.  Try to break that code!

The VCB is under full oversight by the Marion County Administration, but all business is conducted by the TDC and therefor oversight is avoided. 

 

All parties are able to claim plausible deniability because each both oversight organizations are only allowed to oversee the organization they do not control.  Both the TDC and the VBC are in fact able to operate as they please.

 Example: The TDC gets all approvals directly from the MCBCC (Marion County Board of County Commissioners) thereby avoiding all Marion County Administration oversight.  

 The VBC does all of the spending of tax dollars and thereby avoids the oversight of the MCBCC while directly under the Marion County Administration oversight.  The Administration has nothing to oversee, because the MCBCC is directly contacted by the TDC and the Administration has no oversight over the TDC.  If you are confused that is because this government program is set up to avoid detection and oversight.  For 6 years this TDC/VCB has cruised under the radar of accountability.  In 2008 the Clerk of the Court David Ellespermann conducted an audit of the TDC and VBC because of fraud and confusion in TDC's around the state.  None are as confusing as Marion County.  Even the name of these TDC/VCB organizations have been changed from Marion County to Ocala.  As a result, Ocala now has the only TDC and VBC along with $1,000,000 per year.

The TDC that is not accountable to Marion County Administration code, while they claimed to have followed all Marion County laws anyway in order to appear to be in compliance with Marion County Policy 14.01 1-6 and in compliance with 14.02 to escape the requirements of 14.01.

If you are confused join the crowd.  Writing an expose on this dysfunction is difficult at best.  Just try to explain what is happening with our $1,000,000 annually and you will see why you can't trust government.  Our Marion County Chairman Stan McClain may have to start over with a new TDC and VCB.

 

Marion County Code 14.01  Ensures that all job opportunities are equally available to all applicants and employees regardless of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, or disability, except when the disability is job related and cannot be reasonably accommodated.

Don't you believe it!

Learn how easy it is to break the Marion County Code.

Step 1.  Employee Matt Dunn hears from his boss Executive Director Ann Sternall that she is about to retire but hasn't announced the news.  Problem insider information.

Step 2. Ann and Matt are Marion County employees that operate outside the oversight of the Marion County Administration under the direction of a the TDC of Ocala.  The TDC is the Tourism Development Board that reports directly to the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.  Matt applied for the Ocala Tourist & Convention Bureau Executive Director position and was allowed special status by the TDC that prohibited others from even applying for the position.

The VCB employee could not do that but the TDC could and did.  Even though the special exemption would require the position to be vacant per 14.03 the position was "Deemed Vacant" because it was to become vacant in the future.

Even though the County Administrator would have to specifically approve the wave the rights of others to apply for the position, It was "Deemed Waved" by County Administrator Lee Niblock because he had approved the entire budget earlier in the year and the Executive Position was in the general Budget.  Additionally, Dr Niblock does not have oversight over the TDC and the request was made by the Chairman of the TDC under ummunity from the County Policy.

All applicants were told that they could not apply for the position of Executive Director of the VCB, except for Mr. Matt Dunn.  Concerns were voiced by the Marion County Tourist Director both verbal and written but the concerns were ignored.

 

 

 

 

  

 

Unwilling to see Marion County tourism suffer from lack of funds, The Marion County Visitor and Convention Bureau is thriving with private funding.

TDC Marion Director Don Browning recently announced a greater than 2:1 web site presence over the Ocala TDC.  

Citizens are asking for an audit of Ocala TDC's use of Marion County TDC funds.  Success by the Marion County TDC is making the Ocala effort pretty much irrelevant. 

County Taxes have been diverted to the  Ocala Visitor and Convention Bureau stunting the Marion County tourism message going out to the world.

Per the Tourist Tax Ordinance Millions of Marion County tourist development funds have been used to promote Ocala.  

Everything changed when County Elected Officials were asked to follow the Florida Statute 125.0104 and promote Marion County. 

The Ocala TDC Group is not happy that they will have to go to the voters to create a sub district of Ocala inside Marion County. 

 

Citizens ask the following to apply to Ocala for funding through an Ocala Sub District in Marion County allowed  under FS 125.0104

My Ocala Vacation

Ocala Sports Events

Ocala Golf Vacations

Ocala Sports Commission

Ocala Visitors & Convention Bureau 

 

Per Title XI Part 1
FS 125.0104  3 (N) 2 (4) c and (4)e.
The TDC must be named for the County Taxed.  
Per FS 125.0104 4 c -  the plan must be put forward prior to the enactment of the Ordinance and the plan was the Marion County Tourist Development plan.  There was no mention of Ocala as the plan or as a sub district.
 
Per 
Per FS 125.0104 4 e -
 the TDC is to be named after the county taxed in this case Marion County.
    
So that the law is upheld, The TDC Marion Tourism Committee will do business as the Marion Tourism Council until the Tax Funded Board returns to the name Marion County.  Currently the TDC board logo, business cards, emails, Web Sites and corespondence of all types are named Ocala or Ocala Marion Ocala Sports, or Ocala Visitor and Convention Bureau.
 
 
 
All of Central Florida looks to The Villages to help lead the way to Economic Recovery 
 
Yvette Gibbs- Mitchel promotes anti-bullying campaign to help Marion County youth learn healthy relationship lessons as anti-bullying program grows with success. 
 
Marion County jumps to the Economic Forefront with The Villages Success.
Governor Rick Scott selects Marion County's own Tri-County Partners to sign Jobs Budget.  
TDC Marion and EDC Marion Director Don Browning is on hand for historic event.
Marion County is in the lead as an important part of Central Florida Villages success.
Senator Alan Hays, and Representatives Dennis Baxley and Marlene O'Toole invite Governor Scott to the Villages.
 

Ocala Visitors Bureau and the rest of Marion County compete for control of Marion County Promotion.  This week saw considerable activity in the area of the economically successful Villages and struggling Ocala.  Herman Cain kicked off the week in the Marion County Villages followed by the Governor Selecting the Villages to sign his Jobs Budget and finally Marion County Board Chairman dedicated the Hope Park boat ramp on Lake Weir.

 

TDC of Marion County 

 World rescue effort in Tuscaloosa Alabama recognizes Marion County Florida's efforts to reach out to help Florida's neighbors in need.

TDC Marion steps up to help as board member Don Browning helps link the Marion County Sheriff's Office and Lake Weir Kiwanis Club.

Having gained experience with the award winning Katrina Hurricane relief effort the Teddy Bear Express Team came through again.  

Marion County Kiwanis in Weirsdale reaches out to Tornado Victims in Tuscaloosa Alabama.

Donors from all across Marion County come together. 

Marion County Sheriff creates connection in Alabama.  Marion County Visitors get paid back. 

Marion County Tourism Council Sponsors include:

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.

Expert 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.  

 

Lack 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.  

 

Florida Statute 125 experts declare Ocala Tourism a Sub District that must be authorized by the Marion County Voters.

Ocala interest promise that the current Logo is as much recognition as Marion County deserves because Ocala is Marion County on most maps.

"Trust Us" the Ocala Tourist Bureau Board to know what is best for those who don't live in Ocala.  Once 60% of Marion County population, now Ocala is about 18% and falling.

Pro Bono Tourism Development Committee Experts point out that the Ocala/Marion Board of County Commissioners Visitor & Convention Bureau must look to Ocala Elected Officials for funding

if they want to continue to represent Ocala.

OcalaTourism.jpg

FS 125.0104 requires Ocala to have Sub District .
1tourismphoto.jpg
Marion County TDC is raising concerns about branding Marion County Florida.

A 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.  
 
There 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 

 
Pleased 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)
http://www.marioncountyclerk.org/public/_files/200801TDCReportpublished.pdf

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 Departments.


  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.
 
Taken 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.

There are 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.
 conducted 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 within.
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.

 Citizens encourage Marion County Board of County Commissioners Sub-District Ocala, doing business as Ocala Visitors Bureau to gain authority under FS 125.0104.  A Sub-District such as Ocala may collect and disperse tourist development funds if authorized per FS 125,0104 sect. 4 (e).  Currently Marion County is the only authorized district. 
 
Just in:  Marion County TDC Marion Directors ask Commissioners to table the appointment of a Executive Director for the Ocala Tourism Bureau.  The authorized Marion County Tourism District can operate under the County Administrator and direct the considerable administration funds toward the promotion of visitors and tourism in Marion County.
 
If there is enough interest, a sub-district may be sent to the voters for approval.   Currently a sub-district of Ocala is operating the Ocala Visitors & Convention Bureau.   Marion County is served by the Marion County Tourism Bureau with no funding from the Ocala/Marion County Board of County Commissioners.
 
A Blue Ribbon Tourism Committee points out that with only 3 employees and vast unemployment in Marion County the tax money for an Executive Director could me better spent.  For example, Marion County Parks is already staffed and could better serve as the executive director conduit to county administration.  Every time we undertake an effort we seem to need to spend $100,000 for an executive director.  Tourism is a new tax effort and has only 3 employees.  We don't need another Executive director.  The current salary is $77,000 plus much more in benefits.  Actual cost to the taxpayers is likely over $105,000.
 
If Ocala Visitor Bureau is to receive 25% of the tax revenue and Marion County Visitor Bureau is to receive 75% of tax funds Ocala may not be able to afford to spend $75,000 on a supervisor of three people.
 
 
 
Currently doing business as the Ocala Tourism and Convention Bureau Marion County Tourism Development Council asks County Commissioner Charlie Stone to consider funding Marion County TDC
 
Currently 100% of Tourism Development Funding is going to the Ocala Visitor Bureau.
 
That likely will change because Marion County Citizens are asking that a portion of the tax revenue used to promote Ocala Tourism.
 
Voter Leverage will likely win the day as Ocala, once 60% of Marion County's population is now less than 19%.
  
 
Marion County Citizens Group has asked for a share of the Branding Tax money to promote and brand the Magnificent Venue known as Marion County.
 
They point out that Marion County has Silver and Rainbow Springs, hundreds of Horse Farms, Major Lakes, Rivers, and the Cross Florida Trail System to name a few 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. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 Links presented by EDC Marion County.

Central Florida Nature photography is spread out under the heavens accessable from Nearby Space Florida and NASA.

See NASA images through linked Space Telescopes now combining to present an even more exciting look at the heavens.  See the 

Universe from

 

Central Florida's NASA

 and Space Florida

 

Space Florida is a window into the future.
galaxy-hubble-571x580.jpg
NASA and Space Florida link the Viva Florida Celebration from Central Florida.

Juliette Falls is the Premier Visitor's Treasure Award® Winner 2011.  TDC Marion

Hole 1 Juliette Falls Dunnelion Florida
Hole_1_sm.jpg
Call for Golf Specials like Free Burger & Draft Beer in Groups of 16.

Marion County Citizens ask for the primary share of the Marion County Tax Funding currently going to the Ocala Visitor Center Sub-District.
 
Interest 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.
 
Citizens ask for 25 % of Marion County tax dollars to go to Ocala, or the establishment of an authorized Sub-District. The remaining 75% of the Tourism Tax Base should reflect the promotion of Marion County citizens.
 
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 Development District.
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. 

tourismphoto.JPG

Come Fly with me, to Adventure TDC Marion
Heron1.003.jpg
Eco Art Capital of the WorldŽ, Marion Tourism Council.

Governor Rick Scott Welcomes Visitors!
_govDSC9750.jpg
Come experience Marion County Florida

Powered by Discovermarioncounty.com