Guest Column: Harvest of Hope Misrepresentations

I was challenged by a reader to point to the misrepresentations made in the FY 2010 Grant Application made by Harvest of Hope Foundation.

The issue is whether or not, there were material misrepresentations in the application.

Here is the evidence.

A copy of the relevant pages of the FY 2010 application filed with the St. Johns Cultural Council and the Tourist Development Council in seeking the grant for the 2010 Harvest of Hope Festival.

On page 4, a page that starts with “Event Narrative” at the top, they quote the notable statistics from the past years event, including:
– “Attendance over the 3 day weekend was over 17,000″
– “over 3500 attendees camped on the fairgrounds new camping area”

Also included in that download, is a copy of the 2009 closing statement prepared by St. Johns County. The analysis included a breakdown of all ticket sales.

– “Total tickets sold: 6,754″
– “3 Day Pass: 4,262″
– “1 Day Pass: 1,596″

No, the breakout figures do not add up. There is no way you get to 17,000 without double counting people who had purchased tickets unless your security was so bad that you allowed over 10,000 people to enter without purchasing a ticket.

Which is it?

The latter explanation would explain the rather larger financial losses.

Attendance is a material fact that goes to the potential success or failure of the previous event.

One has to question why the St. Johns Cultural Council did not discover the discrepancy and one has to wonder why no member of the Tourist Development Council raised the question.

The figures were all embodied in the Closing statement. The Foundation repeats the 17,000 figure twice in their application.

Do they deny including it?
Do they claim they were unaware of the official ticket counts listed in the Closing Statement?
Were there other tickets sold outside official channels?
How many were printed?

All of these questions lead to some disturbing conclusions. What is clear and unequivocal though is that as an organization seeking public funding, the Harvest of Hope Foundation had a duty to be accurate and truthful in the application. They failed on one or both points in this case.

In seeking the direct award of taxpayer funds, there is a fiduciary duty that falls on all parties involved. Apparently, there is a very cavalier attitude towards this fact on the part of the St. Johns County Special Events Division, the St. Johns Cultural Council, the Tourist Development Council, and, in this case, the Harvest of Hope Foundation.

We expect competence in the management of taxpayer resources. We demand, and will not accept less than, total transparency and honesty in dealings revolving around the expenditure of taxpayer funds.

Randy Covington
St. Johns, FL
Conservative Research Network

Randy Covington is the leader of Conservative Research Network. Covington focuses on commentary and articles on local, state and federal government issues revolving around government waste, policy and function. The organization is comprised of conservatives focused on returning conservative principles to the Republican Party, accountability to government and power reserved under the Constitution of the United States to the people. The ideas expressed are those of the writer and are independent of those of Historic City News.

Share your thoughts with our readers >>