Friday, September 9, 2011

I Smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Some of you will recognize the title of this post. It's the name of a Travis Tritt song.

Hopefully, you've seen this. If not, go read it now. I'll wait.

OK, ready? And for those of you who didn't read it after all, I'll sum up events. Travis Tritt was scheduled to perform a concert in Joplin this Sunday (the tenth anniversary of 9/11), partially as a morale booster for tornado victims, and the concert was to be "free." I say "free" because, let's face it, nothing's free. Everything has a cost, especially throwing a concert for a country music superstar.

Mr. Tritt just happened to find out where that money's coming from: donations to help with Tornado Relief efforts. And he did what any honorable person would've done: he backed out. Good for him.

Bad for whoever the "City Official" is that offered this money for Tritt to come in the first place.

I understand that there was the hope/expectation that through sponsorships, the cost of bringing Tritt to town would've balanced out. But as he said himself, that "hope" isn't good enough, especially to those who lost their homes/loved ones in the storm.

I've only been in Joplin 5 months or so, and I'm ready to come down on someone like a Georgia thunderstorm. I can't IMAGINE how angry longtime Joplin residents must be right about now.

Let's face facts: I'm a reporter, so it's a duty of mine to be as clear and unbiased as I possibly can. It also behooves me to try and keep up a friendly rapport with officials. However, I'm also a citizen of Joplin, and I wish to express the following as a member of the public:

I'm outraged. 

Donations to tornado victims are supposed to go to -- wait for it -- TORNADO VICTIMS. Not for entertainment. Necessities. Food. Clothing. Shelter. Things that, almost four months later, people are still doing without.

Would a concert have been nice? Of course. I planned on taking my wife to it. But not under these circumstances. This is at best a mistake that misuses these funds and at worst flat-out disrespectful to the survivors of the May 22nd EF-5.

Now, the City has responded to this whole mess: “Money from Community Fdn (Foundation) of the Ozarks was used as investment & necessary to secure entertainment for the event. Community members have been seeking sponsorships & it’s anticipated these donations will cover 100% of concert cost. In addition, Text to Give program will be associated with event and proceeds will go directly to the Fdn (Foundation). This event is meant to bring community together as a positive force in moving forward. Our efforts remain solidly focused on rebuilding this community and helping our citizens.”

While I get what they're saying, I still don't think that makes it right. Secure the money BEFORE spending donated dollars, and you won't have this kind of problem.

There are even some criticizing Tritt for making this call, saying if he were a "Real American" he'd come and do it for free regardless. I've got news for those people: a REAL American does things legit. They don't participate in things they don't believe in, and don't take advantage of others. Travis Tritt is a REAL American, and I applaud his showcase of morality and wisdom in an age where many performers and "artists" would just turn a blind eye to it.

If you want to be angry, be angry at whoever made the call to try and pay for the event using DONATED FUNDS.

God knows I am.

**EDIT** The City of Joplin's Facebook page is ON FIRE right now with upset people.

**EDIT 2: THE SEQUEL** The City's announced that while they did request a loan from the fund, they already had $85,000 to put back into it. Which makes me wonder why they didn't just plan on using that money and not even bother with the loan.

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