On July 21, 2016, I received the following email from Amanda Airth of the Geneva Business Improvement District:
Please see the attached letter from John and myself.
Amanda C. Airth
The full text of the attached letter is posted below, followed by my response.
If you would like to see the original letter, click the image below.
Please accept my late acknowledgement of your recent critique and comments on social networking concerning the Geneva Business Improvement District. I truly confess I am not a user or fan of social media. A lifetime of dealing in both the private and public sector, I have found one-on-one to be a great way to exchange ideas and limitations, and to work together for results and understanding.
I am always, as is my replacement Amanda, open to doing what is good for the District, City and our merchants and patrons.
We have a one-word motto to reasonable and doable requests here at the Geneva BID. That word is “yes”.
In my seven years at the Geneva Business Improvement District, when contacted for assistance or guidance, it has been my duty to meet at any time convenient for the requestor. That literally is 24/7. You will find Amanda shares that obligation and attitude, as well.
We look forward to hearing from you soon and at your convenience.
John T. Hicks
Executive Director, Geneva BID
Incoming Executive Director, Geneva BID
I appreciate your acknowledgment of my online series of articles regarding the BID. I hope that you have read all of the installments and will continue to do so.
While I recognize your lack of enthusiasm for social media, it has become an essential part of our global culture over the course of the last decade. Additionally, my series of well-researched, fact-driven articles would be more accurately defined as “citizen journalism,” rather than “comments on social networking.”
I agree that face-to-face communication is an effective way to gain understanding. However, the articles I am writing are not about me and the BID. They are about the people of Geneva and the BID, and I have chosen to explore this relationship in a public forum. To attend a closed-door meeting with you and Amanda at this point would run counter to my aim of prompting a comprehensive and transparent examination of the BID’s practices.
Still, I would be more than happy to meet with you if the public is also invited. I would insist that the meeting be recorded on video and audio and made available to those unable to attend. In addition, I would ask that specific documentation relating to the BID’s services, finances and practices be made available for review during the meeting.
While you maintain that you are always willing and available to meet with the public, numerous citizens have told me that when they’ve brought concerns to you or to BID Board members, the response has been condescension, obfuscation, dismissal, or they have simply been ignored. This glaring contradiction implies a distressing disconnect between the BID and the people it purports to serve.
In response to this crisis of trust, you continue to state that the BID’s door is always open while offering platitudes about your sense of duty and the BID’s can-do attitude. You have placed the responsibility for repairing this damaged relationship onto the public’s shoulders by waiting for them to reach out to you. I have raised pertinent and specific questions about the BID, and you’ve responded by providing no answers to these questions, and only an invitation to meet privately.
Your letter further confirms my belief that the best possible scenario for the citizens of Geneva and the future of our beautiful and vibrant downtown is for the City of Geneva to permanently cut ties with the BID.
I look forward to hearing from you soon and at your convenience.
Editor, Geneva Believer