Greater Chamber: 'Strip club' remark does not reflect El Paso or El Paso Days
by Richard Dayoub
Posted on February 21, 2009
I just completed reading the article by Ben Wright on our recent El Paso Days in Austin. In fairness to Mr. Wright, the bulk of what he wrote was thorough and accurate and provided the reader with a pretty good sense of why we go to so much trouble. However, with just one careless statement at the end, he managed to offend a number of our investors and your readers.
I was prompted to read the piece by our Chairman, David Osborn, who called me to share the disparaging, unnecessary and offensive comments made at the end of the article. It doesn’t really matter that Mr. Wright’s estimate of our costs to host both events, El Paso Days in El Paso and Austin, were not even remotely close to being accurate. While the costs are not for publication, I can tell you that the actual amount is closer to one third of his estimate. I’m not quite sure what kind of journalistic research went into his computations but I would expect some effort on his part to strive for accuracy. This brings me to the “offensive” part of his article. It is the reason our Chairman called me and why I am writing to you now. The following represents the exact wording:
NPT asked one official, ‘who gets the most out of this event, apart from Southwest Airlines?’ He paused for a moment, before informing me -- tongue-in-cheek, surely -- that the strip clubs do quite well too.
The employees and volunteers of the Chamber have worked for six months to coordinate first the visit to El Paso and this week’s trip to Austin. Hundreds of hours were dedicated to coordination of schedules with elected officials in Austin. Not everyone has the opportunity to meet with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House and numerous other very busy elected and agency officials. Every volunteer who came to Austin in support of our efforts did so at the expense of their busy schedules and included our Mayor, members of city council, members of Commissioners’ Court, Dr. de la Rosa, Dr. Natalicio, and dozens of other civic and business leaders. I’m reasonably certain that none of these individuals appreciate the comment made by the anonymous individual or Mr. Wright’s willingness to give the comment validity by printing it.
The reception that we host during each legislative session has come to be known as one of “the” events not to miss. There were four events that same evening but the next day, everyone was talking about El Paso’s with very positive remarks. This is a very good thing. But it is only one element of two full days of carefully coordinated meetings in which we have candid conversations with those who can have a tremendous influence on the decisions that will affect our community. The real importance of this trip fortunately is not lost with such inconsiderate statements.
Our community presents itself in Austin as unified and focused on issues of mutual concern advocating for much needed funding for our community. The people who come with us to Austin do so out of love for their community.
Richard Dayoub is president and CEO of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
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