WTS BUSTED AGAIN OVER TAX SUBSIDIES FOR CONVENTION
I am pulling this out of the "subject" thread so more folks can see:
BIG THANKS to those activists who worked behind the scenes to get this story published.
This is not one of the locations that I'm personally involved with, but one where others of like mind took the bull by the horns. However, without saying too much to alert the WTS where the next fire will erupt, there hopefully will be more News Articles like this one in the upcoming months. There are still several potential scandal locations which noone that I am aware are working on, so please continue to contact the media and local government officials in ALL cities where the WTS has been holding conventions for years.
Kennewick, Richland subsidies for church event raises questions
This story was published 1/4/2002
By John Trumbo
Herald staff writer
Kennewick and Richland have agreed to chip in $6,000 each to help subsidize the Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower convention scheduled this summer.
The $12,000 will help pay for renting the Tri-Cities Coliseum, which Kennewick owns.
The money is coming from the cities' 2002 hotel-motel lodging tax fund. Half of the first 2 percent of the tax from each city goes to the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, and the rest is divvied out as each city desires.
The Kennewick and Richland councils approved giving motel-hotel tax money to the Tri-Cities Hotel and Motel Association.
Each council was told by staff that the money would be "solely for the purpose of paying all or any part of the cost of tourism promotion, acquisition of tourism-related facilities, or operation of tourism-related facilities," activities allowed under state law.
Using the money to subsidize the coliseum rent is questionable, said Keith Lougheed, a specialist in the state auditor's office on lodging tax use.
"It doesn't sound right," Lougheed said. But unless someone from one of the cities complains to the auditor, it's unlikely the state will investigate, he said.
"Generally we don't interfere. We do audits (after the fact)," he added. "This is one I would pass by the attorney general."
Kennewick Councilman James Hempstead, chairman of his city's Local Tax Fund Advisory Committee, said he thought the $6,000 donation was for tourism promotion of the Watchtower events. This is the 10th year the convention is coming to the coliseum.
Association President Ginny Hill said Tri-City hotels and motels have been chipping in money to help pay the coliseum rent for the Watchtower convention for nine years. This is the first time the association has received a share of the cities' lodging tax money to subsidize the rent, she said.
This year, the difference between the rent due and what the Jehovah's Witnesses can pay is $17,500.
With $6,000 each from Richland and Kennewick, motel association members have to come up with the remaining $5,500, Hill said.
Tom Walker, whose term on the Kennewick council expired Dec. 31, said he, too, understood that the money was "specifically for promotion or advertising" of the Watchtower event, but he didn't know exactly how the association was going to spend it.
Other council members in Kennewick thought the same. Mayor Jim Beaver could not be reached for comment on the issue.
But Robert Noland, Kennewick's chief financial officer, said he was aware the money was "going to the coliseum to help pay for the rent," and he believes it is a proper use of the tax money.
"It can be argued that it is going for tourism," Noland said.
Although Kennewick could have discounted the rent for the convention and preserved the lodging tax money for other uses, Noland said the way it is being done benefits the bottom line on the coliseum, which has struggled to operate in the black. "We're trying to run the coliseum as a business," he said.
Promotions Management Inc., which oversees the coliseum for the city, reported just breaking out of red ink in 2001, when it was hoped to have at least $226,000 in profits.
Richland Councilwoman Rita Mazur said giving the lodging tax money to help with the coliseum rent may appear to be a subsidy for Kennewick's coliseum, but it's well worth it.
"Our (Richland's) hotel-motel tax committee agreed to it," she said, noting the convention is expected to generate 29,000 visitors over five weekends and bring $9.5 million to the Tri-Cities.
Richland council members were advised by a staff memo that the $6,000 donation would "complete the bid packet" and help "retain the convention in the Tri-Cities and expand the event to five weeks in 2002."
This is rediculous and abhorant. I would be PISSED if I was a land-owner in those cities and MY tax dollars were funding a religous event. And for hotels and motels to have to PAY to have JWs come in is lower than low. I wish all the cities country wide would tell the WTBTS to fuck off. I wonder if 'new light' would then be announced that we no longer need conventions ...
And don't you know the 'brothers' will STILL be doing the typical Sunday AM bitch and moan session about the 'shortfall' of donations to 'cover the expenses'. What a crock of shit!
These things are popping up everywhere. Is it because the WTBTS just started trying this stuff, or is it the public becoming less tolerant of it?
I remember William Schnell warning in his book in 1957 about the book sales events that, in reality, were what the conventions were.
In 1975 a crack team of publishers was sentenced to death by a judicial commiteee. They promptly escaped from the cult and now live life on the run. If you have a problem ... and if you can find them ... maybe you can contact the A--postate Team"
I wonder if the people that have approved this realizes that the thousands of Witnesses that come to the conventions have been encouraged to NOT patronize local restuarants, etc., but to bring their own food in order to spend more time with the brothers and sisters. They have even shortend lunch breaks over the years in order to 'encourage' the brothers to bring lunch so they don't have to rush in and out to get lunch somewhere else.
God forbid they run into an apostate while crossing the street to get a hot dog. If I were a local business owner I would have a FIT. I know up here in New England there was a drastic decrease of vendors outside the convention centers when this change occurred.
What you don't realize is that JWs party big time after the conventions each day. The single ones get together in large groups and go out to eat at the posher restaurants. They go to the movies. The parents leave their children at the hotels unattended (or maybe one token teenager to watch them) and go out to eat and drink (alcohol). Some buy tons of alcohol and party in their rooms after going out to eat. The maids in these hotels could tell you stories.
So JWs spend money in these towns. Just not at lunch. Of course, the money from lunch always went to the WTS not to the facility or the restaurants. Not officially anyway. I heard elders used to mark down the names of people and their congregations as they walked across the street to eat at Burger King.
It never stopped me to go out and eat. I preferred to go to the local restaurant and have a nice quiet relaxing lunch then stay in the madhouse convention. I know I was not the only one that did that to because I would see other JW's there to. I remember one time when one brother made a comment about me going out to eat and I just asked him to show me where it says that in the bible. I was always one that if I was told not to do it I would do it anyway...