Cape May Common Sense Uncommon

$62,000.00 dollars seems like a lot to spend for one concert. Yet that’s the amount Cape May City Council approved yesterday for an agreement between Encore Services, Inc. and the Philly POPS and the City of Cape May.

The Council approved that exorbitant fee as they dealt with a cloud of clamor about legal fees set aside for employees of the City as a result of the ongoing police chief controversy. The resolution to approve the $62,000 only became public at the request of a resident during public comments at Tuesday’s work session. As someone asked at a previous Council meeting: “where’s the common sense?”

Pulling off a production of the Philly POPS  doesn’t end with a $62,000 artist fee. Even if the audience sells out the 800 seat capacity of Convention Hall  at $65.00  a ticket (a big if), the event still falls $10,000 short of breaking even. That does not include a piano rental and specific sound equipment requests that the Philly POPs makes. Labor, electrical, lighting and food for performers and soon you are potentially another $20,000 in production costs.  Again where’s the common sense?

I’m quite the cheerleader when it comes to promoting Cape May and all she has to offer. I understand the business of a loss leader when it has tangential benefits, such as press coverage etc. Events like Movies on the Beach, offered by the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Cape May add value to the vacationers experience while they are here.

Paying an artist $62,000.00 dollars on an inevitably full weekend does not do the same thing in my opinion. God bless Mayor Mahaney, Solicitor Monzo and Council woman Swain, for what the Mayor described as substantial donations to help underwrite the event.

At the previous Council Meeting (overshadowed by the demotion of Police Chief Robert Sheehan) this same council approved a budget that reduced the Fire Department payroll by $70,000. At any moment in Cape May there are never more than 4 paid Fireman /EMT’s on duty. Yes, it is the off season and they are backed up by Volunteers to a degree, but Council continues to ignore the plea of the residents to replace the payroll into the budget.

In a previous blog post I talked about the burden on tourists. By burden, I was referring to the taxation the tourists contribute to Cape May. A taxation without representation if you will, similar to the second homeowner in Cape May who pays taxes yet cannot vote locally. The tourist-paid taxes are the money supply for the Tourism Utility. The Tourism Utility provides the funds to operate and hire the acts that come to Convention Hall here in Cape May. The average tourist is not likely to shell out $65 bucks on vacation to see someone they can see back home for half the price or less. So where’s the common sense?

CookeCapeMayPhillyPopsIf our Tourism Utility had a marketing plan that included destination marketing with the supposed surplus that exists, I probably would not be so upset by the concert proposal. I  supported the Philly POPs the first time around. According to the resolution, the City has thirty days from yesterday to execute the contract with Encore Services. Perhaps within that thirty days, some common sense will settle in.

I’m probably not alone in my thinking on this topic. What say you?


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  1. Ben Miller
    April 8, 2015 / 3:53 pm

    The Philly Pops concerts have always been money-losers for Cape May. That first concert with Peter Nero, which was originally billed as a fundraiser, saw the hall only half full. Even with scores of “VIP tickets” the city sold for up to $1,000 a piece and the business owners donating to the concert, the City of Cape May still lost $14,500 on that “fundraiser.”

  2. June Arnold
    April 8, 2015 / 4:39 pm

    I for one would not buy a ticket for something that can be seen on TV. I have the best seat in the house with no heads higher than mine to look around. Instead of blowing that kind of money on this event it should be put back into the fire department. If I was a resident of Cape May instead of a steady visitor I would be banging on doors to sign petitions to recall the whole lot, except Shane Meier.(spelling?) He is the one who made the motion to return the money to the fire department and was voted down by the mayor and his cronies. I am wondering about my safety as a visitor when I come down, should I be packing turn out gear, fire extinguishers, a major first aid kit? When you mess with human lives it becomes criminal.

  3. Amy Keene
    April 8, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    I say someone should notify the Philly Pops and let them know that since our Fire Department is understaffed and God forbid a major fire were to happen, that they may be in jeopardy as the rest of us are. I wonder if they knew these funds were going to them instead of our FD, would they still want to come? I think I will contact them and ask. This is outrageous and being at the Council meeting yesterday confirmed for me that most of Council still will not listen to their voters. Why????

  4. Mike Rinn
    April 8, 2015 / 8:41 pm

    I have been coming to Cape May since the early 80s, visiting several times a year. I been following what’s been going on. $62k is too much for a concert. I support and travel to many of the events in Cape May. But a $65.00 Pops concert ticket isn’t one of them. If my hometown would of scheduled this concert after a Fire Department budget cut, many of us would be pounding on the council doors.

  5. Ann Keen
    April 8, 2015 / 9:27 pm

    Everything about the “new” convention center has been wrong from day1…the design, the insurance issue, the tearing down of the solarium and the concert choices. Can’t wait for a new administration!

  6. Hugh Murray
    April 10, 2015 / 8:29 am

    Well I hope they haven’t booked a circus because this council is already filling that act. John you’re assessment is right on. But seeing this council in action lately they obviously lack the common sense you allude to. Demoting a police chief because of someone’s agenda and removing a paid firefighter from the budget for “budgetary reasons” make sense?? If they follow through on this concert (and it will surely lose money) I think it’s time for the citizens of Cape May to have the council members all evaluated for their decision making! A good psychologist will probably find they have “no sense” let alone any common sense.