A sweetheart deal for new ECPAC operator
Union Tribune (2005-11-17) Gail Nye
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It should not be surprising to anyone who attended the Nov. 8 El Cajon City Council meeting that El Cajon's Arts and Culture Commission was dissolved. The city must be scrambling for money to fund the contract it bestowed upon Christian Community Theater to manage the East County Performing Arts Center.
Paul Russell of CCT played the council like a violin. Not only is he to receive $450,000 in outright funding, but everyone apparently "forgot" that CCT owes thousands for its 2005 Traditions of Christmas show. The organization owes $77,000, according to an ex-ECPAC staffer. It appears they were so sure of getting the contract, that they could get away with not paying the city, and just pay themselves upon taking over.
Russell's crocodile tears also got the city to fork over $100,000 for capital improvements and for the city to contribute toward utilities. The best part? The city wanted to reinstate $1 of the $2 per seat renovation fee that it used to receive; $150,000 annually. Russell was able to whittle even that $1 down to a formula that appears to yield about $40,000. I hope nothing big breaks.
All of this money, and the taxpayers don't even get to enjoy headliner acts. CCT will not book them unless someone else pays. CCT does not want to take any "business risk."
The city would have been better off continuing to employ its experienced staff to run ECPAC. Then they might have had the $42,250 to fund the Arts and Culture Commission.