In 2011 the city paid $250,000 to Mary Sexton, a former employee (tour and travel manager) at the HCVB. The employee alleged she had been fired for reporting MISCONDUCT
Her lawsuit listed claims of financial mismanagement, workplace harassment and sexual bias at the agency. According an article published by the Hannibal Courier-Post, which filed a Sunshine Law request, Sexton received $50,000 for lost wages and benefits, $150,000 for emotional pain and suffering, $49,900 for loss of reputation and $100 for a confidentiality and nondisparagement agreement.
Also, according to the Courier-Post, City Manager Jeff Lagarce would only say, ”I’m not at liberty to (comment) and I prefer not to. It’s a personal matter.” Also included in the lawsuit were tourism board members Jim Behrens, Bob Gilstrap, Beth Knight, Steve Ayers, Jim Coleberd, Melanie Campbell and Steve Terry.See Courier-Post article HERE.
In March of 2011, the city council voted 6-1 to give City Manager Jeff Lagarce oversight of the HCVB. A petition with over 540 signatures, advocated against direct control by the city. It was pointed out to the city council that in the vast majority of communities, Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s were totally separate entities. The argument was made that the city had no managerial experience operating a visitors bureau.See Courier-Post article HERE.
The City of Hannibal was now in the Tourism business. On March 9, 2011, the City Council voted 6-1 to pay for repairs in and around the Molly Brown House. The financial contributions from Hannibal were: $8,900, HCVB budget, Park Department, $400, Street Department $500. Money that could well have been spent improving Hannibal neighborhoods. The Park Board had voted unanimously “to decline the acceptance of Molly Brown Home and property.” The board was overruled.See Courier-Post article HERE. Hannibal was now in the Tourist Business,
and City services and money spent on Tourism took precedence over the rest of Hannibal. Neighborhood decline has greatly accelerated since then.
The good news: Things have never been better for owners of any tourism business.