THE AIR THAT WE BREATHE…
Spyro (pronounced “Speedo”) Condos, the owner and operator of the Harborside Grill on Wrigley across from the Riviera Pier Complex, blew into the Business Improvement District board of directors like a breath of fresh air, delivered by a blow torch. Speedo was one of the founding members of the BID and had everything to do with creating the ordinance that formed it, and now Charlene Klein, Lake Geneva’s quietly wise new mayor, has inserted Speedo back into the BID board. Two BID board members instantly resigned upon hearing of Speedo’s appointment and a third is quitting as this is written. The remaining members voted to appoint Speedo as Chairman of that board. Speedo went immediately to work in order to restart Octoberfest, another Lake Geneva celebration activity he helped create years ago.
What he found out was that Roger Wolfe, a member of the board, was likely in error when he told the Lake Geneva Regional News in an interview that the event was canceled because of the virus. No, Speedo thinks it was canceled because the BID has run out of money for the year. With a budget of about two hundred and thirty thousand dollars each year, assessed to the downtown area businesses, the BID supports many events in and around the Lake Geneva community.
What happened to this year’s money?
How about the stupefying fact that almost a hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) were paid out to the Treasure Hut in Delavan! Say what? For flowers. Those nice flowers at most downtown intersections, swinging in the wind in their beauty have come at a huge price. The BID had a wonderful executive director who offered to work for half pay when she found out the BID was out of money. She was being paid $60,000.00 a year, by the way, which seems really strange too, when the entire budget of the organization is only a couple of hundred thousand dollars. That she was the daughter-in-law of the mayor at the time might have had something to do with the size of that salary.
Why were no bids put out for this “flower job” affair? Another great question.
Speedo Condos is kicking butts and taking names, as he reviews five years’ worth of BID budgets, trying to get to the bottom of what has happened, and then rebuild the operation from the ruins of its tattered foundations. Speedo’s job will not be easy. His first job might be to find out just what board member is close friends with the owners of the Treasure Hut. His second job will no doubt entail raising money. The virus, and the nation’s reaction to it, has bitten hard into all business revenues and budgets. The BID is not in an enviable position to expecting full payment of existing assessments, much less any increase to those assessments to cover losses. Is there any wonder why two board members quit? The mayor, Charlene Klein, must now appoint two business owners or operators to replace those members vacating the positions. What business owners will step up and then step right into that muddy morass that’s been left for them to clean up? Through masks, from social distances close and far, Lake Geneva’s businessmen and women must be able to breathe clean fresh air, the air that has been cleared of every element of favoritism, corruption, and downright inattentive ignorance.
Speedo is just the man to lead this very important part of the downtown business community. That community is nothing more or less than the vital heartbeat of what Lake Geneva is all about when combined with the wonder of Geneva Lake, and the resorts and other communities that have been established around it. There has been talk on the board (Kevin) of having the BID do only flowers and decorations downtown, and not events that bring in potential customers for downtown businesses. That idea was tabled. No further discussion there. The BID is a wonderful creation and it should get through this crisis.