An offer you can#039;t refuse #110; May 3, 2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

We thought it important today to report on the event at the hotel Friday night. Billed as the "Mayor's Ball," it was attended by about 250 people, sources tell us n mostly city officials and guests — and included food, drinks and dancing.

Normally such affairs are covered by the newspaper. I even received an email from someone yesterday who said people we're grumbling about our lack of coverage. My only defense is that the event was kind of low profile. We did not receive an invitation to it, nor was any press release prepared.

We discussed going to it Friday and taking few photographs, but to me it just felt rude. It would have been like showing up at someone's wedding reception uninvited. Besides, in my own case, I wanted to get home, relax and watch a movie. It had been a long week.

Email newsletter signup

Nonetheless we were curious, as were we assumed others, about how the event was paid for, so we made some phone calls yesterday and came up with the story that's in the paper and on the site today.

It was good that the taxpayers did not have to pony up for it. Nonetheless, I imagine someone with the city had to solicit monetary contributions from TowneBank and Sara Lee to serve as "sponsors" for the event. My question, which did not occur to me until reading the paper this morning, is that if all guests paid their own way and the hotel provided a cash bar, what did the sponsorship cover?

Also, I wonder whether it's a good practice for a government entity to solicit contributions from private companies for private, city soirees. These firms are likely at some point to have some type of business before the city. I'm sure it might have been in the back of their minds that refusing to sponsor could come back to haunt them n it's an offer you can't refuse.

Had they been above board about it, I don't think anyone would have begrudged the city simply funding this event and selling tickets so the public could attend. After all, millions of dollars have been invested in it and its completion is certainly worthy of a celebration of this type.