Ephraim is a small community considered by many tourists to be the half-way point on the thumb of Wisconsin known as Door County. Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor and Fish Creek to the South, Sister Bay, Ellison Bay and Gills Rock to the North. It is the home to the iconic Wilson's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor (pictured) where, for over a century, tourists have enjoyed ice cream and hot dogs.
As Door County evolved from the sleepy, rural "Cape Cod of the Midwest" of the '60s and '70s into a far hipper and more sophisticated destination for urbanites from Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, Ephraim has held firm to being a dry town. If it was good enough for the Norwegians who settled here in the 1850's, it's good enough for today, some townsfolk say.
Others fear that, if alcohol is permitted in restaurants, general mayhem will ensue. One such individual recently wrote to the Editor: "Once you open the door to alcohol, there's no stopping it. You can't reverse it."
To be clear...I don't live in Ephraim. And, residents get to choose the laws that will govern themselves and the consumers that choose to visit there.
But, Ephraim? I know you think you're all that (and always have). But, outside of Wilson's...you're not the most interesting destination in Door County. Sturgeon has arts and culture. Egg has retail and a kick-ass grocery. Fish has culinary, retail and nightlife. Bailey's has the Blue Ox and a lighthouse. Sister has retail and lakefront dining. And Ellison? Ellison is just cool.
Ephraim has Wilson's. Period. Oh, and a moderately competent parasailing outfit.
Honestly...Buy a Clue. Vote "yes" to let your community's appeal (and economy) grow. Your peer communities certainly don't seem to have an alcohol problem.
Neither will you.
And, I might just reconsider my long-standing disinterest in your town...in a destination I absolutely love.
Which, most consumers would say, is all well and good. But, property taxes on hotels are typically levied on the value of the land on which they sit. When a hotel starts to become less profitable, the land isn't worth as much. If the land isn't worth as much, the City can't extract the same level of taxes from the owner of said hotel.
Which leaves a budget hole in the City Budget and the City Council with two choices. Cut the services upon which we have come to rely...or raise everybody's taxes.
The online play called OZY did a piece last week that should remind those of us old enough to remember that the Justin Bieber phenomenon did have a pre-cursor from our era: Bobby Sherman.
Both enjoyed screaming, adoring, mesmerized fans that puzzled parents. Both were masters of the "pop hit." Bobby, though, was the more complete package, branching into TV and movies.
The OZ story goes on from there. After researching his role for the TV series "Emergency," Bobby made a sensationally ballsy pivot and became a paramedic. A few years later, he became a Reserve Office with the L.A. Police Department teaching other officers CPR and other life saving techniques. He ultimately achieved the rank of Captain.
He chucked it all, the fame, the money, the lifestyle...and helped people everyday for over 35 years. Which is something I'm pretty sure we won't see from Bieber.
As the business and tech community remembered Intel's Andy Grove this week, Fortune's Alan Murray retold the 1985 story of Andy, working with then CEO Howard Moore (as in Moore's Law). They were hard at work to cram even more memory onto chips, but Japanese competitors were commoditizing the business. Intel profits had gone from $198 million to $2 million in just one year.
Andy asked Gordon, "If we got kicked out and the Board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?" Gordon answered without hesitation, "He would get us out of memories."
Andy replied, "Why shouldn't you and I walk out the door, come back, and do it ourselves?" Which is exactly what they did, shifting Intel's focus to micro-processors and positioning the company for decades of growth.
How often do we all get so mired in our daily struggles that we fail to see that the way to save our businesses could be to abandon what got us here and try something new? As Murray said in his piece, "The mantra? Don't protect the past. Don't let a product define your business. Always disrupt yourself."
When you get a moment this weekend, take time to ask what the person who replaces you would do differently. Try to see the world through their lens. And then, make it so.
I know I'll be asking the Boards and clients with whom I work to ask that question of themselves a lot more often.
Senator Paul Thurmond (yes, the son of Strom) recently let fly with this sad rationale: “I would like to know, as a parent, my child is not spending the entire Christmas break studying for the tests that come after.”
Really? I mean...Really?
You would vote to intentionally forfeit tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues to the State of South Carolina by throttling the August Tourism Season so that your children don't have to try to remember shit they learned during the first semester for two weeks? You would vote to cut into the earnings of young adults trying to pay for a college education or their first car so that your kids can have a stress free holiday?
When will our elected leaders begin to serve the people who elected them, rather than the special interests that pay them?
The back story: Former NY First Lady Libby Pataki was named director of the County CVB late in 2012. While the appointment smacked of politics, there were several that cheered the hire. Fast forward to the present, Libby has resigned her post in the face of withering criticism from The Journal News, which has dug up a trail of mismanagement that, if true, is sensationally appalling.
And, that's where it gets weird. One paper says the CVB is a dysfunctional conduit to funnel money into Libby's pocket. Another paper says the reporter digging up the dirt is too unsophisticated in the workings of non-profit governance to understand what he's seeing.
Regardless, here's what we do know. The CVB and its Foundation's Boards have not met in years. There are Board members who say they haven't attended a Board meeting in years. There are some who are listed as Board members that claim to not know they serve on the Board. And, the list goes on...including a website rife with broken links that, up until the expose began, appeared not to have been updated in over a year.
There's too much he said-she said to really know what went on...and I'll let the Attorney General figure it out.
What I do know is that naming someone to a post as crucial to a region's economy as a DMO just because they have a name in town or are well liked or are perceived to be creative is a ticket to disaster. Running a non-profit organization (DMO or not) is no longer a feel-good proposition. It takes experience and talent in the realm of governance and leadership to traverse the treacherous waters of legal statutes and IRS expectations.
While the courts will ultimately untangle this web, it certainly appears as if Libby Pataki, for all her political and social assets, had no more idea of how to run a DMO than Somali Pirates know how to build a starship.
And, experience trumps personality, nine times out of ten.
When did this get so difficult? Politics used to be the art of compromise. Today, there's no artfulness to it at all.
Maybe this study will knock some sense into a Legislature that, when they're not trying to paint the other side as Beelzubub, is facing a gaping deficit of historic proportions.
Nevermind that employment and earnings in the Leisure and Hospitality sector significantly outpaces all other non-farm sectors. That alone should be enough for the State Legislature to quit screwing around with the State Tourism Office's budget.
But, if they continue to fiddle while the Land of Lincoln burns, they'll forfeit millions of dollars more in tax revenue that are crucial in righting the ship.
Kudos to the ICCVB for taking this step to quantify the impact of our industry. Now, to paraphrase President Whitmore in Independence Day, "let's hope the Legislature and Governor are as smart as we all hope they are."
Music Fridays began as a way for me to take a weekly break from the news of the day and provide a fun launch into the weekend with fave and rare musical finds. Sadly, in 2016, it has become a retrospective of the considerable talent that has departed terra firma. Indeed, only two Friday posts this year haven't been of the RIP variety.