“It went good,” the Chairman of the Tourist Development Council said Wednesday afternoon.
This week’s TDC meeting was held in order to address the revelation that McKinnon and others had been meeting extracurricularly to discuss the possibility of moving tourism marketing responsibilities — and the related bed-tax money — away from the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. People were starting to talk about Sunshine Law violations. The Chamber’s tourism guru, Ed Schroeder, recently stepped down over the matter and some were suggesting the TDC chairman do the same.
But McKinnon floated over the meeting, like a ballet dancer on broken glass. There were no apologies. To the contrary, he said the discussions had been fruitful — said all the relevant parties were privy — and would eventually walked away with a study to further explore the possibility of striking out independently.
“You know, there was a lot of good people doing a lot of good work,” McKinnon summed up the total of the controversy Wednesday.
The commotion has caused a considerable stir in the community. Pensacola News Journal’s editorial board called for McKinnon’s head. Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce Chairman George Hawthorne cried “tourism coup.”
But the TDC board didn’t seem to care Tuesday. After all, the area had just seen one of it’s better tourism seasons. Mostly, they gave McKinnon a big thumbs-up, and lamented the loss of Schroeder.
McKinnon, too, misses Ed.
“From a TDC standpoint, Ed has done more for our tourism community than anyone else in our history,” he said.
The TDC Chairman also would not rule out bringing Schroeder back into the picture at some point. A guy like that might come in especially handy if the big split is realized.
“I would hope he would have an opportunity,” McKinnon said, of Schroeder’s possible involvement down the road. “But who knows how that would play out.”
The only guy who wasn’t happy to see McKinnon at this week’s TDC meeting was Larry Johnson. The board member — who also sits on the Pensacola City Council — said he thought the Chairman should walk away. He threatened to do so himself when McKinnon wouldn’t budge.
The TDC Chairman said Wednesday he could “work with anybody” in the mission of tourism.
“That kind of stuff doesn’t matter to me,” McKinnon said of Johnson’s position.