City takes over Independence Day parade
CITY PARADE POLICY
City vehicles and City resources shall not be utilized in parades unless the parade is sponsored by the City. A police escort may be provided to parades that impact vehicle and public safety at the discretion of the Chief of Police in accordance with federal, state or local laws or regulations.
Source: City of South Lake Tahoe.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Discussion of a new parade policy turned sour Tuesday, March 1, at a regularly scheduled city council meeting. At the crux of the matter is whether city councilwoman JoAnn Conner will continue Golden Bear Events’ annual Fourth of July parade, which is a fundraiser for American Legion Post 795 in South Lake Tahoe. She has put on the parade since 2012 as a private endeavor.
Conner is currently involved in litigation with the City of South Lake Tahoe regarding her public censure over alleged inappropriate behavior last October.
“I believe this is more retaliation,” she said, regarding a city move to take over the parade.
Council adopted new policy Tuesday, meant to regulate local parades other than city-sponsored events, 4-1, with Conner dissenting.
An amendment to Tuesday’s adoption, asking the city to put on its own public Fourth of July parade, was introduced by councilman Tom Davis during discussion.
While the city organizing a parade doesn’t preclude Golden Bear Events from also doing one, Conner said, “We can’t have two big parades in town on the Fourth of July.”
Conner said she asked the city to create a clear policy on parades, specifically regarding when such an event should receive a police escort.
Her business, Golden Bear Events, has managed local parades for many years, including two annual fundraisers — the Fourth of July Parade and a winter holiday parade benefiting Christmas Cheer.
“I asked for a parade policy Sept. 1 (2015), so everyone doing a parade would know the rules,” she said. “There’s been a lot of ambiguity.”
Conner stated at Tuesday’s meeting that the policy is still too ambiguous. Then conversation shifted to a perceived conflict of interest regarding Conner using city vehicles in her parade for anything other than public safety.
According to city council discussion, though Golden Bear Events’ Fourth of July parade is considered a nonprofit, meaning it does not financially benefit the councilwoman, Conner’s position as a public servant could create limitations regarding city involvement.
City Manager Nancy Kerry said, “City council resources cannot be used to promote a city council member’s business.”
Mayor Wendy David added, “The policy is very clear and transparent, which lays out that we would just use our resources for public safety.”
Councilman Hal Cole confirmed that having the city take over the Fourth of July parade makes sense — it will be inclusive of the whole community, managed by city employees and free for all to attend.
“We can sponsor the parade and use city resources,” Cole said. “There wouldn’t be any conflict issues.”
Both Cole and Davis confirmed that they would together donate $300 to the American Legion, a comparable amount to last year’s Fourth of July parade donation amount.
“I really hope they make sure the veterans get that money,” Conner said.
“I cannot compete with the vast resources of the city, which will now be used against me. Instead of just an escort, they will spend hundreds of hours of staff time and city money to take away what I have built.”
View the parade policy online at http://www.cityofslt.us.