Friday, March 29, 2013
The town’s probe of booth rejections at the Flowertown Festival is on hold until after the festival, scheduled for April 5-7.
At Councilman Walter Bailey’s request, the town asked the Summerville Family YMCA for records from the past five years of organizations that have been denied booths at the festival.
The festival is a fundraiser for the YMCA, but it’s held on public property, including roads and Azalea Park, and the YMCA receives money from the hospitality and accommodations tax fund to help with costs.
The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry protested being denied a booth this year, citing religious viewpoint discrimination.
Under pressure of a lawsuit, the YMCA reversed its decision, saying it didn’t have enough information about the group from its initial application, and granted it a booth.
The humanists will be on Main Street across from the children’s rides.
Bailey, however, expressed concern that future disputes of that nature could drag the town into litigation.
He was also annoyed the YMCA hadn’t alerted the town to the dispute.
He said he wanted to see five years of records to see if there was a pattern to the types of organizations that were denied.
So far he hasn’t been satisfied with the response.
The YMCA produced three years of records, asking for a delay until after the festival to locate the additional two years, but in Bailey’s view only one year of the records produced were along the lines of what he wanted.
One year included the names of the organizations and the individuals spearheading their applications; the other two years included only the names of the individuals, Bailey said.
Those records are useless to his task because he has no idea which organizations “Joe Smith” or “Jane Doe” are representing, and therefore can’t tell if there are any similarities amongst those denied.
YMCA CEO Gary Lukridge said the YMCA produced exactly the records the town requested.
The YMCA checked with the town to be sure it knew what the town wanted, he said, and that’s what his group was told.
The town hasn’t returned to say it’s unsatisfied with the records, Lukridge said.