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MAYOR BERATES VISITORS BUREAU.

Byline: Mariel Garza Staff Writer

Mayor James Hahn endorsed City Controller Laura Chick's highly critical audit of the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau on Wednesday, calling the agency's performance ``underwhelming.''

During an appearance on ``Ask the Mayor,'' a call-in talk show on KFWB-AM (980), Hahn called for the bureau to make some changes to bring more shows and conventions to Los Angeles. It also should make its staff more accountable for its expenses, he said.

``I think we need to really look at the whole contract the city has with the Visitors and Convention Bureau and see what we can do to tighten that up and really make them work for performance-oriented goals,'' Hahn said. ``We have not been getting the conventions and shows that we need here in Los Angeles.

``We are not filling up our hotel rooms like we should be,'' the mayor said. ``When Des Moines, Iowa, gets more conventions than Los Angeles, California, obviously we need to do something about that.''

Hahn also hinted that the bureau's president, George Kirkland, whose $350,000-a-year compensation package was criticized in the controller's report, might face an uncertain future unless the bureau reforms itself.

``(The bureau staff's) performance has been underwhelming, to say the least, and I want to see some results,'' Hahn said. ``I think they need to revamp their leadership, look for ways to get more shows here. We shouldn't be paying for shows that never get here.

``Part of the problem was that people were actually getting bonuses for booking shows even if those shows canceled a few years later. That's just wrong,'' the mayor said. ``The board has asked (Kirkland) to make changes. We'll see if he can do that and revitalize that organization. Nobody should have a lock on any job.''

Kirkland was unavailable for comment.

Michael Collins, executive vice president of LACVB, said the bureau has already started making some of the changes recommended in the audit and will take further steps to do a better job of selling Los Angeles as a destination.

As for Hahn's suggestion that the LACVB should be revamped, Collins responded: ``I think the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau has the tools to succeed.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Oct 24, 2002
Words:367
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