HAAA loses 2 members; Cusack to appoint 1 to board

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH, VOLUSIA

BY JAMES HARPER
DAYTONA TIMES

Two members of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority (HAAA) have resigned and one of the new appointments will have to be made by Volusia County Vice Chair Joyce Cusack.

Volusia County Vice Chair Joyce Cusack is shown with her last HAAA appointment – Pravin “P.M.” Patel.

This is another opportunity for Cusack to place another Black on the board, which did not have any on it prior to an appointment she made two years ago. That was shortly after Cusack was elected to the county council’s at-large seat. She is the only Black on the council.

Volusia County Government spokesman Dave Byron says there currently there are applications on file to fill vacancies on the HAAA board from Thomas Blawn, Chad Brunton, Theresa Doan, Joseph Ellingham, Herbert Hennessy, Michael Kardos and Samir Naran.

It’s not known if there are any Black applicants for the HAAA board.

One Black on board
Cusack has said it is her goal while serving on the county council to involve as many (different) people as possible, “to give everybody an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process using Advertising Authority dollars.”

Her last two appointments to the HAAA board were a White male and a hotel owner of Indian descent.

There is only one Black on the 11-member board, Sophia Huger, who was appointed by County Councilman Josh Wagner.

Among Cusack’s first appointment two years ago was Kathryn Bryant, who is Black. She resigned for personal reasons.

Cusack’s last HAAA board appointment was Praven “P.M.’’ Patel, the owner of the Heritage Inn. That appointment drew criticism from Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood. He was later reprimanded by City Manager Jim Chisholm for making comments in the media about the appointment.

Member gets job in D.C.
Tangela Boyd, Interim Director of Communications for the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), confirmed that HAAA member Amit Patel, also a Cusack appointment, has resigned from the board.

The HAAA board is an 11-member volunteer board appointed by the county council that okays how the CVB spends roughly $6 million on tourism advertising each year.

The funds come from bed taxes charged to tourists who stay in area hotels.

Amit Patel, who operated the Rodeway Inn in Daytona Beach, is leaving to accept a job offer in Washington, D.C.

Byron said this week, “A resignation from Amit Patel has not been received by the county manager’s office. Perhaps it’s coming but not yet here. Mrs. Cusack’s nomination is not on the agenda.”

County council votes on members
County Chairman Frank Bruno will be nominating Jason Reader, general manager of the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, to replace Rich Larkin, the former general manager of the hotel. Byron said a vote on Bruno’s nomination is scheduled to come before the county council at the July 12 meeting in DeLand.

Byron said the members of HAAA are nominated by individual county council members. A nomination is voted on by all county council members with a majority of at least four votes required.

“Rarely do appointments made by an individual county council member not get majority vote support. Nominations come from people who fill out an application,” Byron said.

The Daytona Times attempted to reach Cusack this week for a comment on the HAAA vacancy but was unable to do so by press deadline.

Councilwoman Joie Alexander told the Daytona Times recently that future appointments will come under more scrutiny.

“We need more time to do our own vetting. We never had a process. … Need more time so appointment is not an embarrassment,” said Alexander.

In a previous interview, Cusack said she had no problem with the vetting of appointments but not only her appointments.

Cusack is responsible for three appointments to the HAAA board.

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