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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Oops. City accidentally links website with conversation about Richard Spencer.

Spencer
Spencer

Gainesville city officials accidentally shared a Facebook post to a site with a recording from an adviser to the County Commission talking about boosts to tax revenue because of Richard Spencer’s visit.

The post last week advertised volunteergnv.org, a site that was supposed to be used to connect volunteers with organizations, but when users clicked on the link, they were directed to a website with a recording of county officials talking about white supremacist Richard Spencer’s Oct. 19, 2017 speech in Gainesville. The post was fixed the following morning and replaced with servegnv.org, city spokesperson Chip Skinner said.

The site used to upload the recording was purchased Aug. 13 by a private user. The city won’t conduct an internal investigation, Skinner said.

Even though the recording was taken from a county meeting, Skinner said, the domain used was one of two sites they were considering for their volunteer website.

In the 15-second recording, which was taken at a July 9 Tourist Development Council meeting, Alachua County officials who attended confirmed that Tommy Crosby, the assistant county manager for budget and fiscal services, and Megan Eckdahl, the general manager for the Hampton Inn by Hilton Gainesville were in the recording.

The public monthly meeting was held to discuss funding and revenue for the Tourist Development Tax — a 5 percent tax applied to short-term lodging.

Crosby spoke about events that had increased the revenue, including home football games, Hurricane Irma and Spencer’s speech, but only the portion about Spencer was recorded. The predicted 2018 tax revenue would be about $5,084,089, compared to $4,815,963 in 2017.

“He can come back and stay and speak because that helped the economy,” Eckdahl responded to Crosby in the recording.

Eckdahl couldn’t be reached for comment.

“I was just relaying data that brought people into the community that drove up revenues,” Crosby said.

Contact Christina Morales at cmorales@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @Christina_M18

Correction: The comment in question was made by an adviser to the County Commission. 

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