Last night Mayor Francis Slay and Planning Director Rollin Stanley were in London representing the city at the World Leadership Awards. St. Louis was a finalist in the area of housing. Yesterday the Mayor’s blog noted this much. They also had a little note at the end:
Note to Editors: The World Leadership Forum (WLF) is a not-for-profit organization which promotes leadership internationally â€” especially in the areas of science, technology, education, communication and the arts â€” by spotlighting the work of exceptional leaders and achievers in a host of disciplines.
See, by adding a note at the end it gives the group some legitimacy. From where I see it, this organization is all about award shows and by paying money to “win” an award it is self funded. Sure, they have no entry fees but they notify the short list of people later and they must fork over some cash to offset costs. The price tag last year was Â£3,000 ($5,900).
So you are asking yourself, how can I be so sure this is all rigged? Well, I cannot prove anything. First, it is the price tag which raises a big red flag. World leaders seldom have to pay to be recognized as such. References to this have been removed from their website. Last year their site indicated:
Cities reaching the shortlists (from two four in each category) will be required to pay a fee of Â£3,000 to cover the presentation and judging costs (venue hire, audiovisual equipment, crew, catering, judges travel expenses etc.), as well as the cost of a table at the award ceremony (the table seats up to ten guests and includes complimentary cocktails, dinner, wine programs etc.).
Cities which fail to pay the fee within 30 days of the invoice date will be disqualified from the awards.
Cities that do not reach the shortlists will not be charged any fees.
Second, the sponsoring organization refuses to disclose how many entries are received in each category. Was it just the two-four on the shortlist or was it 10 or more. They indicate they refuse to disclose the entries not shortlisted because they don’t want to embarrass those cities. Well, they don’t want to disclose the number of entries as it would likely prove embarrassing to the winners. Furthermore, while claiming to promote leadership and give awards to cities so that it might help others, they don’t publish the winning entries.
Speaking of winners, The City of Las Vegas was the big winner last night. The unsustainable city in Nevada got three awards for Transport, Leisure & Sport as well as the American City of the Year. Yes, Las Vegas the American City of the Year! That has to tell you something!
We were a finalist against City of Ahmedabad, the capital city of Gujarat, India. Their submission was called Housing for the Poor.
Our submission? The title was, “Vacancy to Vibrancy.” Did we win? Uh, yeah. You don’t think we are going to send the Mayor and a key staff person to London if we weren’t going to win? (Wink, wink).
Last year the St. Louis PR spin machine was in full swing using words like “nominated” — as if someone suggested we deserved an award. They also said things like ‘out of 400 entries’ to imply it was a crowded contest. In actuality, it turned out to be the organization sent mailers out to over 400 cities asking them to submit entries. You can read last year’s post here and review last year’s entry here. I’ve already sent over my request for the latest entry via the Missouri Sunshine Law regarding open records.