News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Jason Blevins, The Denver Post
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 5, 2003 - The board of directors for the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau on Tuesday fired Eugene Dilbeck, days before his 10-year anniversary as the bureau's president.
The firing followed a Channel 7 news investigation showing bureau members and staff attending a party hosted by the Diamond Cabaret, a Denver strip club.
"There were some other things," said a member of the bureau who asked not to be identified. "There have been patterns of behavior with how he dealt with people and his interpersonal skills with his staff. Apparently there has been a lot of communication about these issues but there hasn't been any change."
Dilbeck did not return calls seeking comment. Several sources confirmed he has retained an attorney.
The 37 members of the board wrangled over Dilbeck's fate for three hours Tuesday. In a statement, board chairman Walter Isenberg said Dilbeck's contract with the bureau had been terminated. There was no comment concerning buyout terms.
"While difficult, the board, in overwhelming numbers, felt it was in the best interest of the bureau to take this action at this time," Isenberg said in the statement.
Particularly irksome to the board, the source said, was the fact that Dilbeck never advised the board of directors that Diamond Cabaret was hosting an after-work party for bureau members and staff.
Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher is in the middle of an audit of the bureau and has found the bureau commingled its public and private funding. The commingling of an estimated $17 million of public funds in the past three years makes it difficult for auditors to assure that no public money was spent on prohibited expenditures, such as alcohol. The bureau has promised to change its accounting practices, Gallagher spokesman Denis Berckefeldt said.
Dilbeck has garnered tremendous respect within the tourism industry.
When he joined the bureau as president in 1993, the state's voters had just nixed a tourism tax. Since his first day, Dilbeck had stumped for the revival of a permanent source of funding for tourism.
He led the charge to publicly fund a $268 million expansion of the city's convention center, and last week announced that the bureau had secured $1.1 billion in future business in the expanded center.
He also pushed Denver leaders to support a publicly owned, 1,100-room convention center hotel.
Dilbeck has served on myriad boards and committees, including the governor-appointed board of the Colorado Tourism Office.
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