Catch FlaglerLive on CNN
Pierre Tristam | June 12, 2010
I’ll be on CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield during the 3 p.m. hour discussing the oil spill’s impact on local governments, and on local school districts in particular. (For the post-show confessional, see here.)
Crisis mode: I’m recording the US-England match, which takes place at the same time. Anyone who spills the results anywhere I can see them before 6 p.m. will be condemned to working PR for BP in the Louisiana Bayous for the next six months.
CNN got interested in the school-spill angle because of FlaglerLive’s May 18 story (Flagler Schools Bracing for Dismal Fiscal (and Oil Spill) Impact). Predictions from that story are creeping closer to the truth with every gallon of oil spilling into the Gulf, especially the nasty hit on state revenue if tourists begin to look elsewhere and avoid Florida beaches. Tourism is the state’s largest industry at the moment. Sales tax revenue accounts for a 74 percent share of Florida’s budget, and is disproportionately driven by tourist activity. Slam that, and you slam the state budget (as happened in September 2001, but for a shorter period than anticipated at the time).
The spill is a slow-motion inferno, with longer-lasting effects than a single, spectacular event. BP is pouring in a few million dollars to help small businesses and Florida’s advertising campaigns to keep luring tourists here. But no advertising in the world can counter the effect of the images of oil-entombed pelicans or turtles on beaches, or the feeling of tar on a heel nowhere near Chapel Hill. And most people don’t know their Flagler from their Pensacola, when it comes to the state’s geography. Florida is Florida in the average tourist’s mind, especially foreigners, who have no idea of the geographical breadth and variety of the state. Perception is all.