Guest Editorial by Joe J. Wallace
Why Who Ordered the Opus One Matters
Who would have ever thought that a wine that was established for the sole purpose of catering to the upper class of the worlds centers of wealth would have such a week of free advertising in little old Evansville. Opus One was started for the purpose of creating a brand that would be recognized and consumed by quite frankly wealthy people. The name itself was chosen to combine English and Latin in a way that the French would recognize the brand. The royal family of wine in Napa Valley, California the Mondavis formed the joint venture with a real Royal Family from France, the Rothchilds, to go forth and create wines that only educated pallets and conspicuous consumers could ever appreciate. Opus One was bred to be an over $100 per bottle wine in stores and I reckon a $250 per bottle wine in restaurants in Midwestern cities.
This week it became public knowledge that the Board of Directors of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau celebrated Christmas with a dinner that included 5 bottles of $250 each of burgundy sunshine. Those five bottles including tax and gratuity constituted $1,605 of a total bill of $3,079 that set off a firestorm in the City of Evansville this week. If the cost of the Opus One is removed from the bill the total for the 14 celebrants would have been $1,474 or slightly over $105 per person. Now $105 per person is an expensive dinner, but $220 per person is excessive. Without the Opus One, this dinner would have been at the low end of past dinners enjoyed by the Board of Directors of the ECVB when they gathered together to celebrate.
For this reason, “who ordered the Opus?” is a question that should be asked. Chairman of the Board Joe
Vezzoso is on record as saying that it does not matter who ordered the Opus. He says that because as a growing number of people have privately stated, he is the person who sat at the head of the table and ordered all 5 bottles of the Opus. By making that decision and placing that order Chairman Vezzoso took an expensive dinner and made it excessive. The public response to this excessiveness has robbed the Evansville CVB of the volunteer services of 5 very talented people and their spouses. Perhaps the entire group of professionals and business owners will choose to abstain from public volunteerism from this week forward. If that happens we can thank Mr. Vezzoso for the good deeds that they will now never do.
The members of the board have now equally repaid the expense of the dinner and the CVB has been made whole. The individual members however have not been made whole. To be made whole this is what should happen. Mr. Vezzoso should pick up the $1,605 bill for the Opus himself. He ordered it, he treated everyone, and he should honor the debt of excessiveness that he alone made. What were the other board members and the acting executive director supposed to do? Should they have stopped the event to call out the Chairman of the Board over ordering wine? The rest of the members should pay individually for the alcohol that they each consumed. The remainder of the bill should be approved for payment from CVB funds and treated like all Holiday parties are, as a thank you to the volunteers who spent countless hours pushing this forward.
Dunn Hospitality is a well run business that pays and collects taxes that benefit Evansville. Tucker Publications with its many titles is probably the best ambassador for Evansville lifestyle that has ever been sustained. The other board members are also quite successful in their own right. You may not like the comments that some of these people made after the news of the dinner broke, but you have to respect their talent and dedication. For an area that publically acknowledges having a “brain drain” problem to squander the talents of five proven professionals over the indulgence of one is beyond ridiculous. These people are our friends and neighbors. They are also some of the most talented professionals that the City of Evansville has had FREE access to the talent of for a number of years.
These people’s service as board members of the ECVB is now ended. The genie of this night of extravagance will not be put back into the Opus One bottle. These people however will continue to live and prosper in and around Evansville and hopefully will someday decide to once again volunteer their considerable talents and time to projects in Evansville and Vanderburgh County that desperately need talented people who will work for food.