Harley Doles’ Monroe Theater misrepresentations.
Harley Doles is at it again, and once again, it involves the Monroe Theater. His latest tactic, however, was far less than honest, as he once again invoked the Monroe-Woodbury School District in an attempt to capitalize on community goodwill for the school system.
In the October 30th edition of The Photo-News, Monroe Town Supervisor Harley Doles placed a full-page advertisement to promote the currently failing Monroe Theater (a.k.a. TMACC).
His goal is to do anything to further justify the town’s ownership and operation of the theater, and now he’s sunk to even further depths to achieve that end. His latest scheme involves donating a portion of the proceeds toward the 2018 class proms. Presumably, this will somehow be achieved by using the students to assist with that fund-raising effort, which the ad states will continue until $30,000 is raised. Clearly, this misguided attempt is banking on the goodwill given by residents toward student fundraising efforts. And on the surface, it’s an easy sell: But a ticket from a student, get to see a movie. On the surface, it’s easy to confuse this with a quick win.
Harley Doles, however, neglected to cover the right bases with this thinly veiled ruse to fill theater seats and claim victory. Typical of the Monroe Supervisor’s efforts, Harley Doles hasn’t provided full transparency on the details, and as expected, he won’t tell you the whole story. And that story?
As we demonstrated in a prior article, the theater isn’t turning a profit. Harley Doles would have you believe that they lose a little money on each ticket, but somehow make up for it in volume. In fact, the theater loses a lot of money not only on each ticket, but they lose even more money on the popcorn concession by underpricing the one product that most theaters count on to make their profit. That’s right.
Theaters don’t make their money on showing that blockbuster movie. Depending on the fees paid to the movie producer — most of the first week’s box office ticket sales — the concession stand helps to make up the difference and put a theater in the black. Charging only $5 per ticket for a blockbuster generally means that the theater will only get to keep about $1 of that ticket sale. The percentage the theater keeps increases the longer a film is in theatric release. Discounting the ticket doesn’t work well for turning a profit. Discounting concession sales means that a theater only undercuts its own money-making potential. This explains why your large popcorn costs so much. (see this link for The Economics of The Movie Theater). It doesn’t take much research to figure that out, though Harley Doles barely knows how to run a VCR, let alone a movie theater.
And our Town Board’s accounting controls are nothing more than a shell game, with little ability to identify specific donations earmarked for yet another pet project.
So what Supervisor Doles doesn’t state is that the $30,000 would simply be a taxpayer-funded gift since the money paid for each ticket doesn’t even cover operational costs for the Monroe Theater, let alone making enough to give to what seems a worthy cause.
But there’s still more to the story.
No Monroe-Woodbury Endorsement.
In appropriating the Monroe-Woodbury School District, Harley Doles should have sought their permission and endorsement for his campaign. And that’s precisely what he did not do. If not challenged, most residents would believe that this is simply an innocent fundraiser benefitting students. And they might buy a ticket. Without the right accounting controls in place would not yield any benefits to the students, and only benefits Harley Doles’ continued effort to justify the investment and “blockbuster” losses.
And Harley Doles has not engendered himself to Monroe-Woodbury Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez with prior efforts to insert himself into school district affairs. This time? It appears Harley Doles is highly successful at alienating himself with just about anyone. This is no different. Superintendent Rodriguez clearly hasn’t provided any consent, and wants nothing to do with the effort, a pre-requisite for any fundraising effort involving the school.
In short, Harley Doles is not telling you the whole truth. He’s giving Monroe’s citizens another half-baked scheme to keep his theater ownership alive. Two weeks ago, the theater had sold only 15,000 tickets and Doles’ assertion was that his “beautiful” facility might not be much longer. Or might not be sustainable under municipal ownership and Town Board control. By this week, it’s 16,000. Sales are not bustling.
What you should know.
The bottom-line is this:
- The Prom benefit is not School District sponsored, endorsed, or approved.
- Any money you give simply buys a discounted ticket.
- Any ticket purchased helps Harley Doles justify keeping the theater in operation. And keep losing money.
- It’s a distraction to take your eyes off the real issues. And those are the mismanagement of our town’s finances, lack of focus on essential services, irrational spending on non-essential expenses, hiring of personal friends to town payroll, and continuing to misrepresent facts.
Worse yet? Your local paper, The Photo-News, placed the ad without any thought to checking if the cause was legitimate. The cost of that sort of advertising in the Photo News is around $1400 or more, which is a large portion of the box office take after paying the movie distributor. And that doesn’t include any expenses. The Photo News must do a better job of fact-checking, a long-running with our local press. Seeing the potential for misrepresentation, they should have sent the same sort of email as a private citizen did above, and revised the ad to remove questionable statements.
We hope the readers of our Website aren’t as gullible as either Harley Doles and the Monroe Town Board, or The Photo-News, would like to believe you are.