Much to the chagrin of many, the WIlmington CIty Council spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with zoning in their newly acquired occupied territory. They hashed over how they should classify all of this newly gobbled up territory from a planning and zoning standpoint. I was surprised they didn’t take the high road and simply say they would wait until the General Assembly had their say in the matter. Why?
Well, the NC legislature has said they would deal with the Monkey Junction situation specifically and today was the first day of the short session. Guess what. . . annexation was on deck.
(StarNews) – A Senate committee on Wednesday is expected to consider a bill to repeal pending local involuntary annexations, including annexations by Wilmington and Southport.
The bill also would prohibit involuntary annexations of those areas for 12 years, according to a bill explanation.
A separate bill also expected to be heard by the Senate Rules Committee Wednesday afternoon would require a majority vote of annexation-area residents in a referendum in order to allow a municipality-initiated annexation to move forward.
So, it looks like the council yet again wasted taxpayer dollars and their time. Picking a fight with the citizens at home and the legislators in Raleigh isn’t healthy for business or for the taxpayers. They could have acted with a great deal more maturity on this one and shown some leadership by taking their time.
It didn’t have to be this way, but they acted stubbornly and with no sense of diplomacy.Read full article » No Comments »
He’s been in the news lately and he’s either a visionary maverick or as close to a snake oil salesman as modern developers can get. His name is Chuck Schoniger and he’s tied to the northern Wilmington waterfront and has property that the Flywheel/Trask folks hope to get for the baseball project. Here’s an interesting article from the Greater Wilmington Business Journal:
As construction crews continue progress on the Northern Riverfront Marina and Hotel project, its developer may soon have other projects in store thanks to continued interest from foreign investors.
Chuck Schoninger, president and CEO of Wilmington-based USA InvestCo, said Tuesday that as his firm continues to grow, interest in Wilmington from international investors is growing. USA InvestCo is an investment firm that raises capital from international interest for U.S. projects.
“We have 15 full-time employees in China currently, and about equal to that in the U.S. that do different things,” Schoninger said. “From handling EB5 to putting together presentations for future investors, we’re doing a lot to raise significant capital for our future projects.”
Since opening an investment office in Guangzhou, China more than a year ago, Schoninger is luring Chinese investors with a federal program called Employment Based Program Number 5, or EB5 — where for a minimum of $500,000 invested, individual investors are granted green cards to move their families to the country.
Last month, Schoninger, along with Joanna Zhao, a North Carolina Department of Commerce representative, visited with dozens of stakeholders with the Agricultural Bank of China in Jinan.
EB5 also provides green cards to Chinese nationals for “x” amount of investment here. I’m not saying that in a xenophobic manner, just a point of fact added to the conversation. Again, he’s either a visionary or charlatan, time will tell!Read full article » No Comments »
There is an interesting difference between the almost $90m approach to the city budget and the (est) $40m mostly taxpayer funded stadium. Here’s a sample of the language used to describe the budget over the next month. Keep in mind, the city is preparing for a 20%+ in the property rate and wanting to make sure they get public input:
(WWAY) - City council will hold work sessions on the budget both on June 4 and June 6, with a public hearing in between on June 5. The budget must be adopted by June 30.
(StarNews) - After hearing a presentation on the proposed $86 million budget, the council decided Tuesday to hold off on plans to take a first pass of it until the public has a chance to review and speak on it. The council will hold a work session after the June 4 agenda meeting, a public hearing and consideration of a first pass of the budget June 5 and another work session June 6.
This is the way coverage on the baseball stadium (also discussed the same night and on the same timeframe.)
(StarNews) - National, the city’s outside consultant, will be analyzing the Flywheel/Trask proposal and make a recommendation to the council June 19. National and the city will be holding another public meeting to share any updates the week of May 28. The firm is also conducting a survey on the city’s website, seeking public input.
A public meeting is not a public hearing. The city is not required to hold a public hearing for the stadium unless they take on debt. It will be interesting to see how the city proceeds. As it stands right now, the city would be on the hook for roughly $25m plus interest on the almost $40m stadium with NO ownership. In other words, taxpayers will pay for it, but won’t own it. I’m not entirely sure about the legality of the city giving money to a private company works and this seems to be way beyond a typical incentive deal.Read full article » No Comments »
The left leaning Brookings Institute has a bit to say on taxpayer funded ball stadiums:
Proponents (of taxpayer funded stadiums) claim that sports facilities improve the local economy in four ways. First, building the facility creates construction jobs. Second, people who attend games or work for the team generate new spending in the community, expanding local employment. Third, a team attracts tourists and companies to the host city, further increasing local spending and jobs. Finally, all this new spending has a “multiplier effect” as increased local income causes still more new spending and job creation. Advocates argue that new stadiums spur so much economic growth that they are self-financing: subsidies are offset by revenues from ticket taxes, sales taxes on concessions and other spending outside the stadium, and property tax increases arising from the stadium’s economic impact.
Unfortunately, these arguments contain bad economic reasoning that leads to overstatement of the benefits of stadiums. Economic growth takes place when a community’s resources—people, capital investments, and natural resources like land—become more productive. Increased productivity can arise in two ways: from economically beneficial specialization by the community for the purpose of trading with other regions or from local value added that is higher than other uses of local workers, land, and investments. Building a stadium is good for the local economy only if a stadium is the most productive way to make capital investments and use its workers.
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A group that support the private funding of a ball stadium in Wilmington sans tax increase is holding a press conference at 11am today at city hall. Over 60 business owners and private citizens have already joined the alliance and more are joining daily.
The group’s intention is to support a stadium without a tax increase and encourage city council to support the taxpayers. A sample of their initiative.
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Taxpayers need relief and not the burden of additional debt for a luxury endeavor.
I believe the city’s priorities at this time, and always, should be providing and
maintaining adequate public facilities, infrastructure and services, such as public safety,
roads and sidewalks, solid waste, parking and drainage.
A new baseball stadium is not a necessity nor should it be a priority.
The city’s top priority should be keeping the tax rate down and supporting policies and
initiatives that improve the stake of every citizen and every business, large or small.
A vast network of environmental activists with insidious schemes plots to dismantle our vital American industries; especially energy and other necessary products derived from our natural resources. Slowly, but surely, they are destroying industries that give us high quality living at reasonable cost.
During the past several years here at the Southeastern coastal area we have seen how they operate. The Stop Titan Action Network made up of local, regional and national groups has mobilized to prevent Carolinas Cement from building a plant in a rural area north of Wilmington, N. C. (link)
It all starts innocently enough—even seemingly well intended. A mother in West Virginia bent on stopping strip-mining coal in Appalachia passes environmental zealotry to her daughter who moves to Boone, N. C. to organize Appalachian Voices (link) advocating to stop mining, then becomes deputy director of the Sierra Club’s subversive Beyond Coal campaign. (link)
The radical activists use gullible citizens to front their agenda. Behind the apparent “grass roots” movements, strategies by foundations, community organizers, public health advocates, leftist academics, greedy law firms and political operatives’ fund, promote and legislate environmentalist’s demands. This cabal of anti-capitalists and utopian visionaries uses forceful and deceptive tactics. Consider the Beyond Coal campaign, for instance.
An article titled, “Emissions Impossible,” in the May/June 2012 Mother Jones magazine (motto: “smart, fearless journalism”) by Mark Hertsgaard describes how people (and their money) supporting these groups have “cancelled, legally barred, or otherwise stopped” 166 proposed coal-fired power plants across the U. S. How did they do this? (link)
The author calls it “retail politics”—“talking with friends and neighbors, pestering local media, packing regulatory hearings, protesting before state legislatures, filing legal challenges and more.” Sounds familiar.
Watch for more of this right here in River City brought to us by the Stop Titan Network.Read full article » No Comments »
One would think the City of Wilmington’s leaders would be concerned about the ACTUAL role of government. Maybe, they should focus their attention, their energies, their abilities to making the streets safer, the roads better and fire protection more efficient. Why should the city be giving baseball a higher degree of city haste, than any of the aforementioned issues?
(StarNews) Tony Caudle, asst. city manager, said the city faces a “compressed timeline” to review locations and funding options. Next week, the city council is expected to receive proposals for locations and financing models from a development team organized by the Braves and Mandalay, which will seek private financing in a public-private partnership with the city. National Sports will review the development team’s proposals and let city officials know which ones would work for Wilmington. . . . Caudle said the city is early in its process even with the tight deadlines.. . . he explained that the Braves and Mandalay are on one track of planning while National Sports, the city’s consultant, was on another track with determining the feasibility of proposals.
Folks, pay attention, there is NO discussion of PRIVATE FUNDING, only PRIVATE FINANCING which means taxpayer funded! They are being forced to at least be somewhat honest that there is NO private funding being sought. And the folks doing the FINANCING will make money on the interest they charge the taxpayers. Shame, shame!
It is also NOT the role of the city to work for Mandalay or the Braves, but they sure are giving them a great deal of time. Meanwhile you have to wonder if Caudle is being paid by TAXPAYERS that he is supposed to serve or the people wanting him to use $40m or more to build them a stadium with taxpayer money?
As of yet, not ONE city council member has expressed disdain at the prospect of bilking the taxpayers on this. But there is still hope and it’s in the hands of taxpayers who are now facing a 20% increase in their property tax rate even without a stadium!Read full article » No Comments »
Last night, the citizens of Wilmington were treated to “free” movie of sorts. Th city had planned to show the recorded meeting of the Election Night presentation made by National Sports Services (NSS) on the proposed taxpayer funded baseball stadium. (They had to leave town before making a second presentation.) They didn’t inform the public that they were going to alter that plan.
(StarNews) – Instead of showing attendees the video of Tuesday night’s meeting, which was attended and led by National Sports representatives, Deputy City Manager Tony Caudle presented information about the proposed stadium’s potential economic benefits, funding sources and – the main reason for the meeting – general areas where it could be built.
Notice the interesting use of language, profound lack of economic honesty and the illusion that people actually have lots of money to spend on entertainment that they’re not spending now. Come on Tony, be honest with citizens! 1) People don’t have a lot of extra money that they’re just dying to spend on another baseball team. 2) What they will spend will be money that would otherwise go to businesses that are already here and now will be spending their taxes to support a business that is trying to put them out of business. 3) The funding is going to be TAXES!
At any rate, last night didn’t really answer any additional questions. We’re still awaiting the “plan” by Mandalay, the Braves or the city. The ONLY thing we really know is that the city wants to build a taxpayer funded stadium. They might even be willing to avoid any kind of competitive process by letting the insiders build it and then “sell” it to the city to avoid any property tax issues.
Here’s hoping that city will not balk at private funding and ownership of a stadium. Thus far the Chamber of Commerce is against private funding as is Wilmington Downtown Inc. You have to wonder why two groups that say they support businesses would be so entrenched in spending taxes over private money.
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“We have people in Raleigh now who are going to represent our interests”—profound words spoken by Mr. Arthur Lougren. He and his wife Dagmar live just south of the People’s Republic of Wilmington in Monkey Junction on 1,100 acres of prospering development currently free of double taxation. This revenue-rich land has for years been coveted by the greedy politicians and bureaucrats in River City.
Few here would benefit from being annexed, but the totalitarians in control of city government arbitrarily seized the property.
State senators Thom Goolsby and David Rouzer, courageously and thankfully representing the citizens, plan to stop the takeover with legislation aptly titled “Wilmington Annexation Suspension.” Arrogant city officials “continued to fight us all the way,” observed Sen. Goolsby. (link)
This municipal reign-of-terror is ending, much to the consternation of North Carolina cities that, with their politically powerful League of Municipalities lobby, have previously usurped property outside city limits unhindered by law or petitions for grievance—not to provide better services, but to prop up crumbling downtowns with heavily subsidized social projects.
Before the ink was dry on a legislated moratorium, the city police force took over the area and the central planners have begun to establish “zoning districts.” Monkey Junction residents don’t need more police or socialist planners—imposing reviews and permits required to build and operate private development (even the amount of window space business people could use would be controlled by bureaucrats). (link)
But city planners “must move forward” with their meddling “nonconformities…conditional use permits” and “appropriate” zoning categories for 1,365 private properties—unnecessary and unwanted by the owners.
The annexation of property by government force, in this case, isn’t the most egregious of historical totalitarianism, but it’s another onerous form leading to absolute and centralized control over our lives, unacceptable to free people.Read full article » No Comments »
Percentage of folks who turned out for early voting? New Hanover County – 29.54%, Brunswick – 31% (wow)
Percentages on Marriage Amendment by county? New Hanover – in favor by 329 votes, Brunswick – 65%/35%, Pender – 68%/32%, Bladen – 83%/17%, Columbus 85%/15% (all in favor)
In December, how many incumbents will leave the New Hanover County Commission? 3 out of 5, and it’s possible that only 1 (Brian Berger) might be the ONLY incumbent. Jason Thompson lost the primary, Ted Davis is running for NC House as is Rick Caitlin and Jonathan Barfield still faces re-election in November as the current lone democrat on the board.
How many coastal counties did Sen. David Rouzer win in the newly drawn 7th GOP congressional district primary against Ilario Pantano? None, Pantano won New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender decisively. It will be interesting to see if the GOP comes together on this front in the fall against current incumbent Mike McIntyre (who doesn’t live in the district).
There are hundreds of interesting questions to consider when looking through the minutia, but these were just a few that popped into my sleep deprived head.
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