Another damning piece of journalism has been done that exposes how bad this taxpayer funded stadium effort has become.
(WECT) - The Wilmington Family Entertainment and Baseball Coalition has raised nearly $113,000, short of the original goal of $150,000. Chamber President Connie Majure-Rhett said Tuesday that the group had raised what was necessary for a strong campaign and doesn’t need to reach that original goal. <-too funny!
The donations are mostly from those who would benefit directly from the city of Wilmington buying land and building a stadium in the downtown area. . . More than half of the donations to the coalition, $65,551, have paid for the services of a Raleigh-based public relations firm, Capstrat.
Rich Neumann with Mandalay Baseball pitched donating $50,000 to the “Vote Yes” effort. However, the report shows Mandalay has contributed $12,500 to the committee. The Atlanta Braves also contributed $12,500.
This is absolutely hilarious! The Chamber fell short of raising the money it told the public it would raise. They didn’t even believe enough in the area to hire a local vendor so they went to Raleigh to do the PR work. It’s even funnier that the ONLY people that have given money to the project are really investing in themselves. That’s a HOOT!
It just gets funnier and you get the feeling that they really know how foolish this prospect is when even they don’t go all in. Not mentioned here is that council maintained from the beginning that calls ran 50-50 both for and against. That claim is now laughable as well.
Councilman O’Grady and the rest of the council really look bad on this one. But not quite as bad as the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce which still can’t present to the public its audited financial statements from 2011.Read full article » No Comments »
One of the great controversies of our times involves the juxtaposition of our constitutional rights, Christian faith and politics. Some say faith and politics should be segregated and separate in our lives. But, recently, an insert in the weekly bulletin of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Wilmington (www.iccwilm.org) reminded me of the connection between these activities and why it is important that we recognize it.
The Diocese of Raleigh prepared a guiding statement for Catholic voters: “Concerning Religious Liberty and Human Dignity.” Although I’m not a church member, I think that this guidance to faithful Catholics has wisdom that applies to all American citizens.
The Diocese counsels Catholics to be informed on the “issues of our day,” their church teachings and what positions and policies political candidates advocate relative to church principles. I agree that those best prepared to vote wisely, should base judgment on moral principles, be informed of the issues and know where the candidates stand.
Diocese writers explain “The Nature of our Freedom.” They observe that Catholic faithful participate not only in private worship, but also simultaneously as “citizens of this great nation.” God-given “foundational gifts” of human dignity and freedom provide that right. “Our exercise of this freedom naturally inserts us into the public square,” they write.
These thoughts hark back to The Declaration of Independence: that we assume “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle (us)….” And the self-evident truth that we “are endowed by (our) Creator with certain unalienable Rights….” Further, that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” It’s implied that citizens, regardless of faith, are obliged to participate.
Finally, the Diocese page illustrates a current threat to religious liberty: “The freedom to exercise these beliefs has been removed by our federal government in the recent Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate, which requires all private health plans to include abortion.” Cardinal Dolan wrote: “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This should not happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”
Statist legislators and federal officials have wedged the law between the marketplace and citizens, and violate our rights. They coercively meddle in our private lives. Those of us who value our Constitution as the guiding political document for our nation should stand with the principles of liberty the Catholic Church now fights for—regardless of our religious beliefs.Read full article » No Comments »
Worth noting over at Port City Daily is the story about poverty by Ben Brown. Meticulously looking through the data, he discovered some poverty data for this region that isn’t exactly stellar news:
Results from the American Community Survey, a Census Bureau product of various area-by-area statistics, show 16.8 percent of New Hanover County—more than 33,000 residents—fell under the poverty level.
So, one would think such news would be bad enough, but advocates for MORE government never will see even high numbers as bad enough.
“Poverty is growing and, unfortunately, those who probably never saw themselves facing economic struggles are now facing it,” said Yolanda Burwell, a senior fellow at the Rural Center. The private nonprofit serves 85 counties in the state, including Brunswick and Pender.
“Family poverty and family homelessness is rising all over the nation, and we’re seeing it here,” Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, an assistant professor with the Watson College of Education at UNCW, said.
Two notes. . on the one hand, in the presidential arena, the current administration is trying to say things are getting better even as advocates, that lean toward the admins positions, are saying just the opposite.
AND. . . why would the Wilmington City Council and Chamber not connect the dots that the economy is still bad with a potential gilded age stadium proposal that will raise taxes?Read full article » No Comments »
The situation with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce continues to escalate. And more media are growing concerned. Here’s what we know.
They are not in compliance with state law that requires that their audited financial statement be available. Their claim is that their accountant just hasn’t been able to get it done. That’s wearing thin now that we’re in October and simply trying to inspect 2011′s statements. Others are making calls on this matter.
They claimed to be funding a $150k ad campaign to support the baseball referendum, but few folks can see any evidence that such a campaign is really taking place. Two surveys, not released to the public, some signs and a commercial do not add up to $150k. To boot, while claiming to represent the wonders of business in Wilmington the Chamber avoided ALL local vendors and instead hired CapStrat out of Raleigh. That’s a significant lack of faith for local vendors and illustrates that the Chamber isn’t really about local business.
To date, the head of the Chamber, Connie Majure-Rhett has supported the Wilmington City budget for this year that included a 3.5 cent tax increase, the conditional use permit with New Hanover County that will hinder future business enterprises, supported the Convanta trash deal that will increase trash disposal by over 50%, and the proposed tax increase for the baseball stadium. In fact, it would be hard to find a pro-free market, less regulatory position that the Chamber has supported at all.
Several members of the Board of Directors have met and agreed that Connie should NOT speak to the media or take any questions. Phone calls to several of the Board’s officers have not yet been returned either. Here is the list of the board of directors. Messages have been left with Emily Longley of Longley Supply, Hal Kitchin of McGuireWoods, LLP and Dallas Romanowski of Cornerstone Advisory Partners. Why are these folks so afraid to talk?
Short version of the story, the Chamber is in damage control mode, backing a highly unpopular tax increase and is hiding from the media. They don’t want to release their surveys to the public, don’t want to take tough questions, can’t comply with current law on financial statement disclosure, accept taxpayer dollars, don’t have anyone running their Cape Fear Futures program even as they promise they have the funds to run it, and can’t use local vendors to run a publicity campaign. Still waiting also to see accountability for Federal money received as well.Read full article » No Comments »
Regardless of where you might stand on the taxpayer funded stadium there is no doubt that tonight’s debate on the matter should prove interesting. Mayor Bill Saffo and Councilman Kevin O’Grady will make the case that taxes aren’t high enough and that baseball can only happen if we increase taxes.
Business owners Scott Harry and Jim Rafferty will be making the case that this isn’t what government should be doing and that taxes are already plenty high.
That’s an oversimplified version of what will surely be THE local debate of the election season. You can find out more about the details here courtesy of WWAY TV and WHQR radio.
It will be on air TONIGHT beginning at 7 p.m. on WHQR-FM 91.3 and on RTV, as well as streamed live at whqr.org and at WWAYTV3.com. On Time Warner Cable RTV is channel 106, on ATMC channel 903, on Charter Cable channel 145 and over the air at 3.2.Read full article » No Comments »
The pending tax payer stadium referendum continues to spiral towards election day. Surveys done by both sides show a lack of support and the folks at the Chamber that were planning to spend $150k don’t seem to have spent very much other than some odd signs asking folks to “get the facts” in spite of overwhelming economic data to suggest their way doesn’t work.
Nonetheless, the mayor gave the clearest indication yet that taxpayer funding pursuits might actually come to a close if the taxpayer reject this referendum:
(StarNews) A failed referendum would mean the city of Wilmington will not continue to pursue building a stadium, Mayor Bill Saffo has said. ”It’s the people’s decision,” he said in August. “We abide by what the people’s wishes are.“
Pretty damning was a later part of the story discussing what Greensboro had done:
The Greensboro Grasshoppers, a Single-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, play in NewBridge Bank Park. The stadium, which opened in 2005, seats about 7,500 and was built to Double-A standards with private financing.
But again, the Chamber and Downtown Wilmington Inc. only have eyes for taxpayer dollars. One has to wonder if they would even support a privately funded stadium.
Prediction, a massive last minute spending spree to change voter’s minds will have to take place for this to even be close.Read full article » No Comments »
There is an interesting article here at the StarNews discussing the new natural gas plant. Buried in the middle of the story is the REAL story:
The utility’s conversion of coal plants to natural gas is the No. 1 reason it is seeking a 14.2 percent increase in residential rates, the company stated in a rate filing request last week.
Hmm. . Who does that hurt the most? Fixed incomes? The poor? Absolutely!
When the folks on the political left talk about “clean energy” they ultimately are wanting to get rid of cheap, abundant energy. They are also wanting to force the purchase of expensive energy and distort capitalism by artificially increasing energy costs. It always hurts the poor the most.
But this is how you move forward on getting to “greener” technology and away from abundantly cheap coal that can be burned cleanly.
So when we talk about a massive increase in utilities, it wasn’t because there was a need, it was because it was being forced. Truth is, regulations make power more expensive and that always hurts those who can least afford it and also businesses who must pay it.
Charles Lane has an excellent overview of this apparent contradiction here at the Washington Post.Read full article » 1 Comment »
Nobody in the media has put the pieces together, but the threat of massive new expenditures by everyone in this region are in process.
1) Property Taxes – The City of Wilmington had a 3.5-cent property tax increase this past year. Unfortunately nobody opposed it because they were busy fighting a $75m (including interest) baseball stadium which, if passed in Nov. referendum, will result in an additional 2.5-cent property tax increase.
2) Covanta/New Hanover County – The county currently has a waste tipping fee of $59/ton which is high and is attempting to reactivate their 80s style incinerator for tens of millions of dollars. The overall result will be at least a $90/ton rate (that could go higher). For perspective Mecklenburg County is at $29.50/ton, Johnston County is at $33/ton. Mass. is the state with the highest rate at $105.40/ton. New Hanover isn’t really paying attention. (StarNews here, Port City Daily here)
3) Progress Energy – The utility giant is considering a 14.2 increase in rates. That’s significant. They claim they haven’t had a rate increase since the 80s. The media forgets SB3 (Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard) which increased rates by 10% in 2007, but it wasn’t a rate increase, it was an unnecessary fee to buy expensive “renewable” energy from other states. (WWAY story here)
4) Home insurance – The Insurance Commission in NC is considering a 30% increase in homeowners insurance for coastal residents. Nope, not based on risk, but on historical data. The NC DOI has announced a public comment session on 10/17/12 at 9:30 AM. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or send them a tweet at @NCInsuranceDept. Coastal residents are clearly disturbed.
5) New Hanover School Board – They rolled out their $390m capital request as well. Geesh. . . It never ends! (StarNews here)
How much is too much?Read full article » No Comments »
“Today’s planners are attempting to solve problems not by eliminating previous zoning mistakes, but by creating even more complicated and restrictive land-use regulations.”
(Dr. Michael Sanera, John Locke Foundation; www.johnlocke.org; City and County Issue Guide 2011, p. 28).
The quote above by Dr. Sanera, JLF director of research and government studies, reminds me of a comment by the late President Ronald Reagan paraphrased: “Government is not the solution to problems, government is the problem.”
In a Wilmington StarNews report by Kevin Maurer, we learn of another problem created by the misguided meddling of government planners and their political supporters. Last year the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners passed a zoning amendment requiring special-use permits for industrial companies proposing to operate in this county. Some pro-business people consider the regulation a “red flag” for industries that consider moving here. In addition, something more insidious may be going on with this new rule. (link)
Jason Thompson, the sole dissenter on the Board, thinks that this is a concealed effort to “undo Titan America’s plans to build” a cement plant near Castle Hayne, N. C. It’s quite clear to many of us that, at least, this throws a bone to rabid radicals determined to continue harassing Carolinas Cement and stalling its plans—hoping it will give up and go away.
Most of the county commissioners voted to throw their political weight around. Mr. Maurer writes that the “idea is to allow the county—and the public…more control.” However, more government control results in negative consequences. The industries targeted will see this for what it is: another hurdle to their plans that will allow anti-industry activists more fora for their attacks. We’ve repeatedly witnessed this tactic by the Stop Titan Network over the past several years.
Dr. Sanera writes that “the zoning process is in reality a highly politicized process where those with power in the community often gain advantages at the expense of those who lack it.”
He thinks that land-use regulations “give too much discretion to planning staff, planning boards, and elected bodies.” This power, he writes, “provides opportunities for graft, corruption, and favoritism.” Sanera lists some “principles” necessary to reform harmful zoning regulations.
Of course, the problem remains: we have too many self-serving, unprincipled government officials raising red flags to expect regulatory reform.Read full article » No Comments »
Among downtown Wilmington advocates who promote taxing many for the benefit of a few, the StarNews Editorial Board (Robert Gruber and Tricia Vance) often use their OPINION page to that end. They want city voters to approve a $37 million bond debt and property tax increases for another “fun factor” (in editorial words)—a baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves. (link)
Editors describe this as “another amenity.” Many of us believe that this will be a pleasure for some, but an extravagance in the lives of most Wilmingtonians who have better uses for their money.
If approved, this downtown project will take wealth from residents and business owners; it will divert public funds that should more appropriately be spent on the City’s deteriorating infrastructure and crime problems; and it will compete unfairly with some existing businesses and baseball teams.
Editors refer to this as “a gift from the community to itself” and “an investment.” Please. Spare us more government “gifts” and “investments.” We can’t afford anymore handouts and risky ventures. This is a gift to Mandalay Baseball and highly speculative for taxpayers. Worse, it’s immoral.
City council members have abused their power by initiating and negotiating this fast-track project with little public input. In fact, they would have arbitrarily pushed along the scheme with Mandalay but for a large citizen protest that they could not ignore. City officials finally (and I think reluctantly) agreed to a vote on the issue.
Then, there are a number of selfish supporters that want government power-players to seize the wealth of fellow citizens to fund their pleasures. They won’t invest their own money in this venture, but they will likely show up at the polls in force to assure that others pay.
The downtown elite- and political-class show distain for the majority of Wilmington’s citizenry. If they win this one I predict that people who believe that they should have a personal choice of spending their money on function or fun will be scalped by the Braves—and their scalps will hang in the City Council lodge.Read full article » No Comments »