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.
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