Friday, May 28, 2010

Wilmington: Another "Economic Development" Board? Guess Who...

The City of Wilmington's proposed budget for fiscal 2010-11 is available on the city's website here. There are some interesting items in the budget, some of which cannot go ignored. A new unaccountable and mysterious so-called "economic development" agency has been formed called Cape Fear Future. The 47 member list reads like a roster of the city's elitist power brokers.

Among those members include Mayor Bill Saffo's campaign manager, Louise McColl, who is conspicuously featured at the head of the table in a position of power, in the photo above, which is from Cape Fear Future's website. The Mayor himself, is a member, and is featured in the photo to her right. McColl does not appear on any list as a leader in the organization, although the only picture of the group meeting clearly shows her to be in a position of influence and power.

Why does all of this matter? And what does this have to do with the city's proposed budget? The taxpayers of Wilmington are paying the way of this group, with an inaugural contribution of $20,000 in this year's proposed budget. An amount like that will slip through without a whimper, but one must acknowledge the convenience of having the Mayor's campaign manager in a position of power with the organization, and the group receiving taxpayer funding. A portion of the city's proposed budget reveals the funding on page 24:

City of Wilmington - Proposed Budget 2010-11 - General Gov. FUnds

Also noted in this budget are the other handouts given to agencies such as Wilmington Industrial Development, Wilmington Downtown Inc., and the Wilmington Film Commission. With unemployment in the city hovering around 11%, and the film industry a mere memory in the mind's of long-time Wilmingtonians, what in the world are the taxpayers receiving for their money?

We continue to fund these organizations, who conduct their business behind closed doors, completely unaccountable to the public, and who wield extraordinary power to influence decisions by our elected officials - and we see absolutely no benefit from this. We the taxpayer should have every right to audit the financials of these organizations that receive our money. It is time for fiscal responsibility, accountability, and transparency in this city.

Other articles on Cape Fear Future:
Cape Fear Future about attracting and keeping good workers
New chamber initiative gets creative
Local business leaders want input on New Hanover Co. Superintendent search
Cape Fear Future's visionary
Wilmingon 2.0 - An Update

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