Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Gravely Chronicles Part III: Spin Baby, SPIN!

The saga continues.

The Star News finally released their contribution toward the USS Gravely local funding fiasco on Tuesday.

In the aftermath of the USS Gravely commissioning, several folks are still trying to get a total accounting of what our $50,000 was used for. The Star News received a vague report regarding some of the expenses:
About $25,000 for a fireworks show. More than $15,000 for transportation expenses. Another $2,000 to give hungry sailors their first taste of North Carolina barbecue.
Originally estimated at three weeks for a full report, the Gravely committee has revised their timeline:
Scheu said he expects the committee will provide local governments and the media with an accounting of the taxpayer funds later this week.
Again, there are several key factors apparent in this issue. First, the Chairwoman of the Gravely Committee is Louise McColl, campaign manager to both Mayor Saffo and Chairman Thompson. It was McColl who received the taxpayer money for the committee from both the city and the county.
...government critic Ben McCoy, points out that commissioning co-chairwoman Louise McColl is politically connected and has managed election campaigns for Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and New Hanover County Chairman Jason Thompson.
"It wasn't long ago we had both governments on hands and knees begging us for more money," McCoy said. "A couple of months later, the boss walks into the room and says: ‘I need $50,000' and it's no problem."
McColl did not return calls for comment.
According to the Star News, local officials have stated that citizens critical of the political implications of this maneuver are "missing the big picture".
They say the event was historic for the Navy and Wilmington, showed the area's support for the military and generated tourism revenue and good will for the Port City.
Those benefits are well worth the $50,000 cost, officials say.
First of all, it is a known fact that the US Navy had chosen Wilmington for their location to commission the Gravely regardless of Louise McColl's ability to use her underlings in power to rob the taxpayers of $50,000. They were coming here anyway, which negates any argument for the money being spent in the first place. Second, the Navy operates on federal taxpayer money - I'm sure that they are quite accustomed to paying for the expenses of their sailors without being subsidized by local taxpayers wherever they port at any given time.

Jason Thompson, known for his charming wit and razor sharp intellect, had this to say:
"The people who can't see that are shortsighted with ignorance and spite and can't look at the common good,"
Ignorance. Spite. Can't look at the common good. These are qualities that your elected official bestows upon mere citizens begging at the gate for a little transparency from their all-powerful and superior government who governs from above, more learned and intelligent than the rest of us; we the peons - who know not what is best for even our own good.

The "common good" is a mantra of those big government types who wield power with an iron fist, and look down with disdain upon those whom they lord over with the politics of self-interest and personal consumption. This is the oligarchy; the chosen ones whose mere existence far surpass those of us who live to serve their wishes, who bask in their glory; who pine for their favor and charity; who beg at their table like dogs. Jason Thompson, ringleader to this elite establishment, and a legend in his own mind; scoffs down at you and I from his perch high above; warning us to cease any inquiry into their actions - for they are all for the common good; something that they have monopolized; and we know nothing about.
Thompson and Saffo say the local governments made money from the ceremony through sales and room-occupancy tax revenue, and that the high-profile event brings recognition to the area, boosting its reputation, attracting more tourists and bolstering the local economy in the future.
Thompson said the county calculated the estimated economic impact of the commissioning, which showed that the county will get a 21 percent return on investment for its contribution.
Who would dare challenge the power cabal with an argument like that? Never mind that increased revenue through room and sales taxes merely go directly to government, and in no way lessen the continued burden of taxpayers; and let's ignore the fact that terms like "bringing recognition to the area" and "attracting more tourists" cannot be measured, proven, or in any way ever tied to the $50,000 in taxpayer funds given to a political operative. We'll overlook the idea that this event "bolstering the local economy in the future" is a vague and baseless argument that will never be quantified, and is nothing more than feel-good lip service from governments who have made it their number one priority to deliver propaganda ahead of all other services. And when the county issues mathematical equations that show that the more taxpayer dollars are given away to non-essential functions, the better off we all are - you'll just have to trust them; since if you've been paying attention, you're already aware that they know what's in your best interest far better than you.
"Anytime I can give a dollar and get back two in real dollars, I would think the taxpayers would want to do that every time," he [Thompson] said.
Wow! Everything you ever thought you knew about money has been rendered obsolete. The great economists are all wrong. Financial experts have been put to shame. Jason Thompson has discovered a secret that no one has ever figured out. If you give Louise McColl one dollar, you get two dollars back in return! This is amazing! Why didn't he just say so in the first place? Hey - I've got an idea! Let's raise property taxes to 100% - give ALL of the money to McColl - we'll all be rich! What? Oh... you mean he completely fabricated that illusion to try and dissuade the public from investigating his little investment with our money? Whatever money generated in the economy was not because of our $50,000, given that they were coming here anyway? Shucks.
Scheu said the money donated by the city and county represented less than 25 percent of the total budget, with the rest of the money coming from private donations. The StarNews was one of about two dozen sponsors.
 So the total budget for "pub crawls", drinking binges, all-night partying, gluttony, and other economic development initiatives was over $200,000? That's got to be quite a lucrative venture for Ms. McColl. She is chairwoman after all - one can't just invest that much time and effort organizing keg deliveries and how many cheese balls to have made without being fairly compensated. I wonder if we'll ever know the truth about how much exactly that figure is? She did tell us at the last County Commissioner's meeting that no matter what, she's not going to stop bringing commissioning ceremonies here to Wilmington. Sort of a career planning move on her part.

Minus our $50,000 so generously given by our visionary leaders, the committee would have had over $150,000 in private donations to play with according to their figures. One would think that this would be quite enough money to set up a pretty serious bar tab. The ship contained 283 sailors - divide that by $150,000, and each sailor has an entertainment budget of a paltry $530.04. With the involuntary contribution of unemployed taxpayers facing foreclosure on their homes in many cases, that figure jumps to $706.71 per sailor. Now we're talkin'. Like my Grandfather always said, "If you can't get over 700 bucks in free money to party with over a weekend, there ain't no sense in joining the Navy".

Thanks Louise. And thank you Jason and Bill. Without your impeccable guidance and courageous leadership, that money may have been wasted on something stupid like public safety; thereby helping us move out of #97 of most crime-ridden cities in the US - on a list in which Los Angeles is #158. But at least now we understand that without taxpayer-funded pub crawls, our economy would be in the toilet.


  1. Find out how few regional or national news agencies picked up the Gravely story and you will know how this didn't help Wilmington's image in the least.

  2. Now did all the elected officials and their "guests" get to go on this pub crawl and eating parties courtesy of us? maybe it was a learning experience like the glorified begging trip to DC was.. so said Mr Sparks that was the champ of the eating and drinking extravaganza.

  3. Ms. McColl runs a PR / Event Planning business. There is no way she did this out of the goodness of her heart. She made a "Boat-load" on this event!

  4. Event planning and begging for city money, what a great career. Maybe she should spend some of that money on her appearance and a weight loss program.

  5. WECT Francis Weller interview of McColl was a joke last night. Weller serves on the same planning committee with McColl for the annual Willie Stargel Celebrity Golf Tournament. Conflict of interest.

    That being said, I blame the City and County for blindly giving away $25K each to a party planner that was mostly a private event!

  6. Around here, it's not "Six Degrees of Seperation"...It's more like two.
    McColl >>> Local Govt...

  7. Yes I saw the sugar coated interview by one of the same. You thinnk they will break it all down as to where the 50K went? You think all the elected hacks partied for free on us?

    Give it a day and it will all be forgotten and brushed under the rug just like everything else is here in corrupt, crime ridden Wilmywood run by a group of corrupt clowns

  8. Call on Thompson to detail how he calculated the pay back on the "investment". Simply said the only direct pay back to the county comes from the county portion of sales tax that can be directly attributed to the commissioning and that would not have occurred without the county contribution LESS the amount of said sales tax that has to be paid to Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, and Carolina Beach. A primitive way to attempt to calculate it (although light years advanced from the WAG of 1.21) would be to determine sales tax for the period of the commissioning reveleries this year versus the same period from last year, less at least 75% to cover the amount that would have been stimulated by the private donations, less the payments to municipalities yielding a probable need for at least a county sales tax yield increase of $150,000 to meet break even criteria.

  9. Did Thompson ever tell you he was a marine?


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