Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wilm. City Council Uses Taxpayer Money to Prop Up NAACP; Assume Expenses for Building

The final city council meeting in September was certainly an eventful one. As reported earlier by The Wilmington Watcher, Louise McColl was able to score a chunk of taxpayer dollars for her coffers, but council wasn't through being generous, or doling out the goodies.

The Cape Fear Area Resource Center (CFARC) has been in a financial mess for some time now. Finally, when they couldn't hack it anymore, they came to the taxpayers of Wilmington for help. Since they were leasing a building from the City of Wilmington, they respectfully requested to have the lease terminated and all responsibilities thereof be terminated as well. Also requested, was that the city kick in $20,000 to assume the payments on their installed phone system. The ordinance passed unanimously; however, that's not the end of the story.

The local chapter of the NAACP, a well known political organization who holds political rallies, voter registration drives, etc.; holds space at the location as well. City Manager Sterling Cheatham seems to wrestle with the ethics of the agreement, and then rationalizes it in his proposal letter to the city council here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/38780224/CFARC-Proposal

On page 5 of the document, CFARC lists its revolving monthly expenses and other liabilities. Note how the monthly payment for the phone system is $572.00. If the $20,000 that the city is supposedly paying for the phone system is only really being used for such, that would cover the phones for 35 months. It seems unlikely that they would continue such an expensive phone system in a building that is being vacated; however, the NAACP is still there. Are these funds covering phone expenses for them as well?

City Manager Cheatham mentions in his proposal letter that the city is putting the building on their insurance, meaning of course that city taxpayers are liable. Since the NAACP occupies the building, it would stand to reason that the insurance covers their space as well.

Page 8 of the document is quite interesting. CFARC's list of conditions for the city vary quite far from the truncated version that Cheatham mentions in his letter to council. Among the conditions are that the city will continue to provide insurance coverage; protect CFARC, its board, and its members from any legal responsibility; pay CFARC $670.00 a month; and honor the lease agreement with the NAACP.

Based on everything provided, it seems that city taxpayers are being forced to fund operations for a left-wing political organization without such being disclosed in the final ordinance passed by the city council.  The ordinance merely says that the city will pay $20,000 for a phone system. Certainly there are more questions than answers; but using taxpayer money to fund political operations and organizations, either directly or indirectly is a crime.

Either way, CFARC is a publicly-funded organization, who is too close for comfort to the NAACP. CFARC's mission is to "build and operate a neighborhood based, one-stop campus with facilities to provide programs and services and access to services needed by the underserved population in Wilmington’s inner city"; does this also include political indoctrination, and activism?

Perhaps Mayor Saffo was so appreciative of being chosen as "Citizen of the Year" by CFARC, that he felt like using our money to show his thanks: http://www.greaterdiversity.com/index.php/gdn-news-resources-weekly-headlines/52-weekly-headlines/204-saffo-to-be-honored-as-citizen-of-the-year.html

Final ordinance passed by council: http://www.scribd.com/doc/38781529/CFARC-Ordinance

Monday, October 4, 2010

USS Gravely Exploited for Slush Fund; Political Payoff

It's a noble event. The USS Gravely, a Naval Guided Missile Destroyer named after the first African-American officer in the US Navy, is going to be commissioned in the Port City. However, as is typical with our quiet little town, no event involving our local elected officials is complete without ethics being challenged.

The Chair of the USS Gravely Commissioning Board is none other than Mayor Bill Saffo's own campaign manager, Louise McColl, who is also Councilwoman Kristi Tomey's campaign manager as well. McColl is also very active in local politics and sits on many so-called public boards and commissions. In order to properly "entertain" the crew and illuminaries that will be in town during the event, McColl figures she needs $50,000 to do it right - $25,000 from both the city and the county.

Being the campaign manager for the mayor certainly has its perks. McColl did not even have to submit paperwork on her own behalf for the request, as the mayor was more than happy to do it for her, as evident in the proposal here, where it begins, "This Resolution is being brought to you at the request of Mayor Saffo": http://www.scribd.com/doc/38704030/McColl-Proposal

Yes folks, it's good to be a political operative in the good graces of those who have the power to reach into the taxpayer's cookie jar and dole out whatever political favors they deem necessary at the moment. It's especially important to wrap such actions in phrases like "economic development", "tourism", and other feel-good terms that attempt to justify the expense.

The real crime here is that the citizens of Wilmington choose to not be engaged, and not hold their elected officials accountable for their actions. This sort of dealing is done everyday in downtown Wilmington, and the people who are affected by this, ignore it, and then later wonder why their taxes go up, their basic services are not provided for, and their local government is a joke. Worse yet, often they head to the polls on election day to re-elect the very ones who make political corruption a way of life for us all.