Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Free" Money for Downtown Wilmington "Lures" Total Prosperity...Again!

That's right folks. We are in a once in a lifetime position. The federal government has given Wilmington almost a quarter of a million dollars for "free"! All to patch up Riverfront Park in downtown.

The $247,500 grant is to be used for planning and executing downtown improvements, and was initially earmarked for turning the Thalian Hall parking lot into a park back in 2007. But according to downtown denizen-in-chief and president of WDI John Hinnant, those pesky citizens and their opposition thwarted that plan. This time, the downtown oligarchy will have their way, regardless of any mere wishes from the public. Groups in addition to WDI, including Cape Fear Future and the Chamber of Commerce have decided it's a good idea, and so far be it from the taxpayers of this city to have any say in the matter.

Interestingly, there is no new and enticing argument to garner public support (as if this was something that was of any concern). Downtown talking heads, as well as members of city council are still dragging out the same tired saw about "luring" and "attracting" downtown residents and visitors. Yawn. If I had a nickel for every time I heard this speech being presented as the end all be all to our economic woes - if only we spend a little more money on this development, or that convention center; I would probably have more money than the grant itself.

The new park is being promoted as the great economic savior to the downtown plight, as local leaders let us in on some of their plans, in this Star News article:

What the park will transform into is unclear. The city is open to ideas.
Anyway, at least this federal grant will take us into the great new dawn of economic prosperity:

Although $247,500 is a good start, it's unlikely to be enough to complete all phases of the project, which include park improvements at the Hilton and Coast Guard parking lots. Those phases are a ways off, too, considering the city doesn't own either space, Padgett said.
Well, maybe not. Unless of course we simply purchase the parking lots from the Hilton and Coast Guard! Problem solved!

Hinnant says that more parks downtown will spur development and bring more people to the downtown area. Councilwoman Laura Padgett said that private partnership with the city is critical in this initiative "if it's going to get the desired manicured parks and amenities that draw residents and businesses". After all the money we have wasted, starting with a $35.5 million bond in 2006 on parks and amenities, one would think that it's way past time for a new argument.

The Star News just recently reported that Wilmington-area unemployment continues to plague its citizens. After all of the taxpayer money that has been spent in the last two years on parks and developments and handouts, all because it will be just the thing to "lure" and "attract" businesses and people here; it looks like we still have nothing to show for it - other than taxpayer-held debt of course. Unemployment in the Wilmington area has been hovering at and around 10% for over two years.

The power cabal in City Hall spends most of its time figuring out how to spend more money on the downtown area - and they do a pretty damn good job of pulling it off. However, there's always one more milestone to pass before we finally hit the pot of gold at the end of the great big government rainbow.

The newest idea is that now we need a more downtown-focused marketing campaign. Yeah, that's it. Then those elusive businesses and people will surely come from all over then. Mayor Saffo put it this way, “It’s going to take either all those people coming together to try to identify what they want, or it’s going to take some individuals willing to set out there and bring all those stakeholders together,”.

See? They've got it all figured out. It makes perfect sense. Building a convention center, four parking decks, a huge wooden walkway along the entire riverfront, purchasing every bare piece of land, dozens of parks, subsidizing private development, streetscaping downtown streets, and all other forms of taxpayer-funded enterprise wasn't quite enough to "lure" those darn businesses and people - even though at the time, each one of those projects was "just the thing" that we needed for total economic prosperity, according to our visionary leaders and downtown elites.

But now, we are to forget about the mountains of taxpayer dollars poured into the great gaping pit of government-sponsored downtown central planning, and believe yet again, that these new initiatives are the magic bullet that will finally bring all of that feel-good, utopian happiness to our fair city. After all, this newest project is courtesy of the federal government! The leaders of downtown are so proud of themselves, finding federal money to spend on something; other than just local tax dollars; as if our local taxpayers do not pay federal taxes as well.

Oh, and please pay no attention to the dirty little details like, who will pay in the future once the federal dollars run out; or who will pay for ongoing maintenance and upkeep; or who will pay for additional manpower; or who will pay for new utilities and services; and so forth. Just keep repeating to yourself "free money!" and all of your troubles will go away. Keep reminding yourself what Saffo, Padgett, Hinnant, and the rest keep telling you - that if only we execute this latest taxpayer-funded plan, program, or development; it will be just what we need to "lure" and "attract" businesses and epople to downtown Wilmington!


  1. Just wanting to say thanks for defending Berger for collecting unemployment benefits in hard times. Sometimes, even able-bodied Americans just can't find work. I'm so grateful we had that safety net available for Berger in his time of need. Americans' willingness to support fellow citizens in need is what makes our country great, and I'm glad you agree.

    Thanks for fighting for the rights of the neediest among us, because there are jerks out there who would like to take their unemployment away.

  2. What a great article. I mean fantastic.

    I have started another conservative blog for the Port City Area. I have you on our blogroll. Thanks for all that you do.



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