If you'll remember, Neil presented himself as firmly in opposition to a publicly-funded baseball stadium. What is revealed an email? Neal's support for a publicly-funded baseball stadium.
You can't get much better than that.
In an email to some members of the commission today, Wilmington City Council Member Neil Anderson noted council members, commissioners and the prospective owners of the interested minor league baseball team are set to meet today. Anderson encouraged members of the commission to "be the better man in this relationship and make a gesture of greater/stronger support in their partnership on this once in a lifetime opportunity for our city, county, and region."Sounds like pretty strong support to me! Maybe Neil will be able to give us a great park downtown too to complete our economic development. That's what leads to flourishing cities, right? Parks and baseball stadiums?
The entire reason for Neil's email was apparently because some on the County Commission are cooling their support for the baseball stadium due to the satellite annexation the city performed last night. Aren't you glad that our local government is run like a high school?
In any case, this is the first in a long list of disappointments. As in any City Council meeting, there are a number of terrible things on the docket, and Neil voted for all of them.
- C3. The allocation of $25k for unspecified improvements to the Portia Mill Hines Park. Maybe Council got a description of the improvements to be done, but they're not in the supplemental material.
- C8. The awarding of a $200k contract to Alta/Greenways to develop our Greenway Plan. What is a "Greenway Plan?" Well, it's basically a document telling us where to put our bike paths and parks (can't have enough parks, can we?) Why can't city or county staff figure this stuff out? Beats me, but now we have Alta/Greenway making $200k to figure it out for us. Nevermind that $200k would pay the annual salary and benefits for about three members of the planning department.
The breakdown of the expenses is truly hilarious.
Task 1: Project Kick Off Meeting $5,560.00Yes, folks, it will cost them $5,560 to have a "Project Kick Off Meeting." These Alta people sure know how to party, but I suppose I would too, if I could do it on other people's money.
Task 2: Identify Opportunities and Constraints $46,000.00
Task 3: Public Involvement and Presentations $48,320.00
Task 4: Prepare the Draft Comprehensive Greenway Plan $50,760.00
Task 5: Develop and Present Final Plan $24,805.00
Task 6: Provide Final Report and Brochure $12,060.00
Subtotal Fees $187,505.00
Budget for Reimbursable Expenses $12,495.00
Total Fee and Expenses $200,000.00
Task 2 is a legitimate thing they have to do. In the description of Task 2, they say they'll have to review all of the local Land Use and Transportation plans, but if we had used City or County staff, presumably they'd be much more familiar with all of these documents! That's a big chunk of the $46k for Task 2.
To me, it seems like we just spent $200k to have a consultant tell us something we could easily figure out ourselves (that is, if you even think the project is necessary, which is in and of itself doubtful.)
- C18. We paid $23k to a contractor to "review and assess the development review process." Again, is this something we should be paying a contractor for? 9 out of 10 downtown business owners say doing business with Wilmington is more difficult than doing business with other cities, so we clearly do have a problem with the development process, but another contractor? This is something that City Council should get off their rump and do themselves.
- O4.a. We pushed back the completion date on the Bradley Creek Sidewalk Project from August 21, 2010 to October 21, 2012. That's over two years, folks. It's also going to cost more than $152k than anticipated because of "unanticipated drainage issues," blah, blah, blah.
Neil, you need principles. Remember what Thoreau said: "The best government is that which governs least." We're at such a precarious point in our economy we can't stand to have it crushed under more wasteful government spending.