WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME OF MY OWN PERSONAL OPINIONS — SCOTT PICKEY / WWAY NEWS DIRECTOR
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – There’s no doubt about it, you’ll never have to guess what New Hanover County Commissioner Jason Thompson means when he speaks. He’s very straightforward, shoots from the hip, and sometimes makes our jobs fun with his spicy comments.
This week was no exception. County Commissioners have been questioned by many local media outlets on why they chose to spend $36,000 to have someone from out of state come in this week to help facilitate their annual two-day workshop where they got the chance to play with Tinkertoys.
When asked about being in the media spotlight of late and the commission being transparent, Thompson told the local newspaper, “They are whoring themselves out for ratings.”
That’s been one of Thompson’s standard responses when asked about recent coverage of spending choices commissioners have made of late — they’re just doing it for ratings. He’s also quick to glibly reply that if people don’t like the job he’s doing, they can just “fire him.”
This is the same commissioner who called me out personally a few months back when we asked why he, as chairman, chose to give the USS Gravely Commissioning group $25,000 to help host a party for a ship that was coming to Wilmington with or without the money. He said I, and the TV station, were “ignorant” if we didn’t see the value of spending that tax money on entertaining sailors and VIP’s.
This is the same commissioner that, when faced with a budget shortfall in 2010, chose to hold Airlie Gardens and Cape Fear Community College’s new Union Station building hostage unless voters approved a new tax.
Yet he doesn’t mind spending $25,000 here for a party and $36,000 there on a two-day meeting, when now taxes are higher, the county has been freezing jobs and taking furlough days, and county workers have gone months without seeing a pay increase.
And let’s not forget that this is the same county commissioner that “invited” Leland Mayor Walter Futch out into the parking lot during a committee meeting to discuss comments Futch had made during a prior meeting. The invitation, Thompson said, was so they could settle the dispute like men. But then Thompson backed up a bit, saying he’s recently gotten good with God, and WOULD HAVE invited Futch out, but was a changed man. But then he makes the invitation formal again, or said Futch could sit there and “wet his Huggies.”
One major detail Thompson seems to be in the dark about is TV ratings. First, there are only four formal “ratings periods” for TV stations across the country. They happen in February, May, July and November, so Mr. Thompson, we’re not even IN a ratings period.
Second, WWAY doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen Ratings books anymore. We don’t even know WHAT are our ratings are.