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LELAND, NC (WWAY) — While he has no interest finding out if allegations of misconduct and corruption within his police department are true, Leland Mayor Walter Futch has found time to ask the US Department of Transportation to investigate allegations of conspiracy against area political leaders.

Futch sent the letter, dated July 29, to the Inspector General at the US Department of Transportation. It’s lengthy and filled with complaints and accusations of corruption against New Hanover County Commissioners Jonathan Barfield and Jason Thompson, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and Brunswick County Commissioner Bill Sue. All sit or used to belong to the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, the group discussing whether to build the Cape Fear Skyway Bridge.


“Mayor Futch must believe that because he writes a sentence and puts it on paper that therefore it’s true,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, I don’t see anything in here that resembles the truth, and I don’t think the inspector general will either.”

Futch says there are conflicts of interest because some members of the WMPO own property that would be impacted by the road projects. He contends that Sue stands to gain $2 million when his property is condemned for another construction project. When we called him, Sue just laughed and said, “No comment.”

Futch also claims Thompson’s business is adjacent to the proposed path of the Skyway Bridge.

“He’s been making that accusation for a year, year and a half,” Thompson said. “The reality is there’s 40 acres of land between where I am and Independence Blvd. where the Skyway Bridge is supposed to go, so I’m not adjacent to it. I’m separated by 40 or 50 acres.”

Futch also contends Saffo owns property located in the selected corridor. Saffo is quick to point out the project has been discussed since 1993, and as of now, a site has not even been selected.

“It’s so below the belt I can’t even believe it’s been shared with us,” Saffo said. “I have recused myself from any kind of vote on this side of the river. I will always be a supporter of the Skyway Project, because we desperately need another crossing of the Cape Fear River.”

Some other accusations include Futch being denied his First Amendment right of free speech during the meetings and members conspiring to select a preservation corridor through Leland for the proposed Skyway without consulting him. That last accusation has Mayor Saffo fired up. He says Futch is the one who held a private meeting with the developers of Brunswick Forest to discuss moving the Skyway Project Corridor, and later, at a public meeting with Futch in attendance, Saffo says he revealed his frustrations over whether to protect an easement on Wilmington’s side of the river.

“I wanted to find out, first of all, if the property owners on the other side of the river were going to be willing to support any kind of realignment through their properties, because what I could gather is Brunswick Forest was calling the shots over there in regards to the thoroughfare through their development,” Saffo said.

It’s also interesting to note that Mayor Futch took the time to fire off this letter to Washington, accusing others of wrongdoing, but has yet to come forward and address allegations of corruption within his own police department.

“I think he needs to pull his head out of the sand and quit writing letters to the Inspector General about everybody else who’s doing a good job in this community and worry about his own police force and his own board,” Thompson said. “Maybe that would be better-served time for him.”

We’ve tried for weeks to get Futch to talk with us about the police department, yet he consistently refers us to the town manager. He also didn’t call us back for this story.

We did speak with Barfied, who told us he wouldn’t dignify the accusations with a comment. As for why Mayor Futch would send this to the federal government and not the North Carolina DOT, Barfield says no one is taking Futch seriously on the state level, which is why he sent the letter to the feds.

We obtained an e-mail from Leland Town Councilwoman Pat Batleman that confirms the DOT Inspector General received Futch’s complaint and will direct an inquiry. Futch resigned from the WMPO Board last month. Batleman took his place.

Comment on this Story

  • guesty

    Sometimes I’m a little too harsh with my wording and WWAY won’t put up a post. I think it has been rejected because I see others show up that were sent in after mine. So I tone it down a little and try again. Same thing happens so I cut it back even more and the next thing you know all 3 show up. It really doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ll play along because I like their site.

  • Guest20

    At least your posts finally came through. I have written several posts that never made it.

  • Jeremy Smith

    It is not a strong dislike, it is the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. You keep saying adding lanes to the 17-74-76-133, can you name one place where they have continuously increased a highway lanes and it improved traffic congestion? The answer is no. All this does is increase speed and put more traffic in one area. The answer lies in alternative routes.

    As far as the Village Road issue, perhaps you should speak to Futch and ask him why he ignored both the Lawrence Group recommendations and the Transportation Planner’s advice that your tax payer money paid for. What is there now does not match what these plans called for and do you know why? Mostly because Futch wanted to prove he knew more. He could have worked with them or presented them with expert engineering advice but he chose not to. He decided. He even alienated his own Council Members on a lot of these issues. Maybe Futch should have focused more on Leland’s economy. If Leland had more to offer you wouldn’t need to go across the bridge so much. Perhaps everyone should remember that “No man is an island entire of itself”- meaning in its very simplest and most prosaic sense it means we all depend on one another and in a way all our actions affect others.
    There is no shortage of hard data that increasing highways does not work. A recent University of California at Berkeley study covering thirty California counties between 1973 and 1990 found that, for every 10 percent increase in roadway capacity, traffic increased 9 percent within four years’ time. For anecdotal evidence; one need only look at commuting patterns in those cities with expensive new highway systems. USA Today published the following report on Atlanta: “For years, Atlanta tried to ward off traffic problems by building more miles of highways per capita than any other urban area except Kansas City…As a result of the area’s sprawl, Atlantans now drive an average of 35 miles a day, more than residents of any other city.”• This phenomenon, which is now well known to those members of the transportation industry who wish to acknowledge it, has come to be called induced traffic.
    The mechanism at work behind induced traffic is elegantly explained by an aphorism gaining popularity among traffic engineers: “Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt.” Increased traffic capacity makes longer commutes less burdensome, and as a result, people are willing to live farther and farther from their workplace. As increasing numbers of people make similar decisions, the long-distance commute grows as crowded as the inner city, commuters clamor for additional lanes, and the cycle repeats itself. This problem is compounded by the hierarchical organization of the new roadways, which concentrate through traffic on as few streets as possible.
    If traffic is to be discussed responsibly, it must first be made clear that the level of traffic which drivers experience daily and which they bemoan so vehemently is only as high as they are willing to countenance. If it were not, they would adjust their behavior and move, carpool, take transit, or just stay at home, as some choose to do. How crowded a roadway is at any given moment represents a condition of equilibrium between people’s desire to drive and their reluctance to fight traffic. Because people are willing to suffer inordinately in traffic before seeking alternatives–other than clamoring for more highways–the state of equilibrium of all busy roads is to have stop-and-go traffic. The question is not how many lanes must be built to ease congestion but how many lanes of congestion would you want? Do you favor four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour, or sixteen?
    New Lanes Are Not the Answer: Avoiding Traffic Congestion Through Transportation Choices and Sound Planning Is. It is time for the leaders in Leland to stop practicing politics and get down to the business of governing. That is the real answer!

  • guesty

    He said he was watching traffic while school was in session, so that makes it a weekday.

  • guesty

    If you had ever held a job higher than a fry cook you would understand most companies pay by direct deposit. But you wouldn’t know that.

  • guesty

    I have edited what this said because I sent it in on Friday but WWAY sat on posting it. That is why there are 3 posts from me.

  • Guest99x

    Commonsense for EMPEROR! It won’t be perfect, but it will be a far cry better than what our local politics has degenerated to.

  • guesty

    I have edited what this said because I sent it in on Friday but WWAY sat on posting it. That is why there are 3 posts from me.

  • guesty

    Since he first said it was a weekend, he then changed it to a Friday that he was just sitting watching cars. He added that school was in session so that would mean it is during the morning to early afternoon. That would make it a weekday.

  • Juan

    Everyday is a weekend for you because I know you get a check with your dumb @@@ replys on here! Your check is in the mail it is the I’m sure you know that!!!!

  • Jeremy Smith

    Actually Websters Definition of WEEKEND is the end of the week; specifically : the period between the close of one work or school week and the start of the next. So it depends on what time on Friday.

  • Jeremy Smith

    Thank you, you just proved my point with your exquisite post.

  • carter

    Bullying is where the source of all dysfunction can be traced to one individual. Definition of dysfunction-The Town of Leland.

  • Jeremy Smith

    Here are the facts for all the ignorant people in Leland who buy every word Futch says.
    Have you looked for yourselves? Do you even understand what you are looking at? Or are you writing and spouting the words Futch gives you just as he does when you speak at Council Meetings………….like no one can tell it’s Futch, please get real.

    Futch is as crooked as they come. Corruption in Leland is spelled F U T C H. He does illegal things behind the scenes and uses Farris as his hatchet man. Eventually it will all come to light. Those secret conversations between Futch and Farris will be known. Futch is yellow bellied and not a leader. A leader takes responsibility when things go wrong. Futch only thinks of his own political agenda. Do you really think he cares about all of us citizens? He is using this for his own gain because he has bigger dreams. He has nothing else to stand on. This is his way of political grandstanding to get you to vote for him in his future endeavors…………….County Commissioner or whatever. Ask yourself who knew about and signed the project documents for the Town of Leland? Who manipulates the Town of Leland’s Zoning Ordinance to get what he wants when he wants it or to prohibit projects he doesn’t like although they can actually do some good for town. Who takes things out of the administration codes policies or changes them to be so vague so he can have more power. Who had the Village Road Plans redrawn so that realignment could occur for their business? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black, doesn’t it?

    You question those that sit on the transportation committees when they are actually trained planners, engineers and others, yet you don’t question if the Dentist knows what he is talking about. Just because someone relentlessly reads to prove they can doesn’t really mean they are. Futch denies everyone who doesn’t agree with him their right to speak at every Town of Leland Council Meeting so what is he whining about.

    Yes Futch is opening his mouth and speaking for you “good ol boys”, so you think. The problem is that he is playing on your ignorance and fear and what is coming out is nothing but hot air. You know what they say about crap don’t you? You can either go through, walk around it or walk away from it. When it comes to Futch and his babbling the best thing just might be to walk away from it. Know this, all his antics will implode on him one day.

  • guesty

    From Guest buchelper: “I spent 2 weekends watchinging cars go by on Lincoln Rd..Two of those days were when school was in session.”

    What two weekend days was school in session?

  • Guesttoo

    The only “fact” that I see in your post is that you have a very strong dislike for the current Mayor. Don’t let this cloud your judgement of the real facts.

    I’ve asked before…how can anyone, in their right mind, say that four-laning Village Road should have greater priority than adding additional lanes to the 17-74-76-133 causeway? That is exactly what the Wilmington MPO TAC was saying. That sounds to me like…I’ll support your (Pie in the)Skyway Bridge if you’ll support my pet project.

  • Guestbuchelper

    You knew what I ment but you just didnt have anything else to say about it.It was a nice attempt at humor.And trust me. I was doing more than just watching traffic. But from my vantage point I could see it well enough to form an opinion about it.

  • guesty

    Don’t worry about my occupation or time. Just know that it is spent doing much more valuable things than sitting watching traffic. Anyway, a Friday is still a weekday no matter how you slice it.

  • Guestbuchelper

    Wow! Thats all you got ??What a waste of your valuable time. I was talking about two fridays. If you ever held a job you would know what a 3 day weekend was !!

  • Guesteast la

    Thank you for calling Leland residents ignorant Mr. Smarty Pants! We bow to your super intellegence !Ya Dumba@@ !!

  • kblue2221984

    Great post! good for you! Bravo!!! Let’s keep the FACTS coming people! Say’s who? Say’s Kblue!

  • Guest buchelper

    I spent 2 weekends watchinging cars go by on Lincoln Rd..Two of those days were when school was in session. Traffic was light each day. So whoever ran around Leland telling everyone that there was a study done to count traffic and we need this 4 lane highway through this quiet neighborhood,was either misleading the people or he believed someone who cant count !!Or it could be both !!

  • Fed Up…

    Futch is right about the WMPO. Bill Sue laughs, but he and EG Dale have been cooking up this deal for over a decade. If you don’t believe it, then go to the DOT and see the FINAL plans for the Village Road Phase II project, especially around the Lincoln Road area and see who owns the properties that will be seized via eminent domain, and recent purchases of property along that route. Improvements have been done to these properties over the last few years, because Sue and Dale knew the road was going through there. Sue didn’t even have the nerve to go tell the people affected along the route. He just ridiculed them on TV news. Fact is that Dale and Sue own millions worth of property along Village & Lincoln Roads, and didn’t give a rat’s rear end who they had to throw out to get their millions. Then Sue pretends that he doesn’t have a conflict of interest. What a laugh. Luckily, a few good citizens took this matter to the legislature and got it put on the back burner for a long time.

    As for Jason Thompson, he has a habit of trying to be the schoolyard bully by challenging other elected area leaders, that don’t fall into his prescribed line, to fights in the parking lot. Thompson might want to be careful who he challenges to fight. He might get more than he bargains for. Bullies always get their come-uppins’ eventually.

    Saffo is nothing more than a wanna-be gangster. I’ve sat in on these meetings, and they outright bullied Mayor Futch. Like with Sue and his conflicts of interest, follow the property and money to see who benefits from the Skyway corridor project. Politicians are getting paid, folks. Residents are getting screwed.

    Wise up Cape Fear voters… This bunch doesn’t have your best interest at heart, just their own pocketbooks.

    The feds should have a field day investigating this crowd.

  • Guest6

    Bring on the investigation. The whole TAC process is a joke and a scam. What do a bunch of politicians/land owners know about traffic anyway? Why are these people deciding what’s best for traffic? Oh, that’s right, they only have personal financial gain in their interest. When is the general public going to figure this out? Every time someone speaks out against the good ‘ol boys network, they are attacked and smeared…..IT”S TIME FOR A CHANGE IN THE PROCESS! We need real projects that solve real traffic issues.

  • Guest west la

    What facts did I get wrong? All I said was it was his land. Same thing you said. Amd you dont know me or where I went to school. But your meaness shows your mental state I guess.Wilmington is just jealous that everyone wants to live over here now.I dont even have to cross the bridge if I dont want to.And when I di I enjoy the views of lovely Dawson Street.

  • Guest1313

    I like how half of your argument is how Jason Thompson dresses. Maybe the man works for a living and doesn’t get the luxury of trying to hide his government problems by making accusations. Before we start blaming others and pointing out their problems and how they benefit, let’s fix your own problems. Not to mention that Thompson has had that land since before he ran for office and this project was already on the drawing boards.
    And Jason represents New Hanover County, not “Wilmingtom.” But I guess that’s how you spell it with a Brunswick County education. You stay on your side of the river and out of politics….it takes an educated argument for that to be successful

  • Guest211


  • Guest west LA

    If Thompson thinks we are too stupid to realize that even if there are 40 some acres between his land and the skybridge right of way, his property value will still go up then shame on him ! And how come every time he is on TV he looks like he just stepped off a beet farm? Dress the part dude. Have some pride. You are representing Wilmingtom ! Or maybe you are just representing yourself.

  • Citizen of the Republic

    I believe I heard Mr. Saffo say, “Brunswick Forest is calling the shots on that side of the river”.

    That’s interesting, when you speak with DOT, the last leg of the proposed Skyway hasn’t been considered yet, or is so vague, it could be built in Florida.

    This project stinks to high heaven.

    It’s amazing that we have “repairs and painting” on the memorial bridge, at the same time 3rd street is being gutted, and paving the road at the foot of Isabella Holmes bridge.

    I don’t think you could plan any better, a logistical nightmare, where all traffic is affected by projects that frustrate drivers with slow, lengthy delays.

    Throw in a couple of marathons, and your guaranteeing gridlock.

    Kinda makes everyone desperately need another bridge, doesn’t it?

    I don’t know if Futch’s accusations are true or not. I hope not. But we just saw a tire plant end up in SC due to the fact that Beverly Perdue and contributors were set to prosper under a sweetheart land deal.

    The skyway bridge will be a toll road. $7 dollars one way?

    Good luck with that.

  • Guest28451

    I guess Mayor Futch is not interested in the good old boy network in this area.
    People don’t like it around here when you open your mouth and speak up.
    We need more honesty and integrity in this area.

  • Jean Sidbury

    GO FUTCH! I feel the same way…..something fishy here..stinks to high Heaven…Sue can laugh all he wants to..those that live here and silently watch have seen…..

  • Guest2020

    What is it they say about cleaning out your own backyard?

  • Guestcarolina1

    Its about time someone looked into this. I felt it was true all along. For someone to go along with destroying the homes of widows,elderly folks, and people who have lived in the path of this 4 land highway for their own financial gain is wrong. And for them to tell people they knew nothing about the true path of the road was underhanded. It does not seem to me a “religious” person should treat people this way !

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