FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Baseball petition comes up 14 signatures short; City will allow additional petitions to be entered

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Submitted: Sat, 06/09/2012 - 3:17am
Updated: Mon, 06/11/2012 - 12:32pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After reviewing all 3,903 signatures on a petition trying to stop tax payer money going toward a new ballpark in town, The New Hanover County Board of Elections says the group came up short… 14 signatures short, to be exact.

2,828 signatures were verified by the Board of Elections, just missing the mark at 2,842 needed to move the ordinance forward. New Hanover County Board of Elections Director Marvin McFadyen says the next move is up to the city.

City Attorney Bill Wolak says Wilmington will allow additional petitions to be entered for consideration. Wolak says there is no time limit for the petitions and once they are returned to the city clerk, the signatures will be turned into the Board of Elections for further analysis.

Ben McCoy and Josh Fulton, two men involved with circulating the petition, say as of Friday at 4 p.m., 73 additional signatures were turned into the city clerk. They were told the additions should be in the possession of the Board of Elections by Monday.


  • Vog46 says:

    Actually, it’s kinda funny reading the comments here.
    It’s VERY obvious that baseball is a popular sport. It’s good clean fun to play and family entertainment for those who want to watch.
    But it’s also equally obvious that this particular proposal is making people think twice about the proposed cost. The fact that Fulton/McCoy got the signatures so quickly indicates that the COST may trump the DESIRE to have a Mil-A team here.
    By the way – they did get an ADDITIONAL 70+ votes within a day of finding out the Board of Elections said they were 4 short. Again, this shows the vehemence the voters have against using tax dollars for this.
    I was at a church gathering yesterday and the adults were talking about a variety of subjects when this ball park proposal came up. Interesting that NONE of adults at this gathering had even heard of the petition but that many of them had a desire to sign the petition. This was an estimated 20 out of 25 people – all registered Wilmington voters. Myself, my wife and 2 adult kids (all registered voters) would have signed it as well.
    Yet, we attend our grand kids little league games and find baseball entertaining. They play heir games at city funded parks and church built facilities.
    But the conundrum is that this is little league. “Non-profit” fun. At fields that are part of much bigger “parks” offering other things for all city residents to enjoy.
    This proposal is geared towards a specific entity (the Atlanta Braves) that runs a for profit business. Property tax break? I’ve got no problem with an incentive like that. But I do have a problem with $24M in incentives for 70 days of home games with limited attendance that will dwindle over time.
    This is like window shopping. We all say that would be REAL NICE TO HAVE but after we look at the price tag we say OH BUT I’LL PASS ON THIS………

    Best Regards

  • Office Fan says:

    Ben and Josh had stated, I believe it was reported elsewhere, that these signatures turned in once they found out the petition came up short were collected since the petition was submitted for validation. They didn’t “mysteriously” come up with them out of thin air as you assumed, the signature collection continued after the validation process began for this very reason.

  • OhTheThingsIKnow says:

    This ridiculously irresponsible stadium nonsense once and for all. The city is already struggling to meet it’s financial obligations, the notion of this stadium was ludicrous. It’s the equivalent of an individual who’s struggling to come up with his mortgage payment out shopping for a new yacht.

  • Guest1313 says:

    Ok, they start with 4,000 signatures and over 1,100 of them don’t count because they either don’t live in Wilmington or they’re not registered voters. Now they mysteriously come up with 73 more signatures in a day. First off, if you had all of these signatures why not submit ALL of the signatures? Secondly, if so many people (as they claim) don’t want this stadium and team then they shouldn’t have had a problem collecting signatures. Political FAILURES

  • memaw88 says:

    Well the next time there is an election, the canidates that lose need to ask for more time to get more voters so they can win. Only fair. We need something to for people to come see, and bring MONEY into the city and county and businesses

  • bill says:

    ben and josh have my blessings seems they have more sense than most of the people posting on here ! the petition is just to get it on the ballot and believe me you money wasters will lose that one !!!! we have plenty of baseball in wilmington just not enough fans to justify more . all we will do is put more money in the pockets of the fat cats . my family doesn`t go out in public much because of all the rude people in wilmington and the high cost of entertainment that is ALWAYS overpriced ! people are hurting in wilmington do we really need to pay for a ball park ? i don`t think so!

  • ChefnSurf says:

    I really can’t imagine why anyone at this point would be against putting this issue on the ballot and ending the debate.

    Both sides feel they have the majority opinion. Both sides would have to agree that a referendum is the only fair way for all of the citizens to have a democratic input into the process.

    The only reason I can think of for anyone not wanting to put the issue to a vote is if someone actually doesn’t believe they have a majority opinion but want their opion to prevail regardless.

    I’ve never been a big fan of the “Damn the democracy, full speed ahead” approach to government. Hopefully, others feel likewise.

  • “True strength lies not with he who casts the vote but rather with he who counts the vote.” Josef Stalin

  • Scooter says:

    Incredible. First reference to Stalin took less than 30 minutes.

    What’s the over/under on the Hitler reference? 2 hours sound about right?

    You are some seriously damaged folks, fighting against our cities future.

  • Terry S says:

    how long will they keep distracting and wasting government resources and taxpayer dollars on their personal promotional campaign? To obstruct what the vast majority of area residents have said will make Wilmington a better place is one thing, but to continue with this debacle and it’s very unfortunate consequences is quite another….surely they have better judgement than that

  • Guest? says:

    guess the county is pretty strong, then, considering the board of elections is part of the county…

  • Wilmington4Life says:

    Now what?

    My opinion? No backsies. No do overs. No addendums. Game over.

    If you keep on letting any petitioners add additional signatures they could hold up any legislation infinitely, just by requesting additional time. It’s not Wilmington’s fault you submitted it too early.

  • 1981duke says:

    14 short of needed so does this kill petition for election via referendim?

  • Shaun O'Rourke says:

    They have until August 1st to get 14 more signatures. This shouldn’t be hard to do.

  • Guest-of-the-day says:

    I’m commenting on another, more detailed article on the WCET web site… if a guy named Rick Santorum signed the petition, is he automatically excluded because he happens to have the same name as a prominent republican who has run for office? Are they assuming that they are one and the same or what?

  • Guest1111111111 says:

    maybe you should read that article again?

    it was signed “rick (explitive deleted) santorum” Resident of PA, but lived in Wilmington for 14 year. Not a real signature.

  • Guest? says:

    No they are assuming he is not a registered voter in New Hanover County since his name is not listed with the board of elections.

  • Guest11111111 says:

    I doubt they can add to it. Otherwise whats the point of the petition and validation?

    I could submit an ordinance and keep adding to it over 1 year. Eventually over 1 year I’d get it. Unless I was a sloth.

  • Danimal says:

    Play Ball. If they are short, they are short. Deal with it like Mooch does

  • Castronomics says:

    It should be illegal to allow them to add more signatures. If they came ul short tuff luck beter luck next time. I hooe tge City of Wilmington stands by the legalities of a failed petition.

  • Hanging Chad says:

    Play ball people! They should bury that stupid petition under home plate. Stadium equals jobs and a drunken Mooch. Seems like a no brainer to me!

  • Vog46 says:

    This makes it easy.
    The city allows for more comments forcing a vote.
    Voters are willing to PAY for the vote(because they signed the petition for the special vote)
    Whichever way it goes all the politicians can wash their hands and say it’s the voters will.
    Typical pass the buck politicians.
    I wish they’d just say “can’t afford it” and be done with it. Or conversely say we’re doing it.

    But allowing he petition absolves them of any responsibility and makes the stadium vote a moot political point that can’t hurt their re-election campaigns.

    Bless their little hearts…….

    Best Regards

  • Vog46 says:

    One thing I have noticed on the amendment/petition rules is that it does not address the adding of more signatures it only mentions that the petition itself (or amendment) cannot be modified.
    An example:
    This petition prevents the city from using taxpayer funds for any sports entities.

    This petition prevents the city from using taxpayer funds for this sports entity.

    This is the SUBJECT of the petition/amendment and they are different. This is what the rule addresses. These are 2 separate petitions.
    I would not be surprised to see a wave of additional signings. Remember signing has to be done in person as opposed to a survey which could be done online. This is what concerns the powers that be. There was an effort made to OPPOSE this and it was done quickly. But the survey DID show that although baseball is very popular – fiscal responsibility trumps a desire to have a team here. The survey respondents were very clear they wanted little to no taxpayer funds used. The survey results and the speed at which the petition garnered the signatures tells the city that funding is the key issue here.

    The room tax for the convention center was a little different in that city taxpayers weren’t affected it was the “outsiders” and the visitors who were. This particular stadium tax though is on the residents and is therefore looked at a little closer.
    Residents vote – visitors don’t……
    That’s the REAL reason the city is allowing for more time.
    Best Regards

  • LancasterG says:

    To be considered, a petition shall be complete in all respects at the time of filing and no
    additions, corrections, revisions or other amendments shall be allowed subsequent to the
    filing deadline. The filing deadline shall be the designated time at least forty-eight (48)
    hours prior to the properly advertised date and time of the first scheduled public hearing
    and any tabling, continuance, postponement or other delay does not extend the filing

  • Office Fan says:

    I am not an attorney, but it would seem to me the Petition is not officially considered filed until all signatures are checked and verified at which time it would be complete. It was *PRESENTED* to the City Council but it would not be *FILED* until the verification process was done. Since the deadline has not passed, I see no reason that the remaining signatures could not be obtained and added to the petition.

  • bjones says:

    I think it is only fair and equitable to give the city it’s due. The petition falls a few votes short but it is quite obvious that the financing is a divisive issue among city residents and non residents who write letters or sign petitions. I fall among the non city residents who believe in the concept but not in the financing. Having said that, the city is to be commended for having the city attorney, not a politician, saying they would extend the petition time. That shows to me a sense of fair play on the city’s part and while we can disagree, I think most of us have what is in the areas best interest at heart. While don’t we all stop, take a breather, and let things unfold at the will of the people.

  • FedUpWIthTheLiars says:

    The problem with that is there are a few saboteurs at play here, namely Ben McCoy and Joshua Fulton, who do NOT have the city’s best interest at heart.

    They are both failed politicians spitefully doing whatever they can to prevent Wilmington’s growtth. They have long-ago abandoned any pretense of looking out for the city or it’s residents, and are doing nothing more than grinding their axes against the people who refused to vote them into office.

    So many people are so fed up with government that they would sign ANYTHING if you told them it was a strike against the politicians in office. They were nothing more than brainless sheep being led out to pasture, and now we will all pay the price. Ben and his cronies may have ensured we remain Myrtle Beach’s little b**ch for the next 30 years.

    We won’t forget this. We will never forget what you have done to our city.

  • Guest2020 says:

    “vast majority of area residents have said will make Wilmington a better place”

    Where are you getting your information?

  • Guest CommonTater says:

    The overwhelming majority was the 970 that were polled by the pro-baseball group. Now we have how many signatures against tax money being used? That alone is way more of a “vast majority” if you look at it in any sane manner.

    These “I want my baseball” folks act like spoiled brats regarding this. Let the people speak! If the “vast majority” wants it then it will be done. Until that is proven the likes of Terry S are just blowing smoke.

  • Terry S says:

    Now in two consecutive and most recent surveys of Wilmington area residents – StarNews AND NSS – over 70% stated that the stadium would make Wilmington a better place. Two different surveys with two different designs from two different sources and both come up with the same answer….it seems pretty clear to me unless of course you’re not interested in facts and are in complete denial or, like Ben and Josh, not interested in facts, are in complete denial and also have your own personal political self-interests as the only important consideration…..

  • player and poet says:

    the baseball stadium won’t get the ax so quit your whining and just pay the tax.
    when you’re drinking a beer and watching the game you will be sorry that you signed your name.
    Baseball is fun, its a family affair, so get a box seat and hangout with the mayor!

  • guesty says:

    Hang out with the mayor?? No thanks, it would take too long to wash that funk off.

  • ChefnSurf says:

    As you sit in the bleachers drinking ten dollar beers
    take a look skyward and see what appears.
    Why it’s $affo and cronies in their own private box!
    And while you’ve got just hot dogs
    they’ve got bagels and lox.

    Now Mandalay’s paying for all that they’ve got
    (It’s all air-conditioned in case it gets hot).
    Champaign corks are raining on bleachers below
    (They’re not the ones paying,
    no need to drink slow).

    So the Braves will make money as will Mandaly
    just not the taxpayers at the end of the day.
    So throw out the first pitch and let ‘em play ball.
    No need for a vote on the issue at all …..
    ‘cause only taxpayers are taking the fall!

  • Ben McCoy says:


    Don’t forget it. Write it down. Get a tattoo that states how mad you are that the people of Wilmington don’t want to be taxed to death for the next 30 yrs to buy you a toy. I am so sick of you and your two friends melodramatic whining on these forums – but when it comes down to it, none of you back up your ridiculous threats and comments in person. You think that sitting anonymously behind a keyboard makes you the world’s toughest badass – and that’s pretty pathetic. I will issue the same challenge to you as I have your friends. Let’s debate the issue in a public forum in front of the city and the media. I will gladly debate you on this issue. I am sick and tired of your lies about some political vendetta I supposedly have. How is trying to save taxpayer money “lashing out” at the public? This issue has brought the public together, and I have been proud to be a part of that. It is the voters who elect people to office, and I don’t give a damn that they didn’t vote me in. I have no problem with your opinion on the stadium – doesn’t bother me at all. But quit being a little b***h and lying about people you have no clue about anonymously on the internet.

  • Guest 10101 says:

    You want to out-Myrtle-Beach Myrtle Beach? Why? I think it’s nicer here.

    Concerning McCoy and Fulton. You’re being ridiculous. They’re not out to spite the city, they just have a different opinion than you. Some people would say Saffo and council “have long-ago abandoned any pretense of looking out for the city or it’s residents”. I’m sure you’d disagree. Does that mean you’re being spiteful? There’s a whole bunch of people on both sides of this issue.

    Stop with the “never forget” threat stuff. Agree to disagree. Keep in mind, if you make threats like an idiot, you’re probably an idiot. I suspect you’re probably not, so don’t act like one.

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