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ONLY ON 3: DBA leaders tight lipped on misuse of public funds

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Downtown Business Alliance has three board members on a task force to help market Downtown Wilmington with the Bring It! Downtown campaign.

Last month, the group held a party to premier a promotional video of Downtown Wilmington and spent more than $1,000 of public money on alcohol, according to a member of a board overseeing the group.

WWAY attempted to get answers as to why public money was misused by leaders behind Bring It! Downtown during the Downtown Business Alliance's meeting Monday night. The organization’s board members in attendance refused to speak to us.

Tom Harris, owner of Front Street Brewery, said he thought DBA board members felt targeted by WWAY.

"They feel like you went on a witch hunt," Harris said.

Mayor Bill Saffo said Bring It! Downtown’s misuse of public money has been addressed.

"I think that when it was brought to the attention of the folks of Bring It! Downtown, they understood what the problem was and they felt like a significant mistake had been made, and they were willing to correct that. I don't think it was done maliciously. They just weren't used to this type of a process," Saffo said.

WWAY invited Harris to appear on our newscast Tuesday evening and talk about DBA. Harris declined saying he would be out of town.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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???

Did Saffron attend this event? Wouldn't he have been informed on where the monies came from for this Shindig?
Whooops! What was I thinking?
"They just weren't used to this type of a process," Saffo said. (Unquote)
That's kinda like..."Teacher...My dog ate my homework!"

With all the important news

With all the important news in our city,state, country and world, why is WWAY continuing to exhaust time and energy on this subject? There was a misunderstanding of procedures when using public funding. This was corrected. Time to move on folks. And for the constant whiners,and pessimistic people that have been posting on this story, how about stepping up to the plate and GET INVOLVED...maybe then you will get the desired results you all are seeking

"This was corrected" ......... No it wasn't !

A publication that was going to give free PR was paid for a free add so that in exchange it would pick up the bar tab that WWAY found about? And that really makes it all better? Really?

You must have some skin in the game. That's obscene!

"concerned citizen" ... Gotta wonder what you're really concerned about.

And....

This wasn't even an undercover Op either!

Video infinity

Saw the video. Great piece if the goal was to get more urban professionals living downtown. A total waste if it was to get more shoppers spending downtown. Artistically produced but a total flop from a marketing standpoint.

Keep wondering how they planned to get people to see the video. Best I can figure out is they planned to make another video to get people downtown to see the video telling them to see the "downtown" video.

I'm thinking the best way for people to see the video about getting people downtown to see the "downtown" video is to make another video telling people to get downtown to see the video telling people to go downtown to see the "downtown" video which tells people to go downtown. Ad infinitum.

No wonder these marketing genius' spent so much money on booze! They were about to get trapped in their own video marketing infinity loop. The only solution was to drink away their problem.

On a upbeat note: Very comforting to see Wilmington's "esteemed" Mayor reassure the proletariat that "a significant mistake had been made, and they were willing to correct that." My guess is, if they weren't "willing" to correct that, the Mayor would probably have spent yet aditional tax dollars on a poll to find out how the taxpayers felt about that before deciding to take no action anyway.

Nope Chef

"Keep wondering how they planned to get people to see the video. Best I can figure out is they planned to make another video to get people downtown to see the video telling them to see the "downtown" video.

I'm thinking the best way for people to see the video about getting people downtown to see the "downtown" video is to make another video telling people to get downtown to see the video telling people to go downtown to see the "downtown" video which tells people to go downtown. Ad infinitum."

Nope.
All they need to do is spend $85K per year on a NEW Wilmington Public access TV station and voila! Instant TV availability!
Promote down town - using public money for public access using private/public partnership marketing - for all 28 people viewing public access channels to see the beauty of this partnership.
It gives me chills just thinking about all those businesses wanting to come here as a result of this........
heh, heh,heh
Vog

BTW Mayor Saffo

Can you explain the doubling of Wilmington's debt under your leadership since you were first elected?
It's in the 2012 CAFR

Vog

Time for update

Murder, rape, stabbings, shootings, assaults, robberies, gangs, drugs, misuse of public money, lack of proper oversight by city council...
Bring It Downtown? No need, it is already here.

Of course they're tight lipped

They got caught spending monies in a public place with dubious intentions.
The Mayor wants to pass this off as a "mistake".
Good for him.
The ballpark was a mistake too.
Going after county funds for river front maintenance is a mistake as well.
Forced annexation was a mistake.
The convention center was mistake.

It's OK Bill, everyone makes mistakes.
But this small miscue is indicative of a much larger problem. The city has a hard time controlling its own expenses - but the problem gets much worse in these public/private "partnerships".
Oversight of them becomes fuzzy.
End all funding for failed marketing efforts - there is NO NEED for them.

This Mayor and Council need to be removed at the next election.

Vog

You make a good point Vog

end all funding for these business promotion groups, including the Wilmington Film Commission.

If there is that great a need for business or industry promotion, then have the city or county establish a group as part of the city or county administration.

Require a budget. Audit the budget and expenditures. Hold the individuals accountable as employees. Don't produce? Find new employment.

By the way, where is the City Councilwoman who blew the whistle on Hinnant when he used a corporate credit card for stogies and groceries? She should be leading the charge on this.

Huh?

"By the way, where is the City Councilwoman who blew the whistle on Hinnant when he used a corporate credit card for stogies and groceries? She should be leading the charge on this."

Heck Tom - where's the financial statements of both WDI and DBA?
I don't recall which council member turned Hinnant in (Was it Padgett?).
The entire council should be outraged by this.
We get nary a whimper!
Empty storefronts down town?
Not a worry by anyone on Council!
Why is it that everything associated with down town seems to have to include booze?
PART of the reason is that bars can "fit" into historic buildings with little alteration, making them good for historical preservation.
The other part is that we see economic development as "city advertising" and as such take on the "Mad Men" concept of selling through booze, golf gratuitous sex etc.....
Yet, most ad people I know could care less about that but are creative "nut cases" ( and I say that with much admiration) who think outside the "bottle" and promote using unique advertising concepts.
The city should be selling itself. We are in a growing part of NC - we have river front on one side, and the Atlantic on the other.
Good God is it that hard?
Or have we done such irreparable harm to our reputation that we need groups like DBA and WDI?

If we donate to their funding, or if they do business with the city or for the city, their financials should be public business.

Vog

Boycott Front Street Brewery! Boycott them all!

I have an idea, boycott all the businesses that support this group until they come clean. This means not only the business, but all who support them, vendor, events, etc. Why is it when crooks are asked for accountability they claim they are targeted. Tom Harris is not out of town, he's just out of touch with reality!

Have you WATCHED the video?

In the entire four minute video, there is a lone, very brief segment that shows an African American man playing the saxophone on a street corner.

One black guy? Panhandling? Is that how we really want our culturally-diverse downtown and community to be represented?

How did anyone at WDI, "Bring It" or City Hall approve the production, editing or posting of a video highlighting Wilmington that features one black person?

Shame.

So, you're saying

that far too many times people of color are portrayed as sax players instead of playing some other instrument or playing a sax is panhandling or that there should be more people of color either panhandling or playing saxes in Wilmington?

Personally, I would think that adding more African-American panhandling sax players to the video would probably be politically as well as factually incorrect, but hey, that's just me.

Justin

According to the last census 20% of Wilmingtons population is black.
In down town residential population its even less than that.
In the video blacks seem to be represented proportionally to the overall population.
Are you saying that the people responsible for spending thousands on booze "celebrating" this video were not "politically correct"?

Blame it on the liquor.

Vog

LOL

WOW....living in 1950 much...

It's all about...

...accountability. And neither the Downtown Business Alliance or Wilmington Downtown Inc. appear to have none. Splurging public funds on a private party, and then refusing to own up, was their mistake. Allowing it to happen was WDI's mistake. Not holding both entities accountable will be the City of Wilmington's mistake. Even worse, it appears members on both the DBA and WDI had reservations about how the money was going to be spent, but no one stopped the misuse of funds.

ANnnnd

come election time...EVERY ELECTED official in Wilmington will be RE-elected...THANK YOU REPUBLICANS for stopping annexation!

"They just weren't used to this type of a process,” Saffo said."

They just weren't used to the public finding out about tax payer funded bar tabs..........