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FIRST ON 3: City spending $25,000 of your money on Gravely Commissioning

READ MORE: FIRST ON 3 @ 5: City spending $25,000 of your money on Gravely Commissioning
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UPDATE - In this struggling economy, many worry Wilmington's City Council needs to be saving money, not shelling it out. But council members voted unanimously to give out another $25,000 to a local PR company.

Tuesday night, city council agreed to give the money to McColl & Associates to help fund the commissioning of the USS Gravely in November.

President Louise McColl would not make time to meet with us Friday but told us over the phone the money will be used to help feed sailors and VIPs in town and provide buses and trolleys for them throughout the 12 days of the event.

The recession has been hard on both the city and county and both have talked about raising taxes to help make ends meet. But dishing out $25,000 for food and transportation is something City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark says is well worth it.

"I agree it's tough times but the return on investment, I think will be far more than $25,000," says Rivenbark. "Those people who come to town, those four or five thousand people and about 1,200 family members of the crew, they've got to rent motel rooms, hotel rooms, they eat, they buy gas, they buy souvenirs, I mean they'll shop in our stores."

McColl says she plans on asking New Hanover County for another $25,000. Rivenbark says it'll take another $200,000 to commission the 509-foot guided-missile destroyer and that will come from the federal government. He says giving the money is the least the city could do.

"For a city to be picked to commission a United States Naval ship is a rare opportunity and quite an honor," says Rivenbark. "To get to be asked twice is extremely unusual. And we did such a good job on the USS North Carolina submarine that they decided to do the Gravely here."

We were also told that if the sailors want to have fun on their own, like visiting Jungle Rapids or going deep sea fishing, they will have to pay for it out of their own pockets. Rivenbark says when the USS North Carolina was commissioned in 2008, the city gave the same PR company $50,000.

McColl says the $50,000 from the city and county won't even cover the cost of food and transportation. They will need another $20,000 - 30,000, which she says will come from private donations.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - While both the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County continue the conversation of raising taxes to help make ends meet in this recession, the city agreed to give $25,000 this week to help fund the Commissioning of the USS Gravely later this year.

The money will be used to help entertain the sailors and VIP's in town that week, according to McColl and Associates, the local public relations firm in charge of the event.

The firm also plans on hitting up County Commissioners for more money.

Organizer Louise McColl wouldn't make time to talk with us today but Hailey is talking to members of the City Council to find out where the money is coming from. See her story today on WWAY NewsChannel 3 at 5.

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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Commissioning of the USS Gravely

I am in the Navy and work for one of the Admiral's invited to the event. The average crew compliment of a destroyer is just under 300 personnel. Both Officers and crew will easily spend $200 to $1000 per person over the couple of days there, not to mention that Norfolk is only 5 hours away, so a lot of them will be bring family down for the commissioning. Yes, this is an invited event, however, the average Admiral or senior executive coming to this event will spend about $2000 just on travel expenses alone. Additionally, Wilmington will be showcasing it's tourism to a lot of people who live within driving distance - you should see the hundreds of cars leaving Norfolk on any given Friday in the Summer going to the Outer Banks. Wilmington will see a return on its investment.

Bo and Luke, where are you?

We need you here in Wilmington, desperately. The number of people who don't even flinch at Bozz Saffo handing $25,000 to one of close friends and political associates is downright frightening. When corruption becomes so commonplace that folks don't even bother to question it, you have to wonder if it's worth even living here any more. Just like all little crooks and their buddies, when a TV station reports it, they go crazy criticizing it for letting the fresh air and sunshine in to clean out the stench.

By the way, Charlie, I'll eat my hat if "four or five-thousand people" attend this commissioning. And maybe the Navy is giving us a second commissioning because they realize what suckers we are.

Do the math, folks. Figure out what people will have to spend for the county and city to each recoup $25,000 in sales tax.

Here's hoping that WWAY continues their accurate reporting of events by giving us an honest headcount devoid of Bozz Saffo's political spin.

Lets see...thousands of

Lets see...thousands of people coming to witness this event staying at hotels, eating, and for many seeing our community for the first time. This is a winner for Wilmington. Same thing with Azaela festival. WWAY questioning if all the law enforcement was needed to escort the Queen and VIP'S around. Are you kidding? It's our showcase people. WWAY is a joke with its TABLOID reporting.

GET OVER IT

It's not everyday a town gets to have a commissioning in its backyard. Suck it up and enjoy the moment. Small price to pay for the publicity and tourism that day will bring.

Taxpayer-Funded Payoff

If this doesn't seal the deal for voters out there - nothing will. The article should have mentioned that McColl IS THE CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR BILL SAFFO, KRISTI TOMEY, JASON THOMPSON, and many other past candidates. She is a political operative who is a member of about every board in the county. She is a inside consultant on many political issues that affect your money. She is representative of the insider corruption club in Wilmington and New Hanover County. The Star News once referred to her as the "Matriarch of Wilmington Politics", and said that people don't get elected in this town without her blessing. I myself have found that to be quite true.

And now this - yet another ship commissioning in which she gets paid a nice chunk of taxpayer money? When she goes to the county for money as well, don't be surprised when that vote is unanimous as well, led by her understudy Jason Thompson.

This is nothing more than one of many taxpayer-funded payoffs to McColl, and is how the game is played. It is things like this that keep true citizen-representatives out of office - like Brian Berger who everybody needs to run and vote for, if for nothing else to end political cronyism and payoffs.

This is unethical and unacceptable. It is time to address your government, and tell them no more.

Need change in County and City

We have Saffo and his cronies- causey who is so blind to corruption and cronyism that he could not possibly address it--and Butler who talks out of both sides of her mouth depending on whether she is in front of liberal or other group. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we keep electing tax and spend corrupt politicos---send them packing---and the special interests they serve so well while city and county flounder. Dont let them intimidate you-turn out and vote this mediocrity out!!

Sure the city is going to

Sure the city is going to generate revenue, but how will that revenue benefit the taxpayers who are shelling out the 25K??

It is simple. Visitors will

It is simple. Visitors will stay in hotels, patronize restaurants an other local businesses, ETC. Their is many, more vulgar wastes of tax dollars we should worry about. This is not one of them.

Commissioning of the USS Gravely

This "FIRM"; A "Public Relations firm" that is getting 25K Dollars in, WILMINGTON TAX PAYER DOLLARS, to **Entertain the sailors and VIP's in town that week**? I'm saying, doesn't the NAVY do it's OWN advertising? (Buy a 30 sec spot on WWAY?)...PAY it's sailor's/crew while on "shore leave?"
Cannot the NAVY, maybe, "rent" our BRAND-NEW Convention Center, to do all these *VIP* Activities?

Cannot the NAVY, FOOT the bill of Commissioning one of it's own Ships?
WITHOUT OUR/YOUR, TAX DOLLARS?
Yet, this *Public Relation's Firm" wants MORE of OUR Tax Dollars that the NAVY, should be paying for?
WHO is "profiting" from these activities? THAT should be looked into... Follow the money folks...

Wast of money

Since we are in hard times right now we should not fund this project.

No substance

What a miserable attempt at journalism. There is absolutely no content to this article. A high school student could have mustered more than three paragraphs, and perhaps even offer a little critical analysis of the economic impact created by hosting such an event. Take five minutes on google next time and see how other cities have benefited from hosting a commissioning ceremony.

Stupid again, WWAY

Geez...the chief's mess on a destroyer is going to spend that much on beer during their visit. Talk about no smoke or fire. No wonder you guys are reporters...you failed economics!

Honestly...

...is this journalism...or a one-sided story designed generate anger? Where is the rest of the story? Have motel reservations increased during the commissioning? Any potential for generating revenue for the area? Are there any out-of-town guests? Do you know why Ms. McColl wouldn't; "make time" (thought was a physical impossibility) to talk to you? Perhaps there was a reason. Please complete this story...you're only part of the way there.

You don't watch this station

You don't watch this station very often, do you? WWAY is nothing more than Tabloid Journalism. They do it in attempt to get ANYONE to watch their news. WWAY lost all respect in the community, and all of their viewers, years ago.

economic development

THOUSANDS of visitors will be staying in our hotels, eating at our restaurants, shopping at our stores and visiting our attractions.

I would like to encourage WWAY to include the whole story, including the POSITIVE impact this event will have on our local economy.

If you think

If you are of the opinion ,
this is a poor
Way to spend our tax money.
Vote them down the road!!!
Although , knowing their time may not be
Extended.
They may just do something worse, but
How could they top the convention center
Or the water authority....
Now I am frightened !!

One sided story.

Why don't you talk about the revenue the city is going to generate? The tourist coming to see it, the soldiers family that are coming, and not to forget the soldiers themselves! Let's look at the totality of the situation.

What planet are you from

What Planet are you from? Do you not remember all the people who want to see the Commission of the new USS North Carolina? Do you remember only special people got to go? Did you ever hear the amount the tax payers paid for that?

I be willing to bet you do not live in New Hanover County or the City. I say lets put a ticket booth at the gate and charge the big wheel $500 a ticket. Then the money left over after paying the 25k go to reduce taxes..

Have you crunched the numbers Chris O?

How much revenue will be generated to the City/County coffers in terms of sales tax during this event?

If you need help, come on back, and I'll provide you with the formula to do so in order for the City to recoup the $25,000 of taxpayer dollars it's spending.

Here's a hint: There's no way in hell there will be enough retail sales generated to equal the percentage of sales tax revenue necessary to equal $25,000

they would be coming with

they would be coming with or without the city spending 25,000.
They think everyone is just going to shut up and pay more taxes. So they can feel free to spend.. Think again Wilmington.. We are taxed to our limits.. NO MORE !!!!!

Try $50,000

apparently the County is going to pony up $25,000 as well. Remember that when you vote in November.

On the other hand, maybe they'll include a parade so all of the commoners who are not VIPs can partake of the festivities?

Because an objective look at

Because an objective look at the story wouldn't be the biased, sensationalist story we've come to expect from the pot-stirrers at WWAY.

Entertaining "VIPs".... what

Entertaining "VIPs".... what a great use for taxpayer resources in bad times. [omitted obscenity laden tirade]

Louise McColl receives $25, 000 from Wilmington Council

How convenient that Louise McColl, who has managed political campaigns for Bill Saffo and Kristi Tomey, etc would receive $25,000 from council.....I bet neither Tomey or Saffo abstained from that vote....she is now going to ask the county commisioners for money, too, and guess what? She also managed Jason Thompson's campaign. God help us and our tax money!

CHANGE-VOTE FOR BETTER

WE ARE WHO WE ELECT---SAFFO,CAUSEY AND OTHERS WHO HAVE SERVED THEIR OWN INTERETS AND THE SPECIAL INTERESTS-THIS IS BUT ONE MORE EXAMPLE OF CRONYISM AND ABSENCE OF TRANSPARENCY-BUT FOR REPORTING. THE DEMS IN WILMINGTON ARE OUT OF CONTROL-WE SHOULD VOTE THEM OUT.MORE IMPORTANTLY, LETS DEFEAT TAX AND SPEND DEMS RUNNING FOR COUNTY OFFICE. WE CANT AFFORD THE GOOD OLE BOYS OR PEOPLE WHO SPEAK OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF THEIR MOUTHS-WHO ARE RUINING OUR PRESENT--IF WE WANT A BETTER FUTURE LETS SUPPORT CANDIDATES WHO WILL SERVE OUR INTERESTS--WE HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT OURSELVES--REMEMBER TOO MANY OF US SAT ON OUR HANDS AND DID NOT VOTE AGAINST THE TAX INCREASES-AND HAVE VOTED FOR THESE CLOWNS BEFORE.