FIRST ON 3: The Gravely & Your Tax $; Committee report very selective about how it spent your money

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - Organizers for the Gravely Commissioning have turned in their "expense report" to the city and county.

Committee Chairperson Louise McColl said last week the committee's budget was close to $200,000. She said they didn't realize they were $50,000 short until a few weeks ago, but we reported back in September that she asked the city for $25,000. The county followed suit with another $25,000 a few days later. McColl also admitted that organziers could have scaled back the budget to meet the amount they had raised, but they didn't think to do that.

McColl also said the $50,000 was thrown into a "big pot", but in the committee's report, they "allocated the money" to trolleys ($10,125), buses ($7,350), fireworks ($25,000) and plaques ($11,120) and books ($5.125) for the ship's crew.

Another local TV station reported the committee also spent money on the following items, which the committee will not give specific cost details on:

•November 12th
BBQ Lunch – 125 crew 50 guests

•November 13th
Stargell Auction Dinner – 2 crew 12 guests

•November 14th
Deep Sea Fishing - 45 crew
CO Dinner with Commissioning Committee – 3 guests
Dinner with a Sailor – 45 crew

•November 15th
Breakfast – 1 crew 4 guest
Commissioning Committee Dinner – 14 crew 36 guests

•November 16th
City Council Dinner & Meeting – 4 guests
Screen Gems/One Tree hill Tour/Dinner – 141 crew, 50 guests

•November 17th
Lunch – 1 crew 4 guests
Ten Pin Alley bowling – 80 crew 40 guests

•November 18th
Golf at Landfall – 26 crew 15 guests
Tennis at Landfall – 12 crew
Lunch with Vet group – 75 crew 15 guests
Lunch with Ms. Gravely (inner city) 3 crew 40 guests
Wilmington Celebration Dinner @ Thalian – 172 crew 150 guests (Comedian/Entertainment)

•November 19th
Sponsor's Luncheon – 9 crew 8 guests
Manicure, Pedicure and Hair for Female officers – 10 crew
Chairman's Reception – 35 crew 400 guests
Fireworks

•November 20th
VIP Guest Breakfast – 400 guests
Post-Commissioning Reception Warehouse – 5000 guests
Co Family/VIP Reception – 200 guests

•November 21st
Prayer breakfast with Congressman Mike McIntyre – 75 crew 35 guests
Co and Commissioning Committee Dinner and thank you – 3 crew 37 guests

New Hanover County Commission Chairmam Jason Thompson admitted Friday commissioners did not ask McColl what she planned to do with the money, nor did they originally ask for a report on how it was spent. McColl helped Thompson run his campaign when he ran for County Commission.

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Gee, I wonder who those "guests" were? McColl, Hinnant, Saffo, Thompson, and the rest of the "in crowd?"

How about that reception....thirty-five crew, four-hundred guests!

We should find out how many free meals and drinks New Hanover County residents consumed, and make them reinburse the taxpayers for their one-week mini-vacation.

This is blatant, in-your-face corruption. Every city council member or county commissioner who voted for this might just as well have flipped the middle finger to the taxpayers.

It is up to the citizens of New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington to make them account for every dime. Glad I live in Brunswick County.

I do remember when Jason Thompson was running for city council and his platform mentioned that the council was not as open as it should be on different things and he wanted that changed - it is called accountability. Now that he is there, it has changed. Surprise surprise!!!!

Maybe that should be a consideration next time he is running!

As any good government employee knows, the best place to hide a lie is between two truths. We should DEMAND a full and accurate accounting of this money. If we do, I'd almost bet that several of our elected officals will be smacked with ethics violations. Keep digging WWAY