ONLY ON 3: County Commission chair says military service justifies Gravely spending
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Together, the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County paid $50,000 to help fund the USS Gravely Commissioning. But city and county leaders say their slim budgets might not be able to support other groups looking for a boost.

Facing big budget deficits, council members and commissioners say it is very unlikely they can fund every non profit in town that wants money.

"This is a tough budget year," Wilmington City Councilman Ronald Sparks said. "The revenues are down and we need to take a serious look at all programs."

As groups around the county look for funding help, county commissioners and city council members have some tough decisions. Earlier this year the city denied the Cameron Art Museum's $100,000 request. The museum is trying again for the money by asking for $50,000 each from the city and county.

"Eighty-five percent of our budget is mandated by the state in terms of how we are going to spend those dollars," New Hanover County Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield said. "Them having that request right now is just poor timing."

Giving extra thought to who receives money from the city and county in such tough economic times seems justified.

Having received more than half a million dollars from the city and county the last few years the Cameron Art Museum says it deserves continued public support. The staff says the money would go toward supporting the community through art education. It's money it seems unlikely to get this time around.

But what about justifying the $50,000 of tax payers money for the Gravely? Sparks says the Gravely commissioning was a very lucrative investment; one the city couldn't pass up.

"That event brings a lot of exposure to Wilmington and brings in additional tourism after the event. Folks who came here, over 7,000 people came through for the Gravely," Spark said.

Barfield made a similar argument about return on investment. But just bringing up the Gravely seemed to Barfield on the defensive.

"Have you ever served your country?" Barfield asked a reporter who questioned him about the Gravely money. "You would need to serve your country to be able to answer that question. Myself, Bobby Greer, Bill Caster, Jason Thompson, we've all served our country, whether it be the Marine Corps or the Coast Guard or the Army or the Navy."

City Council will look at some of these funding request as a budget work session later this week.

As for Barfield's contention that you must serve your country to understand funding the Gravely, it's the subject of tonight's edition of THE RANT.

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Chairman Barfield said "You would need to serve your country to be able to answer that question."

The word "answer" has the opposite meaning of the word "ask." An antonym, if you will.
Unfortunately, Channel 3 did not post the question, so I don't know the context. Yes, there are some questions that only veterans can answer.
I can conclude that if you have a problem with his statement, you:
A)Don't speak English very well
B)Are very stupid
C)Are a partisan hack, with an ax to grind
D)All of the above

In any of those situations, you really shouldn't display it in public.

So why didn't **HE** answer the question, instead of that pompous, arrogant brush-off he provided?

Thanks for the English lesson....why don't you run for county /city office, sounds like your arrogance would fit in nicely there.

...what does that make you, for not understanding them?
All I did was clarify Chairman Barfield's statement, since you, and many other posters here, obviously did not understand the difference between "answer" and "ask." If that makes me "arrogant," that's a label that I'll proudly wear. It's certainly better than "ignorant."

Arrogant isn't something to be proud of in this case, it just makes you as ignorant as the politians. You sound just like a politian, trying to get hung up on words (whining over the definition of certain words instead of actually making a clear stand on something.....answer/ask...whatever) instead of the overall arrogant nature of his comments. My only guess is, you are one of them. The bottom line is, most of us with any common sense see ignorant, arrogant people spending our money the way they want to, we get upset and work to get them out of where they don't belong. We don't get hung up on "ask/answer" bull crap. You can support them and give them your personal money until the end of time for all we care, and if you're one of them, enjoy your time now, I don't think you'll be there much longer. If that makes me ignorant in your opinion, great....better than an ignorant arrogant politian.

I am so glad that I don't live in New Hanover County anymore and have to see those idiots spend my hard-earned money so frivolously. It does sadden my heart that my beloved hometown is going to hell in a handbag because the elected officials over there don't care about the people they were elected to serve.

I am sure that Brunswick County enjoyed some of the benefits of this event be it patrons filling up their gas tanks, enjoying a warm meal or sleeping in a cheaper, newer hotel room. I am sure Brunwick did not chip in to fund such an event. New Hanover and the City of Wilmington would have better spent their funds overhauling the water company that has done nothing but cause woes for their citizens.

Spending needs to be monitored and examined with a fine tooth comb. It is crazy that county offices are filled with pottery barn furniture and campaign/holiday parties are being funded with county money. Don't just look at where money is being spent by the county. Look into how it is being spent once given to different departments and organizations in the Wilmington area.

I am a disabled veteran and served my country. Barfield is a clone of Thompson and both need to go. I thought for awhile Thompson was good for the county but I see things quite differently now. Thompson and Barfield both voted to spend our money on services they enjoyed but not the public who funded it. These type politicians have to be voted out to remind others who is in charge, the citizens, not you "DA" politicians. You want to commission a Navy ship then you pay for it. No taxpayer money should be used except for vital county services, not expensive parties for the rich and elite.

First of all, thank you for your service and sacrifice, (and the same to the other veterans who have replied). Second of all, you pretty much summed it up, this was much less about the Gravely sailors serving our country but more about trying to make the city and government look good and in doing that, paying for things with tax payer money that the humble public couldn't even participate in. I've heard long before how arrogant and self serving these people are, and it is indeed time for them to take a walk. We as voters must hold them accountable. As for the sailors of the Gravely, I see no problem with us the public showing our appreciation to them and maybe even having small things for them, but not to the tune of $50,000 and defintely not out of the tax payer's pockets.

You aren't entitled to ask questions about your money unless you served in the military? Barf-field and Thompson wear their military service on their sleeves as if they are entitled to a pass on anything they do wrong.

Mr. Barfield are a DISCRACE to veterans! I would NEVER use my status as a veteran to stifle debate or block someones DUTY to find out the truth on government issues! YOU SIR FOUGHT for the citizens right to ask tough questions and demand answers as well as accountability for actions! Veterans did/do that out of love for freedom...we don't use it against those we protect!

THE ENTIRE County Commissioners, as well as every flipping Wilmington Council member needs to be tossed out on their rear ends! It's almost flipping us off at this point!

Wow. So the media and/or the public should not be allowed to ask a question if it relates to the military unless they have served? That's crazy. The city council and county commissioners make all types of important decisions regarding many things they have never personally been a part of. That's a pathetic response.

So if you have never served in the military you don't get to voice an opinion? I fully support our military folks but enlisting isn't an option for some people. There are medical and physical reasons why a person might not be able to serve. I would like to see Barfield tell an epileptic on medication or a person that lost an eye that their opinion doesn't count because they haven't served.

I feel that the county commissioners feel that they can do spend what they want on whatever they want and not have to answer to the people that voted them in. They are DEAD wrong.. Also Mr. Sparks comment "one the city couldn't pass up" wasn't the Gravley coming to Wilmington anyway?

Now, for Mr. Barfield if you can't answer questions regarding the tax payers money on where and how it was spent without going on the defensive, then you should step down... you were elected to serve ALL of the county not just the chosen few.

NO, we don't need to serve our country to understand..
We thank you all for serving and I come from a famliy of military people. My father in WWII, my brother in Vietman and a son-in-law right now in Afghanistan for the 4th time in 5 years... So, I take offense to you making that comment. This is something that I will NOT forget come election time... and it goes for the rest of the commissioners too Mr. Thompson....

Absolute foolishness. Bearing arms for the United States does not give a free pass to spend taxpayer money on ANYTHING. Using your service as a justification to attack a reporter's right to ask a question, whether you like the question or not, is a low tactic that was used because no real answer to the question existed. And yes, I've served my country, so don't even try.

The nerve of that guy to ask about the reporters "Service". Shame on him for bringing up his service as a point of comparison in an attempt to justify why his cause is deserving of funding. How many people spend $$ to come to see the museum. His cause may be worthy, but to use his service as justification / answer, is an indication of futile attempts to redirect why it might be hard for his cause to be refunded.

still harping on this story?

the money is gone and it is not coming back so deal with it,but yes it was frivolous to spend 50,000k and a one time get together.

but the bbq dinner that cost like 2k that was ok.

Everyone should take a look at the "budget" for 2011, enough said.

I served my country Mr. Barfield and I do not see any justification in the City of Wilmington or New Hanover County giving any funds for the commissioning of the USS Gravely during these economic times. People are taking pay cuts, loosing their jobs and you politicians continue to spend taxpayers money as if there is an endless supply of it. Sometimes you just have to learn to say NO, we can not afford it at this time.

I served my country for far longer than you did, and I assure you that the crew of the Gravely couldn't have cared less about the number of events that cost tens of thousands of dollars on people other than the crew. A $25k fireworks display that no one saw? A reception with a handful of crew and FOUR-HUNDRED "guests?"

Second, I know of no requirement that a citizen serve in the military before he or she is welcome to express an opinion or ask a question regarding how his or her tax money is spent.

Finally, if you and the county commissioners allocated that $25k because of some nostalgic memories about your military service, what does that say about your ethics, judgment, and intelligence?

Is being an arrogant ass a formal requirement to be chairman of the county commissioners...or do we just chalk it up to coincidental, sequential bad luck?

Your slipping on us, using the mine's bigger than yours agruement.I believe you can be chairman,you do have the reguirements.

wouldn't Mr. Thompson be a great choice to go to Raleigh. If it fits, he could wear his uniform. He could rub elbows with Bev; and maybe his personna would be the only invitation she'd need to return to Wilmington

Well, I served my country for 10 years so I guess that gives me the right to an opinion. The plank-owner plaques should have come out of the ships operating budget and every sailor on there already had meals prepared for them on the ship. We didn't need to feed them or buy them presents!

....but we didn't. The majority of that combined $50k went to stroke the egos of people like McColl, Saffo, Thompson and Barfield. I'll bet that every one of them was at every event, sucking down massive quantities of chow, courtesy of the "peasants" that paid for it.

We all know what an arrogant jerk-off thompson was (still is) and now barfield wants to one-up him.

There we have it--incompetence-mediocrity- arrogance-- we elect crap we get the same. How many more deals like the Gravely-no accounting until demanded by WWAY and others. Then the sweet deal for Louise MCColl and the convention center. We have ourselves to blame-good news lets defeat Tomey this year and Barfield next year---look at thier contributors-- special interests like developers and others who have enriched themselves at our expense. Tomey's deceit and arrogance in her interview iwth you folks was outrageous.