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ONLY ON 3: McColl named to convention center board amid concerns of conflict of interest

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: McColl named to convention center board amid concerns of conflict of interest

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - Louise McColl, Co-Chairman of the recent USS Gravely Commissioning, was appointed Tuesday night to a Convention Center Advisory Board by the Wilmington City Council.

Before approving the nomination, Councilman Kevin O'Grady raised concerns regarding McColl sitting on the board. "She did a great job on the Gravely," O'Grady said. "I just don't think she's the right fit for this." He said he felt that because McColl is an event planner, being on the board could be perceived by some as a conflict of interest. "She's in an industry where she may be in a position of competing for use of the convention center and that could put her into a conflict situation where there can be an appearance of favoritism which I just don't want any cloud on our convention center," he said.

O'Grady's proposed naming Eric Rylander to the board instead. Rylander owns three downtown businesses. Council did not approve the proposal.

(To watch the city council meeting, click here:

Councilwoman Kristi Tomey, Chairman of the Council's Appointments Committee for Boards and Commissions, nominated McColl. According to McColl's website, McColl helped run Tomey's campaign for city council in 2007. (

In September, McColl requested $25,000 from both the city council and the New Hanover County Commission to help pay for the 11-day commissioning party. Both Mayor Bill Saffo and Commission Chairman Jason Thompson approved giving McColl the money, but admit they never asked McColl what she specifically planned to spend the money on and neither asked for a report back on how it was spent.

McColl also helped both Saffo and Thompson run their campaigns.

McColl's committee finally turned over a report on how the Gravely Committee spent $58,000 of the more than $200,000 budget. The report only specified a few purchases though, mainly transportation for the crew, a $25,000 fireworks show that very few attended, as well as plaques and books for the sailors. McColl admits the committee could have cut the event budget when it realized it was $50,000 short, but chose not to. She also admits that the $50,000 in tax payer money was actually thrown into the budget as a whole, and was never earmarked for certain events or projects.

WWAY NewsChannel 3 has learned that McColl has been invited numerous times to visit and tour the new convention center, but has not done so yet.

Ramon has invited McColl to talk with us about the nomination. He also has an appointment with Tomey this afternoon to talk about the perception of a conflict of interest regarding both the nomination (since McColl helped Tomey with her campaign) and in regards to McColl being an event planner and sitting on an advisory board of a group that she could chose to steer business towards or away from. Watch his story tonight on WWAY NewsChannel 3 at 6.

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.


time to start respecting your town

What a great selling point for events at the new convention center-
"there is a sucker born every minute", and they continue to vote.
Wake up people!
Residents of this area should be outraged at political corruption as it makes our local area look bad.
Remember all this when you vote next-

Is this enough...or...

Is this enough yet? Are we ready to actually show up next year and vote some good honest people into the council? Or are we going to just dutifully march to the polls and worship Saffo and Co. again and again forever because we are so easily fooled and manipulated by his hair and smile, and ability to cut ribbons so well? The voters in this city are pathetic and should be ashamed of themselves. It's ok to think outside of the Saffo chokehold on this city and put some fresh blood in office.

Tomey=mediocrity+arrogance+McColl and no shame

What incredible arrogance,and lack of judgment Tomey reflects in her interview with you folks. Dont blame McColl for this lack of integrity and clear conflict---this is Tomey a phony so lacking in good judgment and common sense. If we elect poor, self interested folks like Tomey-we get as other comments have noted=just another stooge lacking in good sense and integrity. Shame on Tomey and shame on us.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of interest, now that's funny. I'm not saying she is the right person,but you would think that someone that plans events would be a good person to have on the board.I thought the reason for the center was for it to be used.Don't you think if she had an event she would try to get them to use the center? I see where that conflict may come in, there's so many events planned some may be denied.

She should change her name

She should change her name to McGall.


IT is a disgrace that we see once again a clear conflict of interest- in the appointment of McColl. The City Council has no shame and no sense of integrity--this is a blatent conflict- we get what we elect. We have no one to blame but ourselves---you elect crap you get crap==shame on them for doing this, shame on us for letting Saffo and his stooges pull this stunt. Tomey is a phony and this is clear proof of that!!

Naming McColl to the Convention Ctr Board is like

. . . allowing the fox to watch over the chickenhouse.
C'mon, people! Could there BE more of a conflict of interest???

What part of this confuses you?

The city council has absolutely no concept of what "conflict of interest" even means.

They do, however, understand:

On hand washing the other

Quid pro quo

Pay to play

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours

"Someday, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me." - Vito Corleone


Louise McColl's appointment is not a surprise given her influence in the political affairs of our community. Our local government has NEVER been concerned with transparency given that on average only 15 percent of the electorate votes in our municipal election. The power brokers have absolute control of the agenda and enjoy having a disengaged electorate. It is a fair statement to say that most people engaged in politics are not statesmen but are in the game for personal benefit. They are not concerned about the welfare of a community. Until challenged otherwise , you can expect the status quo.