UPDATE: Mr. Thompson has raised a concern regarding the following part of this story, "We tried to talk with Thompson about the e-mails, but he would not make himself available for an interview before news time."
To clarify, WWAY's Ramon Herrera called Thompson at 1:01 pm Monday asking if he could sit down with him and talk about this story. Thompson said he was busy, but Ramon should call him at 3:30 pm and he would try to meet with Ramon between 3:30 pm and 5:00 pm.
Ramon called Thompson at 3:43 pm and left a message. Thompson returned the call at 5:13 pm (which Ramon missed) and again at 5:21 pm. Since Ramon's story was scheduled to run at 6:00 pm, Ramon offered to meet with Thompson after 6:30pm. At that point, the two couldn't agree on a convienient time to meet, so they rescheduled for Tuesday morning at 10:30 am.
Thompson is sitting down with us today to talk about this story and the possibility of selling Airlie Gardens. See what he has to say on WWAY NewsChannel 3 at 6:00 pm.
Pressure to balance the budget is leaning heavily on New Hanover County Commission Chair Jason Thompson. The county is short some $14 million, and so apparently is Thompson's patience.
Thompson has been busy reading emails from dozens of citizens concerned about the possible sale of Airlie Gardens. His response: the decision is in your hands...
Thompson's county e-mail inbox is full of messages from concerned citizens. He's spoken out on the issue, saying if a quarter cent sales tax initiative doesn't pass, he'll support the possibility of selling Airlie Gardens.
It's news that worries Airlie Foundation Board President Bob Martenis. Last week he emailed Thompson to ask if he could put Thompson on a list of commissioners who oppose the sale and send it to foundation members. That note, though, apparently hit a nerve with Thompson. He wrote back, "You may not. I don't support the sale - but I will do it - as we do not have the million dollars annually to pay for it. I... resent your bullying tactic email and you can be assured I will remember it."
We talked to Martenis about his motive for sending the note. He said he just wanted to get the chairman's stance and never expected it to be taken as a bullying tactic and never expected to get a response like that.
In other emails about Airlie, we found Thompson sent a stock response to all of them writing, "That decision is in your hands. Passing the quarter of one penny sales tax would help to take selling NHC land off the table. Please vote yes on May 4th."
Commissioners Jonathan Barfield, Bill Caster and Ted Davis all told us this afternoon they do not support selling Airlie. Commissioner Bobby Greer has not yet returned our call.
We tried to talk with Thompson about the e-mails, but he would not make himself available for an interview before news time. During that call though, we asked him how he felt about the e-mails. He said, "I've answered every damn email, I don't know what else they want."