UPDATE: Thompson answers Airlie e-mails with tax pitch
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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.

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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."

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.

How is it possible that the Chair of the County Commissioning Board finds it acceptable to blackmail the citizens of this county to support a tax increase by threatening them with the sale of the only public garden in the area? In recent months we have seen our water bills sky rocket, our sales taxes increase, and jobless rates rise to over ten percent. Our homes are worth a good deal less than they were two years ago, and now the commissioners are threatening dire consequences if they are not allowed to raise sales taxes as well as property taxes. We are fed up! It is time just stop spending what we don't have!

Thompson was just elected to the County Board, so he'll be there for a while! The biggest problem I see is Airlie Gardens is it's always been a private garden, until it was sold to the City a few years back; now it's open maybe 2 months out of the year, so it's still a private garden! Then again, 2 years ago the County ran a commerical saying, THEM tourist keep our taxes low, yet they discovered a misplaced comma, and all of a sudden we were 10 million in the hole, well, we've still got too many tourist, and they keep raising taxes, so it's time to start balancing a budget! Now if they'll just open Airlie Gardens up so us tax payers can see the thing, other than on some designated weekend!

Why does it cost Millions of
Dollars each year for Airlie Garden? What are we getting for all this money? Remember you have to pay to get into it.

It is really time for the county and the city to open its eyes.. Tax dollars are to run the City and County. Not to be give to all these special interest groups. This groups need to raise monry from their supporters and not from the tax payers. I pay taxes and then part of my money go to groups that I do not support their causes. So, I am being forced to support them..

 

 

The mission of Airlie Gardens is to be a historic public garden with cultural and environmental education for the residents and visitors of New Hanover County.

 HOURS OF OPERATION: Winter Season Hours, January 2-March 19 Open 6 days a week: Monday- Saturday, 9am-5pm Regular Season Hours, March 20-December 31 Open 7 days a week: Sunday-Saturday, 9am-5pm Spring Bloom Hours, April 3-May 17 Open 7 days a week: Sunday-Wednesday, 9am-5pm; Thursday-Saturday, 9am-7pm

 

UH...January 2 through December..??  LOOKS LIKE YEAR ROUND TO ME!

Does this remind anybody of the old car commercials "We over ordered and now everything has got to go!" Just change it to "We overspent and now we want to raise more taxes!"
If only it worked that way is private sector:

Me: "Sorry boss, I bought a new truck I can't afford so now you have to pay me more but you will not get any extra work out of me." Boss: "Sorry, you don't work here anymore."

We have to remember that elected people work for us and it is time to fire some of them. Start with Thompson.

I'm just stupefied that this man is STILL an elected official in our community. Who are these people that keep voting him in?

The fact that a sitting County Commissioner, let alone the Chair, would use the sale of a prized asset like Airlie Gardens to motivate the citizens for a nominal tax increase is not only short sighted, it's counter productive. Add that to his own "bullying tactics" and direct threat of a respected community volunteer and it's clear that Thompson has forgotten who he represents and why. This petulent, child-like behaviour is irresponsible and has no place in our County Leadership.

We have some clear choices for our upcoming County Commissioner race. It's time to replace the parochialism that has dominated our County leadership with forward thinking and responsible individuals willing to work in an open and transparent government that is truly for the people. I'm just sorry that Thompson is not running this time around...

Short term solution to a long term problem. How about stop freaking spending more than you take in.

Thompson made the same p*** poor suggestions when he was on the city council. How about raise the taxes of the uneducated people who voted him into the county comm.

Why isn't anyone discussing the chain of events that got us this far in the hole? The deficit we face is a lot of money for a county as small as New Hanover. It might also be interesting to discuss whether this is a one time fluke event due to the failing economy, or whether we need to prepare ourselves for many years of deficits. Is anyone planning to prevent future deficits?

If you want taxpayers to commit to another tax that will further hammer anemic retail sales here, then give us a compelling reason to believe the money will not be wasted. We are seriously overtaxed right now. Just a little bit more is all we hear from every level of government. Is there any end in sight?

I don't know how he continues to get voted into office. He always seems angry and in a bad mood. Time to vote him out! If anyone is a bully it is Jason Thompson. Always blowing things way out of proportion!

It's easy. The people in this area will not stand together and pursue what it takes to get these people "out of office". They would rather clog up the forums of news websites with complaints and remedies and wait in the wings for some messiah to come along and do it for them!

If anyone is a bully it is Jason Thompson. To this day I do not know he continues to get voted into office. He has a bad temper, bad attitude and obviously bad language!

Sell Airlie Gardens, sell the parks, cut Law Enforcement, close the libraries. I have had to cut way back due to wife's unemployment that his county cannot provide. Why should I have to pay more taxes. You had Law Enforcement during Azalea Festival burning tax paid gas and wear and tear on vehicles for the rich and socially elite to be escorted. I am not supporting any property or tax increase. You commissioners will not receive my support if you do not learn how to cut back and do with what you have like everyone else has to do. Most of your citizens are struggling. A tax increase is unaffordable and tells constituents that politicians could care less about their struggles. Ignore us like you usually do and when we vote you will, I REPEAT WILL BE REMEMBERED.

If they close the parks, close the libraries, and reduce Law Enforcement then they are increasing unemployment.....that doesn't have a positive effect on the County. The sales tax is one fourth of one penny. 25 cents to every $100. It's a minute amount that applies to every single person who shops in NHC. It's small and it's fair.

One of the major problems with your idea is that "cut Law Enforcement, close the libraries" will put aditional people out of work. I, like you, have had to cut back due to my wife's disability... now you want to put me out of my job as the sole breadwinner for my family of four?

They can start by firing Bruce Shell the County Manger. Not once has he been held accountable for his mistakes.

County Commission's spent, spent, spent, and now want the tax payers to bail them out. Cover up their mistakes. Vote NO for a tax increase.

........or does it seem that all of a sudden when there are hard decisions to be made that the County Commissioners want us to make the decisions. Normally they don't want us anywhere near the tiller of the ship of state but now that it is headed for the rocks they want us to grab hold of that tiller. Titan comes to mind as an example.

Well it has been stated that this year's budget is 22 million dollars less than last year's. As a taxpayer, I haven't yet seen any reduction in services or taxes based on this most recent cut.

I say keep cutting expenses.

Then make sure his puppet Jason Harriss is not elected to the County Commission.

Can you imagine Thompson with his very own "yes man" jason harris, a democrat running as republican, being a better human being or honest public servant when he has Harriss, his own ventriloquist doll, on his fist doing whatever Thompson says?

Caster's got Rick Catlin and Sid Causey. Thompson's got Harriss.

All Republicans and independents need to vote against Jason Harris and Rick Catlin and any other puppets of Louise McColl and the other crooks in the GOP Primary.

Vote for real people, not crooks like Thompson and Harris, who love raising taxes while partying with julia boseman and acting like psychopathic corrupt thugs.

It took me numerous times to get him to answer me when I questioned him about allowing PISA Soccer to be kicked off the fields they were using. This happened in the middle of the season. And when he did he acted like a 6 year old. He really needs to be voted out and I still think you are a coward jason.

 

When the time comes we need to show Jason what we really think of him VOTE HIM OUT! VOTE HIM OUT! He is also part of Legion commission and partly responsible for New Hanover High School lacrosse not being allowed to use a field/stadium that clearly states on the building and in the by-laws HOME OF THE WILDCATS!!!!!!

Tool does not even begin to describe him

In your linked e-mail, you started out acting like a d!ck. I would have ignored you too. How about politely asking next time and you might get a timely response. The other two commissioners ignored you too, so obviously Jason isn't the main problem. It sounds like Scott is the real tool.

In a recession, stuff like field maintenance should be the first thing on the chopping block. If the ball clubs still wanted to play, then they can take care of the fields themselves.

Good to hear from you again Jason. When you are an elected official you don't get the luxury of ignoring your "boss", the public. The other two commissioners answered me and I didn't feel the need to post their responses. Go back and read it again (if it is still posted) WWAY likes to remove stuff. PISA wasn't asking for any funds, just to use the fields that had been promised to them. In the middle of the season Jason thought it would be a good idea to kick them off and give the fields to Cape Fear Soccer to use.

If you want to play soccer, build your own fields. No tax money has been spent to build our fields. We had to hold fundraisers and community donated land to build our fields. Always wanting something at a taxpayer's expense......Liberal idiots.

So you are saying Cape Fear never got any tax money? I say BS! This is from WWAY July 24, 2007:
"$150,000 will be given to the cape fear soccer association over the next three years.
The money will help build seven soccer fields here at the park off Highway 421."

So I guess you consider begging the government for tax money "fund raisers"

PISA doesn't take any tax money and only wants to use the fields assigned to them. Last year Thompson allowed them to be kicked off and the use of the fields given to Cape Fear. Then in typical government style they flopped back to original agreement. At least they could recognize a bad decision, too bad it only was after they made it.

I will agree with your last statement, liberals are idiots and I'm proud not to be associated with either.

Hey scott, I am not in your county. I am in a county that doesn't has much intelligence, but at least they don't give money away when we don't have it. As for our soccer fields, we are not Cape Fear Soccer association, therefore you are wrong. We are just recreational soccer, but we had to build and furnish our own fields. We are in the process of raising money to build a Dixie Youth field because commisioners won't hand us the money to do so. Get your facts straight before you accuse.
Burn liberals burn.

Then you are lucky because our county government is clueless. The facts are straight as far as county money going to Cape Fear Soccer. PISA doesn't take any county money but they do have to use county park space to practice and play. Again, I agree with your last sentence.

Thanks for all your comments. The fact is Government has grown too much and provides way more than was ever intended. Look at yourself when you want to blame someone. I can only provide what you want to pay for. Mandates first. Then everything else. Nonmandates are where the cuts will be. For Scott stop lying and whining about your pet PISA project. You know that PISA used 2 fields not assigned to them and that started the whole schedule debate. I hope you will all support the sales tax b/c that is the fairest way to pay for the svc you want. Property taxes should be reduced and sales/use taxes increased. Coward? Me?? My name numbers etc are open to anyone. Are yours? I take all the criticism no matter how unfounded or plain wrong it is. If any of you can do better it is an open process just run for office and see what the voters think. I know some of the loudest whiners have already tried and got turned down by the voters. Hence their whining on all these forums etc...

Sure thing jason, I'm making up what you did last year. I guess that is why there is a story on WWAY dated 10/26/2009 about PISA having their fields taken away. Nice try, now you try to be truthful. Nope, I won't support any new tax because you have proven to not be trustworthy of the current funds you do have. Why should we give you more? And yes, you are a coward. You wouldn't answer a very simple question. I don't need to post my full name or phone number because I'm an elected official. Unfortunately that would be you (but hopefully not for long.) I've never run for office because I have enough sense to be successful in the private sector.