CCTA Watchdog Report- Craven County Contracts with Allies For Cherry Point’s Future Considered

CCTA works to reduce the size of government. It is a very daunting task. Our founders warned us that government tends to grow, and freedom will be lost as a result. Last night’s Craven County board of Commissioners meeting again bore that out.

Two contracts were attached to the agenda that the Board declined to take up during the approval of the agenda consideration. I was glad they did, but I’m sure that just delayed the action that the Board fully intends to carry out at their next meeting.

The first contract is an agreement between Craven County and Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow (ACT). I think most Craven County citizens would agree that the future of Cherry Point is critical to the county’s financial well being, but the contract gives way too broad leeway to ACT to spend a lot of money ($400,000) with a promise to consider adding more in the future. IT’S A BLANK CHECK in that ACT can hire LAWYERS, ACCOUNTANTS, LOBBYISTS, MARKETERS, CONSULTANTS, ETC., AND PAY THEM ANYTHING THEY CHOSE TO, TO DO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING THEY WANT THEM TO DO.

Let’s take a look at who ACT is. It is another one of those quasi government Section 501 (c) organizations most of which have a track record of wasting literally millions of dollars of taxpayer money, by hiring staff, contractors, consultants, etc. These people typically turn in boiler-plate work at premium, custom cost.

This particular ACT organization is made up of members of various county and municipal Boards of Commissioners, Aldermen, Governor’s appointees, Department of Transportation officials, etc., from all over eastern North Carolina. There are also people there who have migrated from Global TransPark, NC’s Eastern Region, and The Military Growth Task Force. There are developers, lobbyists, a business owner who prints ballots for the county, an Electronic Systems and Software local representative, executives for Duke energy and the Chamber of Commerce, a DOT Commissioner, etc. YOU GET THE PICTURE! A LOT OF FOXES IN THE HENHOUSE! This one definitely doesn’t look good.

The second contract is among Craven County, Carolina Health System, and CarolinaEast Medical Center. It is extraordinary! CarolinaEast agrees to “transfer” the $400,000 to the County! WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE? A hospital that gets the use of a large hospital building free of rent, thanks to the largess of the taxpayer, just to practice medicine here, will give the county that amount of money as long as it is used to further Cherry Point.

Now who are those folks?

The Board of Directors of CarolinaEast…

Norman Kellum, Jr., Chairman, Kellum Law Firm
Dell Ipock, Jr., Vice Chair, was on the Craven County Economic Development Commission
Clay Milstead, Secretary, an attorney
P.O. Rogers, Asst. Secretary, a retired police officer and minister
Allen Hardison, Treasurer, a former government relations manager (lobbyist).
Barbara Lee, a former New Bern City Alderman and current member of New Bern Housing Authority Board of Commissioners
Stephen Sides, MD, a radiologist
Trawick “Buzzy” Stubbs, founder of Stubbs and Perdue Law Firm
David Blain, financial management and investment planning
Lee K. Allen, Craven County Board of Commissioners
Patrick McCullough, Vice President and General Manager of Neuse Builders
T. Reed Underhill, MD, Chief of Staff, a urologist

WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE INTERESTED IN GIVING $400.000 (AND PERHAPS MUCH MORE) TO CRAVEN COUNTY TO GIVE TO ACT? Maybe it is just that CarolinaEast’s enlightened self-interest is aligned with the best interests of the county in general. I hope so.

If this is the case, it might even be a mildly good thing, but these sorts of organizations don’t generally provide good value, and they so often morph into something else, and are soon wasting taxpayer money. Let’s hope this isn’t the case here, but what I fear is that ACT will run through all the money CarolinaEast is willing to provide, and then manage to dip into taxpayer funds. It’s one thing if CarolinaEast doesn’t mind wasting its money. It’s quite another thing if ACT manages to make that typical transition to the public trough.


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