Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Definition of Cronyism and the Million Dollar Tent

From Wikipedia - Cronyism is partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy.

Cronyism exists when the appointer and the beneficiary are in social contact; often, the appointer is inadequate to hold his or her own job or position of authority, and for this reason the appointer appoints individuals who will not try to weaken him or her, or express views contrary to those of the appointer. Politically, "cronyism" is derogatorily used.[1]

Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of dirigisme[1] Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.

The Hickory Hound: This is written in response to Rudy Wright's assertions this morning in the Hickory Daily Record.  It has been stated that only .5% of the people in Hickory serve on the various boards and commissions. Of those .5%, many appointments are people who have very close ties with the council. And in some of those positions, except where mandated, the turnover rate is very low. And I have seen well qualified people turned down who don't ascribe to the Council's philosophy or have fallen out of favor with the Council, while at the same time Council goes as far as to appoint their own family members to these advisory committees.

We have also seen this Council use city funding to grant low interest loans to their own children.

The Sign

The incumbents sure don't like the message from the sign that we put up that states, "Tell the Union Square Elite - No more million dollar tents."

People associated with Union Square say just ask Mick Berry, he'll give you the numbers, when those numbers have been requested, but not given, in any professional context. We want to see the line items of where and what monies are accounted for and to whom. Is that so much to ask when it comes to public money?

It is a matter of trust, and the City Council plays a role in that. First it was going to cost $286,000 in December, then they come back with $426,000, and now Rudy Wright has stated that it is $501,000 and we are just supposed to take his word for it as though it is some sort of decree. And Hickory Inc. has now said they must add additional lights and cameras and we haven't seen the appropriations for that. If we don't understand this, it is their job to help us understand this. We are not stupid!

We have seen that city labor was used and there has been no accounting for the man hours in relation to that... We have seen that a local non-profit agency's labor was used to substitute for certain labor usually managed by city workers, while they were away working on the Union Square structure. This is an agency with whom the City Council has apparent deep ties. And this agency is already receiving monies from the City under a grant program... There has been zero public discourse about this labor program being used as an additional benefit for this agency and funded through the public treasury as what I see being an extra benefit. All of this has to be factored into the cost of that structure.

Then there is the additional cost that will naturally occur in relation to maintaining the structure over its lifespan. What are the costs of maintenance? We have already seen several additional costs related to the unforeseen/unintended consequences of the construction of the Union Square structure. Will there be more? We think so.

We were told that the highest cost of the physical structure itself is the fabric and that fabric has a lifespan of 7 to 10 years. And folks, then it is going to have to be replaced. Can you see a million dollars? I can see a million, if not more.

Is it a tent?

What we know is that this structure was originally intended for the use of the Farmer's Market to replace the individual commercial canopy tents that they had used in the Hickory Station parking lot and subsequently in the east end of the Union Square parking lot. That is where the notion that this structure is a tent came from, because they have replaced the smaller individual tents with one big tent.

As Joe Brannock has stated, "Yeah, you can't really call it a tent, because a tent at least keeps you dry."

The farmers aren't even enjoying the overhang portion of the structure. Because of the translucent nature of the structure, along with the fact that many vendors are actually outside of any shaded area, we have been told of a case of heat exhaustion and others being very uncomfortable  and that it is very hard to maintain the quality of the produce and other items being sold. People and products were soaked a couple of Saturday's ago due to these same problems with the overhang and  lack of protection for the vendors.

Jill Patton said there was input from vendors at several meetings related to this subject, but we were told that it was more of that good ole Hickory, "If we want your opinion, we'll give it to ya!" style of ramrod discourse (Hickory Farmer's Market questions the Big Tent on Union Square - March 17, 2012). And there are also many questions about how and why the creation of this structure came into existence to start with. While she might consider this sniping and griping, these are customers (the vendors) of the city and we believe they should be listened to. These vendors pay good money, where is the customer service?

And it sure looks like this thing is going to cost our community at least a million bucks to me!!!


 The Burning resentment towards the CEG Ward Election Sign; I have heard it from many of the NSB people. When are we going to take that "Lie" down.

Folks, we are not going to ever lie down.

The other side is the one that has it in their minds that they know better than the rest of us... That they don't need public input on public projects... That they can manipulate processes and numbers to justify their personal ambitions, desires, and goals... and we are supposed to lie down and Rudy Wright is going to tell us what our sign can say. Are these words "dangerous?" Does King Rudolph have a problem with our freedom to speak and express ourselves? Who really seems to be the one that has the dangerous idea here?

We have all been told, "You just don't have the information we have." Any information we don't have is a result of Hickory Inc. not being forthright in divulging it with the people. They are a club. They are a small group of people who have empowered themselves through secrecy and lack of compassion towards their fellow community members to use the Public Trust towards their own personal desires, goals, and achievements. They are supposed to be public servants and work towards the interests of the public, but instead they think we are supposed to be here for them and we are just supposed to go along with whatever they decide... whatever they decree... and just lie down.

Listen to the Words of Rudy Wright in his Robocall the other night, "It is unfortunate that we have this referendum." Which hat is he wearing in that call? Is he the Mayor? The head of the No Steps Backwards Coalition? A citizen? Or the authoritarian King Rudolph?

2,707 people legitimately signed the petition. No one lied to them... No one held a gun to their head... It is a historical event, because it is the first time a Referendum has been forced on a local government by the people in Catawba County. Hickory Inc. fought this petition every step of the way and we have now come to the final stages. 

Will it pass? That is up to the will of the people. I put my trust in the people to make that decision. It is their choice.  Rudy Wright doesn't seem to be comfortable with that.

No comments: