Monday, May 9, 2011

Is Charlotte Greensboro? Does anyone even know?

" Observer review of expense account spending by the taxpayer-supported CRVA over four years reveals a practice of lavishing Charlotte business leaders, local public officials and themselves with thank-you gifts.

Gifts included free concert and sports tickets, pricey dinners and alcoholic drinks. One thank-you: $4,600 worth of New York Yankees tickets.

Board members who oversee the authority also receive thousands of dollars worth of sports and concert tickets, as well as food and drinks on Newman's corporate credit card.

Newman, CRVA chief executive since 2004, said the spending is necessary.

Is someone going to ask Henri Fourrier,
President/CEO/Director of Marketing/Communications
of the publicly funded Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau,
how much he has been giving and spending on what?

Isn't that the same Henri Fourrier
who sold Greensboro’s electorate on an Aquatic Center
with a non-independent, non third party “hypothetical”
that will most likely cost Greensboro millions
in principal, interest, operating and maintenance costs?

The CRVA is a public organization, supported in part by a tax on hotel and motel rooms that generates about $23million a year, as well as a 1percent tax on all prepared food and beverages in Mecklenburg County that raises $20 million.

Isn't that kind of the same set up
as the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau?

...Newman has also had missteps.

• Attendance at the CRVA-operated NASCAR Hall of Fame has been one-third of projections. The hall has so far lost more than $1.2 million in its first year. Newman, the hall's most public backer, was adamant in the weeks before the hall's opening that it would hit its estimate of 800,000 visitors annually.

Kind of like the ACC Hall of Champions and the swimming pool?

...After Mayor Anthony Foxx harshly criticized the CRVA over the lapses, the board on Wednesday hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to review the authority's policies and organizational structure. The consultants, who will be paid $25,000, will work with the authority through June 2.

Is someone going to look at the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau?

The CRVA's unofficial motto is "put heads in beds."

Doesn't that sound kind of like
what the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau likes to say?

...A review of Newman's credit card expense reports dating to 2007 shows he spends up to $8,000 a month.

...In 2009 and 2010, however, Newman used his corporate credit card to buy $4,600 of New York Yankees baseball tickets for himself, Johnson & Wales University President Art Gallagher and other guests, including the publisher of the Durham-based magazine Baseball America and a guest.

...The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce was given other CRVA perks.

In fall 2008, Newman attended N.C. State University's opening football game against the University of South Carolina in Columbia and bought $278 worth of tickets for the chamber.

Has Henry given tickets to Greensboro's Chamber members,
City Council or County Commissioners?

...Newman said the CRVA applies what he calls a "reasonableness" test to determine how much it should spend on clients and people in the community.

Does Henry go by the same "reasonableness" test?

...Until recently, the Charlotte City Council gave the CRVA little scrutiny, despite the fact that it's a subsidiary of the city and its board is appointed by the mayor and council members.

Should the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
recieve a little bit more scrutiny?

...City Manager Curt Walton said the city doesn't conduct in-depth reviews of CRVA expenses.

Does Rashad Young?

...In other instances, the CRVA has lost track of how its tickets were used. It bought $300 of tickets to see the Bobcats play LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008 but doesn't have any record of who used them.

How many tickets has Henry "lost track of"?

At the 2009 Quail Hollow Championship, where Tiger Woods competed, the CRVA bought $4,500 worth of tickets to the Overlook Club -- which this year includes an "upscale buffet and beverages" as well as "access to executive restrooms." The CRVA said it doesn't know who used the tickets.

Newman said his expenses are also reviewed by auditors and the N.C. Local Government Commission.

A spokesperson for the N.C. Department of State Treasurer said the commission doesn't review detailed expenses.

The CRVA is required by law to submit its audited financial statements to the State and Local Government Finance Division, which is the staff to the Local Government Commission.


But state treasurer spokesperson Heather Strickland said in an email that the finance division's auditor "provides an opinion about the statements, attesting to whether or not the statements materially represent the financial status of the CRVA at the report date.

The State and Local Government Finance Division does not review individual expenditures in detail."

The Charlotte Observer

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