Letters to the editor – Friday (6-20-08)
on RJI controversy
After reading comments in the Post concerning the Rowan Jobs Initiative (RJI), I would like to offer readers another perspective.
There are several issues related to RJI. The first is centered on funding and accountability. Rowan County taxpayers have given $325,000 to RJI since 2004. The total pledged amount of $150,000 was given by the County Commission in one lump sum the first year. An additional $175,000 was appropriated in succeeding years in the hope that RJI would bring new jobs for the citizens of Rowan County. In contrast, the city of Salisbury has chosen to pay its $150,000 pledge to RJI through an installment plan, which is still ongoing.
After years of funding thousands above the pledged amount, where are the promised jobs? Thus far, RJI has not verified any new jobs for the $325,000 taxpayer investment.
The second issue concerns a local public relations firm and the $117,366.97 that was paid to this firm by RJI. Unfortunately, the owner served on the RJI Board of Directors while his company also received funds from that same organization. Irrespective of this funding controversy, the owner and his firm were credited by the County Commission chairman for doing good in the community. In the final analysis, though, the majority of commissioners acknowledged significant concerns and voted to discontinue the extra funding to RJI.
The guys down at RJI profess to be upset, but how can they yell so loud after receiving $175,000 additional taxpayer dollars over the county’s pledged amount? Why complain when they’ve not produced any new jobs? Do they always operate aboveboard? What about the RJI invitation to Bruton Smith and Lowes Motor Speedway? How long will it take to repair the lost credibility with our neighbors over that fiasco? Maybe the Salisbury City Council will pledge a few dollars more.
ó Tina Hall
Tina Hall serves on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.