Leaked meals-tax memo reveals 'barbershop' strategy | News
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leaked meals-tax memo reveals 'barbershop' strategy

Posted by on Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 1:26 PM

This week, The Herald-Sun got their hands on a memo from the Rev. Melvin Whitley, a prominent backer of Durham Mayor Bill Bell, that details a race-based focus (registration required) to lobby for a 1 percent meals tax, which would fund a proposed Minor League Baseball museum and a Hayti Heritage Center expansion, among other city projects:

The campaign should include radio ads on local gospel music stations, posters touting the proposal in barbershops and beauty salons, and articles in black newspapers commonly distributed in area churches. [The H-S did not provide a link to the document.]

According to the H-S, a "pro-tax committee," of which Whitley is a member, plans to raise between $40,000 and $50,000, and enlist the "involvement of people with high name identification to voters," such as Bell and County Commissioners Chairwoman Ellen Reckhow. So far, Bell has remained mum about the tax.

Meanwhile, Bull City Rising wonders out loud "whether Whitley has taken up the cause on Bell's behalf," adding:

Given Whitley's reported close ties to the mayor [...] it's certainly well within the realm of possibility, particularly since Whitley is usually given to focus on crime-fighting and neighborhood improvement in PAC1, issues somewhat far afield from the facilities like the Civic Center, Hayti Heritage Center, and Minor League Baseball museum that would benefit from the levy.

In other words, Whitley's group plans to spend 50K trying to figure out how to make people care about a minor-league baseball museum--preferably, while getting their hair done.

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