Regardless of the final program put in place to help struggling small businesses purchase paper bags, the idea that our local government officials were working closely with Senator Basnight’s office to create a taxpayer funded warehouse and distribution system, is newsworthy.  How has this story been treated in our own ‘mainstream media’?  Below are local stories printed after ToD ran the original Papergate story:

Outer Banks Voice story:  Tourism board not interested in paper bag business

Buying and warehousing paper bags does not appear to be a business the county’s tourism authority is interested in pursuing.

The Dare County Tourism Board reviewed ideas that included finding a supplier to provide a bulk price for paper bags to ease some of the burden of the expanded plastic bag ban on smaller businesses.

Warehousing them was another idea discussed by area business and government leaders. Last month, the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce sent out a poll to members to gauge interest in forming a consortium to buy bags in bulk.

“We do not want to be in the paper bag selling business,” Chairman Paul Buske told the board last week.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly voted to ban the use of plastic bags by all retail outlets. Previously it applied only to stores more than 5,000 square feet or with five or more outlets in the state. The full ban goes into effect Oct. 1.

The board agreed to work with distributors like Jennette Brothers and Sysco to see if they would offer a lower price for people who already do business with them.

“It’s something that’s really out of our scope of what we normally do,” Buske said.

The Sentinel buried their report in this news story:  Tourism board awards $60K to events group

In other business, it was reported that Outer Banks Visitor’s Bureau Director Lee Nettles has been working on a “paper bag initiative” so area businesses can use them instead of plastic bags.

Tourism board Chairman Paul Buske reported that Nettles has orchestrated a plan where area stores can buy affordable bags from food distributing vendors such as Jennette’s.

Nettles said he was first contacted by Senator Marc Basnight’s office about the matter, and they also worked closely with the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce.

Buske said Nettles did an “excellent job,” on the project.

Neither news outlet found the public scheme worth mentioning in their story.  Surprising?  Not.  No one will cross Marc Basnight.  This story will not see the light of day beyond this blog.

This affair is troubling on so many levels.  Did anyone in government question whether or not Senator Basnight should have any say in how private businesses purchase these items?  Did anyone in government think that a publicly funded warehouse and distribution system might not be a legitimate function of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau or our county government?  Do they even now realize that they stepped way over the line in even considering such  a scheme?

Senator Basnight has way too much influence over our local leaders.  The lines between the Senator and our local government and community leaders is blurry at best as the emails clearly show.  Where is the leadership in our community?  Is there anyone in leadership here that understands the distinction between public and private enterprise?

And going back even further, did any of our community and government leaders tell Marc Basnight that imposing this kind of mandate on small businesses, especially in the current economic environment, might not be a good idea?   It is no small matter for these businesses to make this change in how they deliver their goods.  ToD would surely like to know if there was any opposition to this ban that was made plain to the Senator.

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