Pat McCrory: Killing North Carolina film and television jobs one at a time.
Opinion by: Michael G. Plumides, Jr., JD
Let me count the ways: On the behest of Sheila Schmidt Brothers, head honcho at Wilmywood Daily, I offer this op-ed piece describing why the newly empowered GOP in North Carolina felt the necessity to decimate the film and television production business in our beautiful state of flux.
Regarding the embattled “Film Incentive”, Governor Pat McCrory said to WECT the other day that, “We need to have some compromise on it because, frankly, there was some abuse of it.” The Republicans haven’t brought this theory up much – at least, not until they’ve been under the eye of voter scrutiny. And the “abuse” he refers to is obviously politically motivated, citing that the Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte in 2012 hosted The Daily Show, which received a rebate of $190,211 (although McCrory claimed the payout was $400,000). Not only did he single The Daily Show out, but he had to lie about how much to make it look egregious. Brothers says, “McCrory just spews out misinformation and goes about his business.” http://wilmywoodnc.com/2014/07/10/the-wilmywood-daily-07102014-govs-false-claim-of-abuse-emmy-noms-for-nc-film-and-more/ If you’re a free thinking Democrat, you watch Jon Stewart on a regular basis – and you know the Republicans don’t like him much – but that’s really not the point I’m driving at here. That’s more of an aside – but reveals the “smoke-and-mirrors”, ‘throwing-the-dart-and-painting-the-bulls-eye-around-it” tactics they have resorted to, even blaming the film business for lack of monies for teacher salaries – using Jesse Helms’ tactics from yesteryear to smear the local film employee. I smell Karl Rove. http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20140709/ARTICLES/140709718
Senior Republican, Phil Berger, from Rockingham County, has had a hard-on to dismantle the incentives since it’s inception. After the filming of the neo-pornographic yarn, Hound Dog, shot in Wilmington, circa 2007, Berger was on a crusade, of sorts, using the lurid film as an excuse to force content censorship on visiting productions – those who would apply for a tax credit, would also have their scripts approved by an appointed political panel in Raleigh http://www2.nccommerce.com/eclipsfiles/15836.pdf .
Then Governor, Bev Purdue, nixed Berger’s proposal and instead bumped the program up to 25% as opposed to 15% so North Carolina could compete with Georgia and Louisiana – humiliating Berger. Berger vowed that if the GOP ever were to retake the NC Congress, he would squash the “Film Incentive” – which is really a misnomer because it applies to all “Qualified Business Ventures” under the tax code. http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/bustax/overview.aspx
And although they accuse “Hollywood” of stealing NC tax dollars, they offer no evidence of “abuse” but also no measures to “even the playing field” for entrepreneurs and start-up business, because frankly, they don’t give a shit.
And as we all know, it doesn’t matter how many pie charts, or graphs, or other trappings of investigation you produce to Republicans in support of the incentive (or “global warming” or “coal ash” for that matter), or how many college professors with tenure at N.C. Universities offer their 50 page comprehensive, scientific extrapolations, once the Republicans make their minds up – that’s it. And the North Carolina GOP is directed from higher ups.
When I met with then (now disgraced) Charlotte Mayor Pat Cannon last December, he already knew what they were going to propose – stating they intended to siphon money from the counties who most benefit – and he was in tight with McCrory, et al. Ol’ Pat has been bound and determined to “sunset” the tax credit and that determination is evident in their many unreasonable, ridiculously-lopsided and undesirable proposals (including an unworkable grant program) are written. Many of the proposed bills are destructive and vindictive (a la Berger), flushing North Carolina’s hard earned film and television production infrastructure down the toilet. This “Tea Party” obstructionism doesn’t take into account the five thousand full-time employees, another twenty-thousand part-timers, tourism, or the local businesses and rental houses for that matter – all of whom pay state taxes, and fees. Let the mass exodus begin just like NAFTA.
Art Pope and the John Locke Foundation? No. Higher. Americans for Prosperity a la the Koch’s? Maybe. There is a colluded effort here. They are propping up McCrory for a top slot in the program – and they are slowly taking states like Texas and North Carolina – anywhere that has an inkling of progressive thought. The rich, white plutocracy intends to send the political competition packing and us back to the stone age. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2012/09/05/10793/north-carolina-governors-race-awash-out-state-funds
As I’ve always said, follow the money… and although there’s not a lot of Republicans in the production business, there are a lot of Republicans that own land and operate down Georgia way. The “Chick-fil-a” Cathy family – and God bless ‘em, knew what was good for Georgia, and their burgeoning Pinewood Studios endeavors – and they wanted a rigged game. So, they saw their opportunity to grease “Gubnah Pat” through a super-pac or two – to get him elected (as millions of outside dollars flooded the state in 2012) to plant the seed of political unrest regarding the incentive – the same way Berger did a number of years before that resulted in low film production numbers that year. The flux resulted in Pinewood landing the Marvel contract for four years. Didn’t NC just film the blockbuster, Iron Man 3 here? http://www.southernstudies.org/2014/06/art-pope-nc-featured-in-national-debate-on-campaig.html
Now, another studio is in development in Georgia – at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and I-85 – a combination of studio soundstages, back lot, office complex, film school, and hotels. Supposedly this is a billion dollar enterprise. Nobody plans this stuff overnight – the Atlanta Media Campus and Studios by Jacoby Development will break ground this summer. http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2014/feb/23/progress-movie-studio-is-8216catalyst-project8217/ A similar project was proposed for Charlotte on the old Eastland Mall site – but fell on its face. Oh, and coincidentally, Screen Gems has filmed two projects on that Gwinnett County, GA site – Fast and Furious and Hunger Games: Mockingjay – so, there’s some cloak-and-dagger, back room dealings going on here – Wilmywood should be asking some questions, with EU sending truck loads of equipment south.
Without repeating myself, let’s just say, the GOP is anti-union, they are anti-media (because those in production are usually Democrats), they are anti-green, and anti-Hollywood. and if they run all the Democrats out of Wilmington and Charlotte, the better chance the GOP has in securing New Hanover and Mecklenburg counties next time around with little “tree-hugging” opposition.
Let’s face it. There’s gonna be a big c@nt punch to the NC film industry and there’s no easy answer to why, or who – but I think it’s fair to say that the emotionally- charged press the GOP has created, takes North Carolinian’s eyes off of their “robber baron” intent to frack and mine, and in the process, poison our water supply, create earthquakes and sinkholes, and litter the coastline with oil platforms.
I used to live in Wrightsville Beach on Asheville Street, four doors down from Dino DeLaurentiis… it won’t be a pretty sight.
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The Koch’s are at war with North Carolina’s film industry. But as I have publicly said for almost a year, they are not targeting other “Red States” like Georgia or Louisiana – or even Texas. Austin is doing well. So, this may be all to benefit the Cathy’s endeavors and others who stand to profit from building production hubs and infrastructure built by GOP-friendly companies so they get their piece of the action of an industry they do not profit from presently in North Carolina.
The latest in a series of unsettling revelations – the Koch’s share the same lobbyist with the NC Production Alliance – so it’s just become a big shit sandwich and we’re all gonna take a bite. But the Koch’s aren’t opposed to programs that afford big incentives to companies building facilities in states like South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas (where Glenn Beck just built a studio). http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/glenn-beck-moves-movie-production-696274
The Koch’s are bolstering the aforementioned states and destabilizing others like New Jersey, Florida, and North Carolina. I think once the developments are underway, they will re-institute the North Carolina incentives, so the GOP favorites can benefit and get a piece of an industry they so fiercely fight against, once they control the facilities. This has been a concerted effort by Republicans to get their piece of a very lucrative industry at the expense of the film worker.
I always said, “follow the money.”