by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
From WSOC-TV comes a report about Charlotte Fire’s questionable use of taxpayer resources. Shouldn’t it be obvious this is a bad idea?
Channel 9 discovered leadership at Charlotte Fire Department had firefighters film a commercial for expensive watches while they were on duty and on the taxpayer’s dime.
Deputy Fire Chief Rich Granger told Channel 9 that North Carolina Emergency Management asked Charlotte Fire to participate in the Casio watch filming 18 months ago and that Emergency Management would also use the footage to seek grant funding from state lawmakers.
However, after Hurricane Matthew hit in October 2016, Emergency Management told Channel 9 the agency focused on response and never revisited creating a video.
The footage was used to advertise the Casio Mudmaster GG 1000.
“It was a commercial for a watch, a very expensive watch, on fire department grounds using fire department property and fire department time,” Battalion Chief Tim Rogers said.
Our Becki Gray recognizes the clear problem with this. She weighed in with WSOC-TV.
“The bigger question is whether it’s a watch, or a car or a trip, was the gift policy followed and more importantly, were good government policies in place?” Gray said. “It is important that there’s not even a perception that there’s any kind of pay for play, that there’s any kind of special favors being granted with taxpayer resources.”
Doubtful this story is going away anytime soon.