While a much used term in media and political circles, “pay to play” does fairly describe the interlocking circle of money and the support of political agendas in some cases. The specific “pay to play” case I am referring to is one concerning the proposed public safety center for the city of Raleigh. This building has been at the center of a political fight due to a tax increase to pay for it, the lack of a public vote to approve borrowing the money to pay for it and the high construction cost per square foot ($462).
The pay to play comes in when Harvey A. Schmitt the President and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce weighs in with a letter to the editor endorsing a tax increase and the building of the center without a vote of the people. Seems strange that a pro-business group would endorse a tax increase for a project with so little support in the community? Not so strange when you look beneath the surface. This could be nothing more than Harvey answering to a major funder of his organization.
The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce receives about $200,000 per year from the city of Raleigh and has received this money for over 10 years to support “economic development” for the city. Schmitt‘s compensation is reported to be around $400,000 a year. If true that means the taxpayers and businesses of Raleigh are effectively subsidizing 1/2 the salary of someone who is advocating for higher taxes.
Since the city is “paying” it seems only fair that Harvey would “play” for them.