Charity-ball juggling – Exclusivity at issue

A state lawmaker from Fayetteville who is an adviser to Gov.-elect Mike Easley is miffed that proceeds from the Jan. 4 inaugural ball are earmarked for the Junior League of Raleigh, The News & Observer in Raleigh reported Dec. 13.

“The people across North Carolina would like to feel a part of this,” said Sen. Tony Rand, a member of Easley’s Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “They are contributing their money, and there are children in need across the state.”

Earlier this year, Easley and his wife, Mary, inked a deal to let the Junior League control the ball proceeds – following the precedent of governors since the league started running the governor’s ball 78 years ago.

Walker Mabe, league president, said the event has become a fundraiser for the women’s volunteer group, which “can run it like nobody’s business.”

In some past inaugurations, such as Gov. Jim Hunt’s in 1997, the governor-elect has asked that some proceeds support a specific charity, she said.

All told, she said, the balls have generated roughly $1 million that the league has returned to the community in the form of support for local groups and causes.

Lou Anne Crumpler, a co-director of Easley’s inaugural committee, said a compromise probably could be worked out, with some of the ball proceeds possibly going to a statewide charity and the rest going to charities of the league’s choice.

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