Written by: Elizabeth Blevins
Last night’s Commissioner’s meeting was…disappointing. Commissioners Mitchell and Larson were not censured for operating outside the scope of their responsibilities by the remaining Board members. Mitchell never referenced violating staff rights…he didn’t even issue a public apology. He did find a way to mention his business…again
But more disappointing than that, was news Commissioner Larson does not have a conflict of interest.
“Section 160A-75 of the General Statutes provides that, for city councils, “No member shall be excused from voting except upon matters involving the consideration of his own financial interest or official conduct.” – Owens
This particular rule was designed to ensure there is a quorum, so as not to delay proceedings. Which makes sense…but it also poses a problem.
“The voting statute apparently was intended to address the concern of voting on contracts and other legislative matters, not such more recent innovations as quasi-judicial conditional-use permits that must be approved by a city council.” -Owens
For legislative procedures, Board members are not required to remain unbiased. For quasi-judicial proceedings…they are.
Read this to understand the difference.
The voting statutes create a conflict between requiring board members to vote, and protecting public confidence in elected officials. Making decisions with integrity and avoiding conflicts of interest is integral in establishing that confidence.
“Citizens have the right to expect that governmental decisions will be based on consideration of what is in the best public interest, not what will most benefit the personal finances or concerns of an individual citizen board member.” – Owens
Whether or not Commissioner Larson has a conflict of interest, is no longer relevant. And she may consider this a private victory. But for the people of Hope Mills, it’s a very public loss. We can no longer expect any decision rendered by the Board to be unbiased.
Mitchell expressed grave concerns over the ‘one-sided’ news being published about him and his decisions. He even graciously offered to give interviews to anyone interested in hearing his side. But he hasn’t once mentioned the veterans who would benefit from a LSF facility. I worry the Board members are so busy creating sound bites and headlines…they forget there are people at the base of this issue.
It is very important to me that everything I post be factual. Therefore, I want my readers to know Meg Larson has informed me Lisa Waring was not her campaign manager during the 2017 election. She did not refute any other part of the last article I posted on August 19.