Politics

When there are no consequences…

“When there are no consequences, being wrong is simply a diversion.”  Ian McEwan

Once again, this is the video of the December 3rd Board of Commissioners meeting.

2:08:34.

The Mayor opens public comments and Elizabeth Cooper addresses the board.  She speaks briefly about the new signs ordinance, then her remarks turn to the board’s actions.

“You’ve all been in your positions for almost a year…you haven’t accomplished a whole hell of a lot.  A lot of what you’ve focused on is pay raises and benefits packages.  You’ve turned down opportunities for growth in our community.  You keep saying you need more time to review things before you can make a decision and because you want this planning thing (The McAdams Group comprehensive master plan), as soon as the planning comes to you with the preliminary discussion from the surveys you talk about folding under Fayetteville/Cumberland parks.  How does that make any sense?  You allocate an additional $40,000 for a study that you just decide you’re going to shelve and go to Fayetteville.  How is that being good stewards of our community resources?  How is that you doing your job?”

Cooper blasted the board for allocating money on the McAdams Group study when they had no intention of actually using it.  She followed up by accusing them of being short-sighted in that they haven’t prepared for the eventuality of I-295 skirting Hope Mills or the major changes to Golfview Road proposed by NCDOT to accommodate I-295.  Cooper said it was irresponsible of the board to spend any tax payer’s money to build turn lanes or driveways off Golfview Rd. when NCDOT plans to come through in the next year and expand the road to 4-lanes.

3:01:43

Commissioner Jessie Bellflowers moves for an external investigation into the Board of Commissioners, the mayor and the Hope Mills staff regarding allegations of wrong-doing between December 1, 2017 and November 6, 2018.  The motion passes unanimously and attorney Dan Hartzog is instructed to contact the League of Municipalities to inquire of the costs and if they can perform the investigation.

Immediately after, Commissioner Bellflowers makes a second motion, to amend the charter to allow for recall elections.  This issue was discussed and tabled at the April 16th meeting.  Bellflowers wants them to vote on his proposed resolution immediately so the issue can reach the General Assembly while they’re still in session.   He also reminded the board there were copies of ‘mechanisms’ used by other municipalities for recall elections included in the agenda.

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Commissioner Larson said, “I’m not necessarily against a recall, ummm, I have a…difficult time comparing Durham and Greensboro and Fayetteville with Hope Mills.  That’s 17,000 and then 300,000+ and they have staggered terms, they have districts.  I mean we’re just set up completely different.  Ummm – I’m not saying I’m not willing to look at this in the future or even in January when they reassemble…but I just – I have a hard time making those comparisons between those municipalities…and Hope Mills.”

Perhaps it would have been better if Commissioner Bellflowers had not included the reference material from those municipalities…it seems to have confused some of the commissioners.  It’s purpose was actually to present an active example of an ordinance and it’s functionality…not to suggest that we’re similar in size and structure.  We do  have one commonality with larger towns…corruption.  Corruption doesn’t see size or districts or term limits.  It just sees opportunity.

Larson rallied and asked if there’s a known cost associated with a recall election and Bellflowers told her the cost is determined by the Board of Elections.  I think we can assume whatever the cost, it won’t be as high as refurbishing the golf course for a walking trail, or as high as the turn lane DOT is going to remove a year later, or the $87,000 parks and recreation survey they’ve rendered obsolete.

Bellflowers also said, “It doesn’t matter what the size of the population of the municipality is, it’s the spirit of holding the elected officials accountable for their actions and giving the voters an option.  They voted for us…and the recall mechanism is for the voters – if we’re not doing the standard of what we said we’d do by oath of office it’s their opportunity to petition for a recall of us…if we don’t do it…I’d like to know why not?”

Commissioner Larson said she only wanted time to research the issue.  Then she said it required changing their Charter, which is a big deal.  But, the board didn’t hesitate to move forward with changing the Charter when they wanted 4-year staggered terms.  Even after the public hearing at which the public was unanimously against 4-year terms, they still moved forward.  And for the record, there was no mention of holding a public hearing on this issue.

Commissioner Legge chimed in to ask, “What triggers a recall response?  What does a person have to do to get recalled?  We had a lady (Elizabeth Cooper) stand here tonight and tell us none of us have done nothing.  Does that mean we’re all recalled?”

When a citizen tells an elected official they’re doing a wretched job…when they’re bothering to do any job, the elected official SHOULD be asking…’what can I do better????’  Commissioner Legge’s only concern was prohibiting the citizens he was elected to serve from getting that recall election power and removing him from office.

Finally, Commissioner Mitchell said, “I stated earlier that I would support it if we went with the 4-year terms ’cause that’s a lot longer time frame and we talked bout the majority of municipalities – that’s what the majority of municipalities have gone to, 4-year terms.  And that’s why the majority of municipalities have gone to this recall election…just saying.”

Mitchell’s pushing the premise that you need four years to screw up.  He’s wrong.  It took him five minutes to send an email to his fellow board members and town staff, warning them against attending a political event during their off time.  That was illegal.  I’m not sure how long it took him to decide he should attend that same event, or whether he was there to see if the board and staff disobeyed him, or if he truly thought it was OK for him to go when he told them not to.

Having declared that 4 years is in fact longer than 2 years, and he didn’t necessarily support recall elections without the 4-year staggered terms, Mitchell voted against the recall resolution.  Commissioners Larson and Legge also voted against the recall resolution.

if you have questions, comments or concerns, contact the board!

Jackie Warner – Mayor

Email

Office Phone: 910-426-4117
Cell Phone: 910-309-7779
Home Phone: 910-424-0030

4333 Legion Road
Hope Mills, NC 28348

Pat Edwards – Commissioner

Phone: 910-723-9608
Email

PO Box 746
Hope Mills, NC 28348

Jerry Legge – Commissioner

Phone: 910-424-8821
Email

6432 Bretton Woods Drive
Hope Mills, NC 28348

Mike Mitchell – Mayor Pro Tem

Phone: 910-964-2632
Email

5411 Thompson Circle
Hope Mills, NC 28348

Jessie Bellflowers – Commissioner

Phone: 910-964-8103
Email

3306 Harrisburg Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28306

Meg Larson – Commissioner

Phone: 910-988-0748
Email

3752 Marantha Drive
Hope Mills, NC 28348

 

 

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