This is the email I sent to Melissa Adams August 7, 2018…requesting “A list of all non-profit organizations who contacted Mike Mitchell between the dates of July 24, 2018 and August 2, 2018 inquiring about purchasing any piece of land owned by the town of Hope Mills.”
This was in response to an August 2 post on Mitchell’s official FaceBook page claiming nonprofit organizations were contacting him to inquire about purchasing the same piece of land LSF was trying to purchase.
1 year, 1 month and 18 days later, Mitchell still refuses to comply with the public record request.
Video courtesy of Elizabeth Cooper.
May 21, 2018
The video begins with Mitchell reading from a statement he prepared for the board. He quotes Abraham Lincoln, ‘a house divided cannot stand’ and concludes with ‘in the interest of team building and open government, isn’t it time for our house to unite?’
Then he makes a motion…’the elected will not actively discuss the town’s business in group emails or participate in closed private Facebook groups that actively discuss town’s business and are not transparent as part of our rules of procedure.”
September 10, 2019.
Mitchell begins by announcing he asked the owners of the golf course property FOUR times if they’d been contacted by Jessie Bellflowers or myself. He even claims to have emailed them photos of us.
The email Mitchell is referring to…was actually sent to George’s partner…Jacob. Jacob forwarded the email to George. There’s a photo of Jessie Bellflowers attached to it…but none of me.
Mitchell told Jacob that Bellflowers told the board he met George at the JP Robinson Sports Complex across the street. In actuality, Bellflowers stopped at the JP Robinson complex, then stopped by George’s store. He didn’t identify himself as a commissioner to George’s wife.
Mitchell framed the entire situation in such a way as to make his fellow commissioner and myself look like we’d lied to the board. I submitted a request for those emails 19 days ago and still haven’t received them.
Mitchell continues by saying he was approached by Tonzie Collins…who has been negotiating the MOU on behalf of the town for the better part of five months. To be clear, Tonzie is NOT an elected official and is not employed by the town. Nor is he an attorney.
During the April 1st meeting the board discussed reaching out with an offer to lease the land but decided instead to contact McAdams Group and alter the Comprehensive Plan to include a new drive and parking lot.
Two weeks later the attorney announced he’d drafted an MOU to present to the property owners.
At no point in the video or official minutes from April 1st does the board ever discuss another attempt at partnering with George or tasking Dan Hartzog with drafting an MOU. The minutes don’t reflect a closed session after the conversation regarding the golf course on April 1st, or prior to the conversation regarding the MOU on April 15th.
The decision was made…in emails
I addressed this in the August 7 article linked above. Despite Mitchell’s one-time preference for transparency and team building…this board continues to operate behind closed doors. It’s unclear why Tonzie Collins has inserted himself into the negotiations, but it looks like he was there with Mitchell’s blessing.
Collins contacted Mitchell in late August to tell him one of the property owners was willing to sign the MOU. Instead of warning Collins to stop negotiating on behalf of the town, Mitchell invited them to discuss the contract. And while there was some back and forth with the attorney regarding the terms, Mitchell was less concerned with the tenants of the contract and Collins’ involvement, and more concerned with discrediting Bellflowers and myself.
Mitchell says the board agreed to spend the $4800 a year to the property owner by consensus. What he doesn’t tell you is that he received ‘permission’ to move forward by two commissioners and acted on it. Commissioner Edwards refused to reply because they were conducting business…in emails…again.
The Board ultimately voted to approve the memorandum of understanding with the property owners and are moving forward with the walking trail.