And I meant every word of it.

I said what I said and I meant every word.

I tried play nice, to be polite and professional, to ask intelligent questions when I needed more information. All I got was silence and disrespect.

Yes, I walked out of our town hall and called the clerk, Carol Akers, a bitch on my way out. A few weeks before that I’d asked if she could supply additional information about a legal issue we discussed in a closed session. She responded, in a disrespectful tone, “Not if you want this audit finished.”

When I visited the office to pay my waterbill and check my mail slot a week or two later I asked again, and it took her less than a minute to find the book and show me the information I wanted to see. She turned straight to it and got disrespectful with me again, and I told her not to speak to me in such a disrespectful tone. She shot the same thing back at me and I walked out, and then I said what I said. I doubt I’m the first person to walk out those doors with that word on their lips after such an interaction with Ms. Akers, and I won’t be the last.

Don’t like being called a bitch? Don’t be one, Carol. You aren’t required to like me or anyone else you work with, but don’t be disrespect people and expect them to take it lying down. How many people around our town do you owe apologies to for that kind of unprofessional behavior? Two? Three? More? The list seems to be growing.

Not one of these people: four commissioners, the mayor, the clerk; none of them took the time to speak with me and explain how anything works after I was elected. No one explained to me what I was or wasn’t allowed to place on our meeting agendas. I was left to figure it out on my own, and then treated like a twelve year old for my efforts.

Instead they conspired to shut me out, shut me down, shut me up, and make my time on your Board of Commissioners nothing but a meaningless waste. Mayor Spivey spent election day and the weeks afterward pretending to want to work with me; pretending to find common ground, and then he and the four commissioners who recruited him set about stonewalling me.

I asked for some relevant information – time sheet data – in order to have meaningful discussions about the Streets Department’s budget, and some problems I saw in that and other departments. I tried to do the job I was elected to do, but everyone from the utilities director and the town clerk to the mayor and the other commissioners stood in my way, fed me incomplete information, or simply refused to comply with requests.

I spent a couple of months trying to meet all the employees in my assigned departments (I think I met all but one of them), listening to their concerns and ideas they thought would help them do their jobs more effectively.

I have at least four pages of notes that came out of those conversations; things Mayor Spivey told me, via the clerk, in an email, that we would be able to discuss when we started budget meetings. Then, after telling Commissioner Brower in January that we’d have “no do-overs” for department assignments, Mayor Spivey turned 180 degrees and asked to have me removed from those assignments himself, illegally in a special meeting advertised as a budget workshop.

No, I’m not going to waste my time or your money for the next four years being emasculated once or more every month. These people have no integrity and I will not have my name associated with them another day.

I wrote those words to the mayor, and I meant every word I wrote in that resignation letter.

As I said to Spivey, Parrish, and Brower upon handing them my resignation, “Enjoy your sinking ship.”

Ethics for Municipal Officials

Every newly elected official in North Carolina is required to have two hours of ethics training within 12 months of being sworn into office. I asked Clerk Akers to sign me up for a class the NC League of Municipalities offered online and viewed the course on January 29, 2024. It was enlightening. I wish everyone interested enough in our local government to read this blog could view the entire two-hour presentation themselves.

One segment especially grabbed my attention. I’d heard many explanations over the years about the rules governing open meetings, and often those explanations changed depending on who I was talking to. Here’s what the experts had to say about virtual or online meetings.

I’ve published evidence here in the past few months – screenshots from former Mayor Caudle’s phone – that clearly show three of the other four sitting commissioners violating this prohibition on unannounced, online meetings outside the public’s view. I’ve reproduced a screenshot below. Notice then-Mayor Caudle practically begging the board members to stop using the ‘reply all’ function to avoid breaking the law, and them ignoring her completely, like they always did.

Click the image to go back and read the rest of its context, but clearly, these commissioners were violating the spirit if not the letter of our state’s open meetings law. None of them have any excuse for not knowing this, especially not those who have served longer than twelve months. This is not a new law, but there’s more.

Below are three images of an email exchange that also broke this ethics rule. We begin with an email I sent to Clerk Akers. Note that I sent it on a federal holiday and did not expect any response until the next morning at best.

The content of the message is irrelevant at this point. I was sending a communication about an upcoming meeting to the Town Clerk, a perfectly legal and reasonable thing for an elected official to do.

Next, we have the clerk’s response, about ten minutes later, forwarding my message to the entire board, as I had requested.

Again, perfectly legal and reasonable. Remarkable only because she responded so quickly during a federal holiday, the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

And then things went off the rails.

The timestamp on the email above indicates that Commissioner Brower sent her response a little before 2 p.m., roughly two hours after the clerk’s forwarded message. It seemed much quicker to my memory, but that’s not what’s important. What matters is the Commissioner’s use of the ‘reply all’ function in her response to me.

Commissioner Brower was elected in November of 2021 and would have been required to attend her ethics training within twelve months of taking her oath of office, which included a promise to uphold the laws of the State of North Carolina.

If I’ve already seen this much unethical behavior by these board members in less than three months on the board, how much have you and I not seen? We’ll never know because laws like this rarely have any teeth. Our legislature is rather infamous for writing laws governing the behavior of public officials without including any enforcement mechanisms. Unless an official, elected or appointed, gets caught committing financial crimes, there are seldom any real consequences to bad behavior like this.

I will not risk my reputation by any further association with these individuals. This is my resignation letter.

I quit.