Mayor Danny Shaw seems to have a problem; he can’t keep his stories straight. If this were a new development perhaps it could be attributed to age or senility, but by all accounts this behavior has been going on for years.
For example, in comments the mayor made at the end of the Board of Commissioners meeting last Monday, March 4, 2019, Mr. Shaw made several contradictory statements. He began by stating his opinion that “we’d all be better off,” if Facebook, this website, and pretty much the entire Internet didn’t exist. Welcome to the Information Age, Mr. Shaw. None of this is going away, and our world is better for it.
Mr. Shaw then stated, “I sent an email to Mr. Trey Allen (inaudible) with the School of Government in reference to a statement that was made of an illegal meeting that was being held if another commissioner came into town hall of the Town of Ramseur.” Mr. Shaw was referring to a comment I made on the Elect JC Parrish Facebook page in a conversation about conflicts of interest involving elected municipal officials who are paid employees of the same municipality.
Mr. Shaw took great exception to my opinion and contacted Mr. Allen for a clarification, which he paraphrased, in part, on his official Mayor of Ramseur Facebook page. He also sent me a copy of the email he received, as he is required to do under a public records request I made over a month ago.
I have already written about the online exchange that took place between myself and the mayor, in which I thanked him for clarifying my partial error. You can read those posts by clicking here and here.
I say partial error because, according to Mr. Allen, it is not a conflict for the non-voting mayor to meet with two voting members of a five member board, but Mr. Shaw failed to mention an exception mentioned in Mr. Allen’s response, as quoted below.
“The possible exception to what I’ve written above is a situation in which you and two council members form an “effective majority” of the council. Suppose there were an issue over which four members were evenly divided, with the remaining member excused from voting. You would be the tiebreaker. If you were to meet to discuss the issue with the two members whose side you favored, the three of you would constitute an effective majority as to that issue, and a court might conclude in the event of a legal challenge that your gathering was subject to the open meetings law’s public access, public notice, and minutes requirements.”
During the mayor’s reading of Mr. Allen’s email at the March 4th meeting, he stated, “I am not considered a member of this council. I am the mayor, and not a member of the board of commissioners.” Mr. Shaw then pointed out that any time he and Grant Cheek – who is both our town’s water billing clerk and the commissioner charged with overseeing our water, sewer, and public works departments – are both in the office, any other commissioner can legally visit the municipal building and discuss whatever they wish with both of them.
What Mayor Shaw would like us all to forget is that for about half of 2018, the board was effectively a four member council, split evenly on many issues, and therefore subject to the exception Mr. Allen outlined. I can neither prove nor disprove that any illegal meetings ever took place during that time period, but it would have certainly been possible.
During Mr. Shaw’s comments in the meeting he stated that he sent an email to Mr. Allen, but I never received any such email. I wanted to know why I hadn’t received that message, so I raised my hand. The mayor informed me that I could not speak and tried to adjourn the meeting before completing the approved agenda.
I spoke up anyway and demanded an answer, but Mr. Shaw would not respond to my question. Shaw then accused me of “sending an email out,” which made no sense to me as I had not sent out any emails to anyone, with the possible exception of the automatic emails this website sends to subscribers whenever I publish a new post. The mayor was not making any sense.
Commissioner Caudle attempted to step in and Mayor Shaw declared her out of order and again requested a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Overman then pointed out that the mayor is allowed to make his comments at the pleasure of the board, which is technically true, since board members vote to approve the agenda before each meeting and can strike any items they wish. Doing so would not be conducive to open communication and respect among all parties concerned, but given the environment of distrust Mr. Shaw and others have cultivated over the years, in my opinion it couldn’t make things much worse.
The discussion became quite contentious for a few minutes and Commissioner Caudle asked attorney Wilhoit to clarify the legal exception regarding a four member board. Mr Wilhoit responded – without speaking into the microphone taxpayers have paid for, so he’s difficult to hear – saying something about the changed dynamic of the board. Commissioner Caudle then pointed out what I stated above about 2018 when Commissioner Lineberry was unable to attend several board meetings.
Mr. Wilhoit then went off topic and began addressing an issue that hadn’t even been brought to the table, Commissioner Cheek’s conflict of interest in being a town commissioner and a paid employee of the department he oversees. Mr. Wilhoit correctly pointed out that North Carolina statutes allow an exemption in the conflict of interest law for towns with populations under 5,000 people. This subject was not germane to the issue being discussed, so what was Mr. Wilhoit’s purpose in bringing it up?
Mr. Cheek stepped in, commenting that “we have citizens that are commenting on this important issue, and saying things that they don’t have no knowledge of…” Don’t worry, Mr. Cheek, we’ll be discussing that important issue soon enough.
The mayor then completed the agenda by announcing several upcoming meetings. He also noted that while he had earlier announced that Commissioner Smith might be submitting his resignation, no such letter had yet been received and the meeting was then adjourned.
When the mayor then came out from behind the desk I asked him again why he had not forwarded a copy of his email to Mr. Allen, as requested. Mr. Shaw replied that he had in fact not emailed Mr. Allen, stating instead that he called him.
This is just one more example of Mayor Danny Shaw’s inability to lead effectively. Too many times he has been caught making contradictory statements to the citizens of this town. The man doesn’t know the difference between an email and a comment in a public online forum, nor can he remember from one minute ot the next whether he communicated with someone by telephone or email, but most of all he simply cannot keep his stories straight. That’s what happens when you twist the truth everywhere you go. If you tell the whole truth all the time you don’t need to worry about what you said, to whom you said it, and when.
Mayor Shaw is either corrupt and cannot be trusted, or is out of touch with the way the world works and cannot keep up with the way information travels today, or there’s an underlying medical issue affecting his memory, which I hope is not the case. No matter which theory is true, Danny Shaw is no longer capable of leading our town government effectively, and should retire at the end of his term this year.
You can listen to the recording of this part of the meeting below.