Remarks To Randolph NAACP, 11 May 2019
I was asked to post a copy of my remarks to the local NAACP chapter this past Saturday. I spoke to tell my side of a complaint that Grant Cheek, a Ramseur Town Commissioner, filed against me with that organization. He spoke to them at their regular meeting last month. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a copy or a recording of his remarks to compare.
On 10 November 2015, Grant Cheek was elected to a seat on the Ramseur Board of Commissioners and was appointed to “head” Ramseur’s water and sewer department. That same year, I ran and lost a race for mayor of Ramseur against Danny Shaw.
By about February of 2016 the position of water-billing clerk had become vacant and Commissioner Cheek began volunteering, doing that job, until a replacement could be found. Eventually his peers on the board took action, first voting to compensate Mr. Cheek for his time, and later voting to hire him full time. Thus Grant Cheek became Ramseur’s water-billing/deputy town clerk, and a sitting commissioner in charge of the department he is employed within.
For most of 2016 and 2017 I did not attend town meetings, but in December 2017, following the election of Vicki Caudle and Randy Cox to the board, I began paying attention again, and eventually I had a question, so I paid a visit to the mayor and Mr. Cheek at the municipal office. I forget the exact question now, but soon I was asked by Mayor Shaw if I would be willing to serve an unexpired term. I was aware of Joe Lineberry’s deteriorating health so I reluctantly agreed because trying to help when I’m asked is just who I am.
Over the next several months, I began stopping in at the municipal office to try to learn all I could and be ready when called. At first, Mayor Shaw and Mr. Cheek spoke of having Commissioner Overman removed from office. They described incidents in which Mr. Overman was alleged to have used racial insults toward Mr. Cheek and threatened violence against both men. Around that time Mr. Cheek brought a civil lawsuit against the town, Commissioner Overman, and the late Commissioner Joe Lineberry, which was settled out of court. Mr. Cheek was awarded $15,000. At least some of the allegations mentioned in the written complaint he submitted to President Matthews were part of that lawsuit.
From approximately January through July of 2018, both Mayor Shaw and Grant Cheek repeatedly made statements to the effect that they wanted to appoint me to the board. Eventually Commissioner Randy Cox joined them in what turned out to be a charade. Mayor Shaw even went so far as to tell Ramseur citizens Scott Floyd and William Brown, in my presence, that I was going to be the next appointed commissioner. Shaw also told my friends David and Karen Turner words to that effect on the day they came from Bessemer City to formalize their work designing and hosting the town’s official website.
On 5 August 2018, Adam Smith, Cheek’s next door neighbor, who had lived in Ramseur only four months, was appointed to the board. Video of that night prove that Cheek, Shaw, and Cox had conspired ahead of time to appoint Smith. Shaw could not even contain himself enough to follow regular order and rushed through appointment process. Yes, I was angry that night. Who wouldn’t be after having been lied to for months by these three men?
I have been told that at last month’s meeting of this organization (Randolph County NAACP), Mr. Cheek told those in attendance that I demanded to be appointed to that seat. That is not true. I simply but directly asked to have my name entered into nomination and given an up or down vote, but I was prepared to accept any outcome. I think that was the least these three men owed me, having spent so many months expressing their desire to have me on the board at every opportunity.
During the months leading up to that night in August, Cheek, Cox, and Shaw worked to turn me against Commissioners Caudle and Overman. They portrayed Caudle as a power hungry woman overstepping her place when, in fact, she simply desires to see Ramseur move forward and have a better, more transparent government. At some point in 2016 or 2017, Commissioner Overman, initially charged with overseeing the public works department, was removed from that position. His duties were given to Cheek, who now oversees water, sewer, streets, and public works, in addition to holding the water billing clerk’s position during the day.
After Smith’s appointment, I left the meeting fed up with the underhandedness I had just witnessed, but I continued watching the videos of meetings that Tim Matthews had been posting to YouTube. Watching those videos made my blood boil. At every turn, Cheek, along with Smith, Cox, and the mayor, did everything in his power to stymie everything Commissioner Caudle tried to do. Following the November 2018 meeting, I was informed that after that meeting, Mr. Smith had attempted to intimidate Tim Matthews in an effort to get him to stop recording meetings. This was not only a blatant attempt to violate Mr. Matthews’ First Amendment rights but also a violation of North Carolina’s open meetings law which expressly states that citizens have a right to record any government meetings which are held in open session.
I decided to get a camera of my own and begin recording the meetings as well. Then, at the December 2018 meeting (before I could secure proper recording equipment), Mayor Shaw, Commissioner Cheek, and Mr. Smith brought a last minute resolution to the floor. The Board voted to spend our tax dollars to hire a lawyer to try and expose the anonymous administrators of a Facebook page called Ramseur Watchdog 2. That page serves as a forum for Ramseur citizens to discuss the actions of our town government and elected officials. Many town officials do not like the page because comments are often critical of them.
I made the first post to my website, RamseurWatchdog.com, on December 20, 2018. I began recording meetings in January 2019. I put my name on everything posted there, and comments are not allowed on the site. Articles I publish there are shared on social media where comments conversations do take place.
I should also note that during the 2015 municipal election cycle, when I ran against Mayor Shaw, there was a different Facebook page called Ramseur Watchdog, which has since been deleted.That page was run anonymously, as well, but was critical of me and others not in line with Mayor Shaw’s reelection agenda. Whoever was behind it anonymously committed libel against my wife and me by calling us Satanists, among other things.
As of 10 May 2019, I had published sixty-two articles at RamseurWatchdog.com critical of not only Mr. Cheek but also Mr. Smith, Mr. Cox, and Mayor Shaw. I was also, before my creation of this website, highly critical of Commissioner Caudle in a letter to the editor of the Courier-Tribune, and I have been fiercely critical of Commissioner Overman, though not in writing. Not once have I written anything derogatory about Commissioner Cheek’s race and I never will. That is not who I am.
I criticize public officials caught misusing their positions, who make false or misleading statements, or who use our tax dollars in a wasteful or impractical manner. Mr. Cheek holds his job as our town water-billing clerk due to an exception in North Carolina law. That is an undisputed fact. His position as commissioner in charge of water, sewer, streets, and public works departments creates what I and many others believe is a conflict of interest. In his capacity as water-billing clerk, he reports to the Town Clerk, who herself serves at the pleasure of the Board of Commissioners, of which Grant Cheek is a member. In other words, he is his boss’s boss and also her employee. I have called for him to resign from one position or the other as soon as possible. This demand is in line with a precedent set in 2011 when another Ramseur commissioner was forced to resign under very similar circumstances.
I have documented professional tree trimmers working on Mr. Cheek’s property and two others in the same neighborhood. I have also documented contractors employed by the town of Ramseur removing the brush created by that work from Mr. Cheek’s property in blatant violation of town ordinances. Grant Cheek got caught abusing his position as an elected official and I have demanded that he be held accountable.
I also reported misuse of taxpayer money and unethical behavior, including the verbal assault of a citizen inside the municipal office, by Commissioner Adam Smith and demanded his resignation numerous times. I have documented Mayor Shaw misstating facts (lying) and attempting to undermine my words in public and I have called for him to resign. And when Commissioner Randy Cox spent several years living in an RV behind a business he rents downtown, the last year or more while a sitting commissioner, in blatant violation of state minimum housing standards and town ordinances, I called for his resignation as well.
Three of these four men are caucasian. Not once have I used racial slurs or other language to single out Mr. Cheek. I am only interested in his actions in his capacity as an elected official and a town employee. Mr. Cheek’s allegations are false and defamatory and an insult to the history and mission of the NAACP.