Setting the record straight.

Well, folks, I’m not a town commissioner this morning, and I’m okay with that. I want to start by congratulating Tresa Hatchett on winning her appointment to the board of commissioners last night. I left shortly after that vote was taken, and yes, I was upset, but not by the fact that anyone else won the seat. I think the board made a good choice.

That said, I want to address a blatant lie spoken by Commissioner Joy Kearns during my so-called interview. She stated that I stood at that podium in the past and said that I wanted to “spit” in her face because she was unvaccinated. That is utterly false and I would never say, let alone do such a thing. My momma raised me better than that. I did stand at that podium on the night of August 17, 2021, and I did chastise Ms. Kearns (then known as Mrs. Hooker) for her despicable behavior.

Recall that during that time we were well over a year into a global pandemic that has now taken the lives of millions worldwide, and ruined the lives of millions more. Our county health department was part of a statewide effort to encourage people to obtain vaccinations against Covid-19, and Hooker/Kearns took offense at the fact that our mayor asked the town’s webmaster to place graphics, from the county health department, on the Ramseur’s official website, to make people aware of a program that offered financial incentives for vaccinations. In the same meeting, Commissioner Parrish incorrectly insisted that if we posted that message then the town had an obligation to give equal space to “the other” which he later clarified to mean those who were anti-vaccination.

Several people spoke that night, as did I. I asked the board members how many among them had taken the vaccine, and Commissioner Hooker stated that she had not and would not take it. I stated that I had been vaccinated and that the night before had attended a concert with 20,000 people. Then I suggested that the commissioner should be willing to let me come sit near her and “breathe all over you”. The word spit never entered my mind, let alone crossed my lips.

Commissioner, you owe me a public apology for that bald-faced lie. I don’t expect to get that apology, and that’s fine. The fact that you are willing to deliberately distort the truth to further your own agenda says far more about you than it does about me.

I am a flawed human being, like anyone else. I make mistakes, and when shown my error I am willing to change course and make apologies when warranted. As anyone who watched that meeting last night can see, I am a much better writer and researcher than I am a public speaker. I walked straight into that ambush, and that’s all it was.

I knew Kearns and Parrish would never vote for me, although to this day I cannot understand why Commissioner Parrish welcomed my support during the election in 2019, benefited from the work I did here, and then almost immediately began treating me like an enemy. I’m guessing it had something to do with the fact that my allegiance cannot be bought. My respect is earned, and it can be lost, and Commissioner, you have lost any respect I ever had for you. I regret voting for you in 2019.

The video below doesn’t lie, but the commissioner did. See for yourself.

And now I’m going to watch the rest of the meeting from last night and see what I missed.

Who should the commissioners appoint?

On January 12, 2023, I sent an email to Mayor Caudle stating my interest in fulfilling Commissioner Jim McIntosh’s unexpired term. That message was in turn forwarded to the town clerk.

I wrote: I was disappointed to hear of Jim McIntosh’s decision to step down before his term ended but given the pressures of the job and the needless drama he had to deal with I can’t blame him.

While I do not possess the knowledge or experience Jim brought to the board, I have spent the last thirty years working around all types of utility maintenance operations, and construction projects of every kind.

My familiarity with these industries would be a valuable asset as the board moves through numerous decisions on water, sewer, stormwater, street maintenance, and growth-related matters we will face over the coming months and years.

In addition, I bring a functional knowledge of how local governments work in our state that most citizens without government-related work experience do not generally have. I gained that knowledge via my reading and writing four years ago in the lead-up to the election in 2019. I bought the “Book” published by the School of Government, have read much of it, and refer to it still when I have questions.

Given the above facts, I think I would bring valuable insights and balance to the Board of Commissioners, and with that in mind I respectfully submit my name for consideration to serve the remaining months of Jim’s term in office.

The book I referred to is County and Municipal Government in North Carolina, published by the UNC School of Government. It cost about $150 with shipping and was money well spent. Of course, owning a book doesn’t mean I think I know all there is to know about how local government works. I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I’ve learned enough to know that we’ve got to do better here.

As Mr. Parrish stated in the last board meeting, being a commissioner, especially in a town without a manager, is harder than most people imagine. It’s not brain surgery, but you do need to be able and willing to do a lot of reading and a lot more learning, and I like to learn.

At the last meeting on January 17th, the mayor asked the commissioners to be prepared to fill that empty seat this coming Tuesday, February 21, 2023, during their next regular monthly meeting.

An advance copy of the upcoming meeting agenda seems to indicate that at least one commissioner, despite possessing a list of applicants for more than a month, wants to conduct interviews instead of voting. What was the last month for, commissioners? Where have you been? I’ve been right here, easy to reach, and I think I’ve made a pretty good case. Were Tanya Kenyon, Tim Matthews, or Joy Kearns interviewed when their appointments were made? If so, how, when, and by whom? I’d like to review the transcripts.

The board really ought to vote Tuesday night. They’ve had more than enough time to consider the question. I think most of us just want to see our local government doing things the right way; moving this town toward a path to long-term stability and well-managed growth and I’ve been offering to help for a long while now. In fact, I’m so willing to help, I’ll do it for free until December when Commissioner McIntosh’s term should have ended.

Call it an olive branch. Call it whatever you want.

There’s a new budget to be written over the coming months, and according to Open the Books Project, Ramseur’s payroll almost doubled between 2019 and 2021. I’ve been looking at past and current budgets, and look forward to digging deeper into that puzzle in the coming weeks, one way or another.