Public comment to the Board of Commissioners, Tuesday, 15, August 2023.

Good evening, Mayor and Commissioners, it’s good to be with you tonight. 

Our board faces many important decisions in the coming months, but tonight you’re only operating at 80% efficiency; Commissioner Cranford’s seat remains vacant. 

Three people filed to run for the three open seats on the ballot this year, and we are all in this room tonight. The five of us will be Ramseur’s commissioners for at least the next two years.  

Some time ago, Commissioner Cranford submitted a request to be excused for an extended leave of absence having to do with his health. I hope tonight finds Tim in a comfortable place and in better health, and I think we all thank him for his service to the community. 

It is my understanding that the members of this board have been within their rights, at any time since accepting Commissioner Cranford’s request for leave, to appoint an interim commissioner to Mr. Cranford’s vacant seat. 

I stand ready to work. 

Thank you.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Jay Hubbard. 

I’ve spent the last thirty-odd years working around just about every type of construction/roadway/right-of-way construction or maintenance you can imagine: I locate underground utilities for a living. I spent almost twenty years working for the public “811” services and a couple of civil engineering firms. I’ve been self-employed as a private consultant for the last 13 years or so.

I’ve been a citizen of Ramseur for about nine years now, and I’m on the ballot this year to fill one of three open seats on our town’s Board of Commissioners.

To me the most important issue facing Ramseur is the same one I’ve been talking about for almost a decade:  Ramseur needs a town manager!

I’ve been told too many times that Ramseur cannot afford a town manager, but I don’t buy it. I say Ramseur can’t afford NOT to hire a manager

Four years after a hard reset in the town offices and turning over the entire elected board we are still at least a full year behind on mandatory state budget audits, and we have become more reliant on outside professionals, contractors, and consultants over the last four years, not less.

This is not the way.

Since I began watching our local government in 2015, we have seen no less than nineteen (19) people occupy the five seats on our board. Over the years I have watched everything from important long-term goals to minor civil ordinance changes get lost in the shuffle as board members came and went.

For example, an ordinance banning engine braking was adopted by the Board of Commissioners back in mid-2019. That board voted to post signs and fine violators, and then the ordinance was forgotten. Signs were never posted. The ban was unenforceable until I wrote about it earlier this year. Within a month the signs were installed.

Another example is the Highway 49 waterline extension. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a pipeline needed to serve a community just north of town where people have been living with contaminated wells for decades.

It’s a project that should have been completed a decade ago or more. Instead, the project was picked up and dropped and picked up, and dropped, and picked up again in 2019 only to be dropped again in, I think it was 2020?

To me, it’s never been a question of whether the water line should be built. The question is how? How do we get there from here? I want to be part of that discussion.

You’ve heard the saying, too many cooks spoil the broth, right? Well, we’ve had too many cooks in Ramseur’s kitchen for too long.

Think about it. A governing board of five essentially random citizens, acting as managers of all the town departments, changing members every few years? That’s a really inefficient way to run anything, especially anything as complex as a town. This lack of cohesive professional management is the root of most of the political drama Ramseur’s Boards have been infamous for since long before I moved into town. Let’s not go backward even further this year.

Having a town manager will reduce miscommunications and misunderstandings across the board. One employee, responsible to the Board of Commissioners, charged with leading our administrative office and overseeing the management of every department the town operates is the continuity and stability Ramseur so badly needs to prosper and grow sensibly in the coming years.

Having a qualified town manager would allow Ramseur’s Commissioners more oversight and input into policy decisions, not less, and I hope it will ultimately lead to more citizen engagement with the board and its decisions.

These are improvements I think most of us would like to see, and I’m looking forward to being a part of how we get there.

Doing the right thing.

A little over two months ago I told you that I would not be running for a seat on the Ramseur Board of Commissioners this year.  When I wrote that statement I meant it, but someone has to step up and start asking the hard questions, demanding straight answers, and pumping the brakes when commissioners want to do things that are ineffective, inefficient, or downright unethical, and I don’t see anyone doing that.

You’re going to hear a lot of garbage over the next few months, coming from people who either want to replace our mayor and take us backward ten to twenty years. You’re also likely to hear a bunch of nonsense from those who want to maintain the status quo because that somehow benefits them. Rest assured all of it will be just that, garbage.

We’ve watched members of this board spend most of the last few years wasting money – our money – on high-priced consultants and professional services, but we’re still several YEARS behind on budget audits, and not just one audit, several. I think the correct number is three fiscal years, but getting information out of that office is harder than pulling teeth these days, so don’t quote me on that detail.

Unfinished budget audits mean less grant money available for our town, and at this point there’s no excuse for being so far behind. We can’t even fully implement the “Southern” accounting software, which this board began talking about soon after taking office in 2020, because we can’t get an accurate accounting of our finances! This is beyond unacceptable.

No one on the board now wants to discuss moving toward a more permanent and sustainable way of managing our town and its enterprises. I want to have that conversation, and I think many of you do as well. I want to talk about our options for sustaining and growing our water and sewer infrastructure, but I’m not convinced that the town of Ramseur needs to go it alone in that regard, nor do I believe that I have all the answers.

I want to have those discussions and many others that this board seems unwilling or unable to entertain. It’s hard to have adult conversations with people who want to point fingers or hide behind false identities to play games on the Internet, but these discussions need to happen or some of those decisions will be made for us by people who don’t live here.

There’s only one thing for me to do, and that’s to put my name on a ballot. Today I am asking you to give me the opportunity to help fix this. How? By being the kind of commissioner who refuses to jump off cliffs until I know where I’m going to land. Decisions with far-reaching consequences should not get pushed through with less than five minutes of discussion or zero debate.

I believe it’s better to get caught doing the right thing than to go along to get along. That means asking hard questions and demanding good answers before any vote is taken or insisting that issues be tabled for more study and doing your homework. It means voting against the majority, even if you have to stand alone when you know that there are better options or more correct ways of getting things done.

I’m not a good campaigner, and I’m certainly not a politician. I tell people what I really think instead of what they want to hear, and I’ve never been one to sugarcoat the truth. I may even speak in an abrasive manner at times, but I will always tell you what I believe is the truth, and if new information changes my opinion I’m not afraid of being wrong.

About nine years ago I bought a house in the middle of Ramseur, and I will probably live there until the day I die. I have a vested interest in the success of this municipality, and everything to lose if it doesn’t succeed. I would much rather be at home making art, or digging in my garden, or at band practice making music, but since I had a hand in creating this mess four years ago, I feel that I owe you – my neighbors – the opportunity to either accept what I have to offer or tell me to go home.

We often hear candidates for public office talk about their accomplishments in the business world, the number of employees they’ve directed, or the big budgets they’ve managed, and while those people often do have something to offer, I know how to make do with less. I raised two kids and started a business that I’ve been running now for almost thirteen years, on one modest income, so yes, I know a little something about operating on a shoestring, stretching dollars, and getting creative in order to survive.

In Ramseur, where all we ever hear about is how we can’t afford this or that solution, knowing how to make do with less seems like a good skill to bring to the table. So yes, this year I am a candidate for a seat on the board of commissioners because it seems like the right thing to do.

“F**k you, f**k your mama, and f**k your sister.”

The headline above is one I never expected to publish on this website, and I apologize to those whom it may offend, but it’s necessary. They are not my words. They are the exact words that 79-year-old, former Ramseur mayor Hampton “Happy” Spivey shouted at me from the bottom of the front steps of the municipal office after a community information meeting tonight.

Spivey followed me out of the building and waited until I was over 100 feet away before yelling at me, “Hubbard, you don’t know shit.” This is from a man who hasn’t been to a meeting since he resigned in disgrace about a decade ago, so I suspect he doesn’t know “shit” either anymore, especially at almost eighty years old.

I admit it, I yelled something equally nice back at him after that first comment, and that’s when he yelled, “Fuck you, fuck your mama, and fuck your sister!” I don’t have a sister, Mr. Spivey, so screw you right back, asshole!

My response was, “The best thing that ever happened to this town was the day you took a swing in public and got sent home.” Unfortunately, the old geezer couldn’t hear me and asked me to repeat it, so I did, at a volume level I’m pretty sure could be heard across the river.

This was the first time I ever laid eyes on Mr. Spivey in the more than eight years I’ve been a citizen of this town. In fact, you can probably hear my friend, Mr. Cheek, identify him to me in the video. It’s unfortunate that I cut the recorder off as soon as the meeting ended, but there was at least one witness. Sitting in the SUV next to where old Happy was standing when he verbally assaulted me was Mr. Benware, who sits on our planning board. There’s no way he didn’t hear what Spivey was spouting.

Anyway, the video below captured most of the meeting, and I’m sorry the sound quality is no better. If Commissioner Parrish really wanted to inform the public he would have had “his” camera running. It ought to run anytime any public meeting takes place in that room. I still say Ramseur needs to join in or help create a regional water authority, but that would take a little control away from Commissioner Parrish, and we all know that being in control of everything is his top priority.

You know, I really don’t feel up to running for a seat this year, but that old s.o.b. might make me change my mind.

Yes, Regis, that’s my final answer.

I’ve considered running for a seat on our board of commissioners off and on for many years now. I know I’d make a good board member; I do my homework and show up prepared, and I won’t go along to get along.

I also recognize that aside from those qualities, I make a terrible candidate. The list of reasons why is longer than I wish to bore you with today, but that’s the truth.

I will NOT be a candidate for any office in this town this year or any time in the foreseeable future.

Does anyone else see the problem here?

The video above is a compilation of parts of three Ramseur board of commissioners meetings showing the timeline and discussion leading up to a pretty significant change in how we constitute our planning board here.

On December 20, 2022, Commissioner Parrish proposed an amendment to the administrative ordinance in our town’s corporate charter governing how many members sit on our planning board and where they must live. At that time the rule stipulated that all five planning board members must be residents of the Town of Ramseur. Mr. Parrish proposed a change that would allow planning board members to be anyone living within one mile of Ramseur’s corporate limits. His reasoning for this had to do with how hard it is to get people to serve on that particular board, so he wanted to expand the pool.

Counsellor Wilhoit expressed concern that a public hearing might be necessary to make such a change and the issue was tabled. The intention, on December 20, was to discuss and possibly take action during a special meeting scheduled for January 10, but that did not occur. Instead, the discussion resumed at the January 17 meeting. A motion was made, seconded, and approved, with a minimal quorum of only three commissioners, zero discussion among board members, and without any public comment, let alone a public hearing, and now non-taxpayers get a vote in how our zoning ordinances are written and any other work done by the planning board.

On February 10, 2023, I wrote, “[W]hen I was researching ETJ, I found a couple of sections in chapter 160D that apply specifically to planning boards and boards of adjustment, how they are to be composed, and what the function of an alternate should be.

“[T]he alternates our commissioners are always searching for belong to the board of adjustment, not the planning board. There should not be alternate members on our planning board any more than there should be alternate members of the board of commissioners allowed to sit, discuss, and vote on issues before that board when a commissioner can’t attend meetings.”

It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Parrish read my article, and he understands that I know what I’m talking about better than he does because immediately after appointing Sanda Bullin to the planning board during the February 21 meeting, despite the fact that there were already five seated members, the next issue the commissioner wanted to discuss had to do with the board of adjustment – currently the board of commissioners – and changes that need to be made to that board. The thought that a decision he could be involved in might end up in court absolutely terrifies Mr. Parrish. See for yourself, the clip is only about three minutes long

Unfair? No, it’s not fairness the commissioner is concerned about. He’s terrified of landing on the wrong side of a legal decision and having his name stuck to it. In other words, he’s afraid of being made to look foolish. Sorry, commissioner, it’s much too late for that.

Commissioner Parrish claims to be concerned about the looming growth of our community, and that is a legitimate concern, but instead of slowing down and following the process for adopting ETJ and then dealing with the question of representation, the commissioner was in an almost frantic rush to appoint Ms. Bullin to that board. The question I think we’re all asking is, why? What’s the hurry? Why not follow the process laid out by our legislators in Raleigh? Why is it so important to have Ms. Bullin, who lives outside our town and does not pay our taxes, sitting on that board and able to vote?

Commissioner Parrish is so concerned about this issue that he wants to circumvent the rules laid out in Chapters 160D-202 & 307, and change parts of our town’s corporate charter so he can appoint the candidate of his choosing, rather than risk letting the county commissioners appoint someone of their choosing when the appropriate time arrives. The only change our corporate charter needs is the one that would mandate hiring a town manager.

The state only requires three members to sit on our planning board. Not five; three. Prior to the meeting on February 21, according to our town’s official website, there were already five members, and as I have proven, no alternate members are needed for that board.

If we can’t get a quorum of three people to show up for planning board meetings perhaps the solution isn’t loading it full of your own toadies Mr. Parrish. Maybe a better solution would be to shrink the board to its statutory minimum of three members until such time as Ramseur does adopt an ETJ, and then, following the proper statutory process, we could add one or even two residents from that area to the planning board.

Mr. Parrish, I know you read that article because you’re an email subscriber to this site, and I know you understood at least enough of it to know that you wanted to wash your hands of all that tricky sticky board of adjustment business. But you had worked so carefully to accommodate Sandra’s appointment over the past few months I guess you must have felt obligated to see it through, so you stayed the course and steered that boat right onto the reef. Oh, sure, changing that administrative ordinance may have been legal, but you and I and most other citizens of our community know that what you did was unnecessary and self-serving, and we will not forget.

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.

What’s a moratorium, and why would Ramseur impose one on legal businesses?

In America, we’re not supposed to let the government pick winners and losers; that’s what the free market is supposed to be for, or so I was taught. Business moratoria are such a serious business that the state of North Carolina imposes very strict regulations on how, when, and why a municipality can ban, even temporarily, any otherwise legal business. Last December, our board of commissioners imposed a 120 days moratorium on any new ‘electronic gaming establishments’ in Ramseur.

I really don’t care about electronic gaming places one way or the other. I do think they send most of the money they collect out of our community, and that’s not ideal, and if they are breaking the law, then shut’em down, but if Raleigh says they’re legal, I thought the American way was to let the market decide whether they survive or not.

Here is a link to the relevant statute:  § 160D-107.  Moratoria

The statute says “local governments may adopt temporary moratoria on any development approval required by law, except for the purpose of developing and adopting new or amended plans or development regulations governing residential uses. The duration of any moratorium shall be reasonable in light of the specific conditions that warrant imposition of the moratorium and may not exceed the period of time necessary to correct, modify, or resolve such conditions.

Except in cases of imminent and substantial threat to public health or safety, before adopting a development regulation imposing a development moratorium the governing board shall hold a legislative hearing. 

Moratorium does not apply to any project for which a valid building permit [has been] issued, to any project for which a special use permit application has been accepted as complete, to development set forth in a site-specific vesting plan  [already] approved, to development for which substantial expenditures have already been made in good-faith reliance on a prior valid development approval, or to preliminary or final subdivision plats that have been accepted for review by the local government prior to the call for a hearing to adopt the moratorium. 

Required Statements. – Any development regulation establishing a development moratorium must include, at the time of adoption, each of the following:

(1)        A statement of the problems or conditions necessitating the moratorium and what courses of action, alternative to a moratorium, were considered by the local government and why those alternative courses of action were not deemed adequate.

(2)        A statement of the development approvals subject to the moratorium and how a moratorium on those approvals will address the problems or conditions leading to imposition of the moratorium.

(3)        A date for termination of the moratorium and a statement setting forth why that duration is reasonably necessary to address the problems or conditions leading to imposition of the moratorium.

(4)        A statement of the actions, and the schedule for those actions, proposed to be taken by the local government during the duration of the moratorium to address the problems or conditions leading to imposition of the moratorium.

No moratorium may be subsequently renewed or extended for any additional period unless the local government has taken all reasonable and feasible steps proposed to be taken in its ordinance establishing the moratorium to address the problems or conditions leading to imposition of the moratorium and unless new facts and conditions warrant an extension. 

Any person aggrieved by the imposition of a moratorium on development approvals required by law may apply to the General Court of Justice for an order enjoining the enforcement of the moratorium.

That’s a lot to keep track of, and I don’t think our board made much of an effort to meet all those requirements.

The commissioners held a mandatory legislative hearing that only one person seemed to care anything about, and he didn’t care much because he left before it ended. It was a very short hearing. Then, during the regular meeting that followed, Commissioner Parrish moved to impose a 120 days moratorium so our planning board – chaired by someone who lives in Greensboro – and our police department can “work on” our ordinances and/or figure out what occupied piece of real estate in town they can re-zone for ‘adult’ businesses. That way if anyone comes to town looking for a place to open an electronic game room, a gentlemen’s club, a bar, or any legal ‘adult’ business, the only parcel of land zoned for that use will already be occupied by a house, a lube shop, a grocery store, or maybe even a church; any developed real estate that won’t likely become unoccupied in the near future will do.

Does this sound ridiculous yet?

When imposing an economic moratorium a governing board must state what issues made the moratorium necessary; how it will address those problems; issue a statement addressing any pending zoning permits, special use permits, variances, etc. that will be subject to the moratorium; state how a moratorium on those ventures will address the stated issues; set an end date for the moratorium; say why it’s going to take that long; and produce a schedule of specific actions that will be taken during the moratorium.

I watched an elected Ramseur commissioner suggest, in a recorded public meeting, how to keep legal businesses out of our town, but if a business is legal and operating within the law that’s a really questionable thing for our government to be doing. I felt dirty after watching that video; like I needed to bathe. I thought chamber of commerce people were supposed to encourage business growth in a town, not tell them to stay away.

During the discussion, the commissioner spoke of police officers “going out there,” and “warning them about certain situations”.  Please tell us, commissioner, who is “them,” where are they, and what situations were you talking about. Give us details. Don’t roll up in our town hall and impose restrictions on the local economy without a stack of evidence to support your actions. Does the business in question have a name we might recognize? Is it located at an address we could find on a map? Are there police reports of actual incidents at that place of business that citizens could request and read?

I can’t speak for any other taxpayers in Ramseur, but I get really tired of all the fearmongering I hear coming from that seat on our board, used as excuses to spend more money or restrict commerce.  A simple statement like, “On (date) patrolman X responded to a call about Y at 123 Sesame Street about activity Z and took actions A, B, or C,” and a police report or three to back it up would go a long way towards helping everyone understand from what or whom you want to protect us.

If whatever is going on wherever it’s happening is so bad that it merits this kind of heavy-handed interference in the local economy – a moratorium on a legal business type – the board of commissioners and its planning board are both failing, because this isn’t the first moratorium that I can recall. We keep doing this again and again, like some bad remake of the movie, Groundhog Day, and there’s no excuse. As commissioners, this is your job, and in my opinion, you have all failed. If conditions somewhere are so bad that we need to take this kind of drastic action, we need to be provided with concrete facts, not vague fearmongering about bad elements and unspecified problems.

An assertion was also made that neighboring business owners have complained about a lack of parking for their customers. That’s a fair complaint, but it sounds like a problem caused by inadequate zoning regulations in the past, which allowed commercial development without adequate parking. I suspect the properties in question were developed long ago, maybe even before Ramseur had zoning ordinances. Perhaps we should ask that guy from Greensboro about it since he’s been meddling in our local government for decades.

Commissioner Parrish stated that problems “come around those businesses,” and that, in turn, leads to increased call volume for the police department and strains the budget. He further stated that the imposition of this moratorium “gives us time to work on our ordinances,” and “provide safety to our community.” A moratorium also “gives us time (120 days) to work on our ordinances”.

Would these be the same ordinances that we paid a consultant thousands of dollars to help us update a couple of years ago to meet the new chapter 160D mandates?  The same ordinances we now need to spend more money paying yet another consultant to review? The same ordinances that non-residents of Ramseur get to vote on now?

Exactly what are the “problems that come around those businesses.”?

Someone on the board must have asked that question because on the video members of the police department can be heard telling the board members about how a “bad element” follows these businesses, and how the patrons of these establishments often lose all their money and then break into nearby homes or businesses to steal more money to gamble.

I see headlines about people getting shot at nightclubs and bars, and maybe even at these gaming businesses too, somewhere, just like you do, but if people in Ramseur were being robbed by disgruntled fish skill players I think we’d all know about it. Show me concrete evidence of a crime wave like this in our community and I’ll be the first in line to look for ways to address it.

As for the commissioner’s statement that electronic gaming establishments cause an unmanageable increase in police calls and strain the budget; no, I’m sorry, you don’t get to tell us that more calls to 911 help justify increased funding for our police department, and then tell us that more calls strain your department or our budget. I mean no disrespect to our police officers. They have a very stressful, often dangerous job to do and limited funds to do it with, but you can’t have it both ways.

Worst of all was the bit at the end where the commissioner and the attorney sat there passing judgment on people who make a living letting other people waste money on electronic games. The commissioner actually sat there, in a recorded public meeting, and explained how a local government can re-zone any given property to keep otherwise legal businesses out of Ramseur. The recording doesn’t lie, and the scheme described would generate more paperwork and expensive permitting processes that, for now, only a paid consultant can walk our planning board through.

This moratorium was a bad idea and I’m having a hard time understanding how the statutory statements read into the record did anything constructive for our town, let alone how all of this doesn’t leave us vulnerable to expensive legal action from any competent land development attorney.