My last report contained the good news that a staff request to apply for a grant to fund hiring a new staff member for CARTS was denied! The vote actually was a non-partisan NO! Five No, Commissioner Sampson voted Yes and Commissioner McCabe’s vote was not audible.
Well, at the first meeting his month, STAFF SAW TO IT THAT THE Commissioners would not get confused by a citizen bringing negative aspects of their plans to light. They called a “work session” at which citizens were not allowed to speak before the regularly scheduled Board Meeting at which citizens could speak.
At this special “work session” the Board of Commissioners approved the hiring of two new staff members. NEVER A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHERE SOME BELT TIGHTENING COULD BE DONE SO THAT HIRING OF NEW STAFF MEMBERS WOULD NOT EVENTUALLY RESULT IN MORE SPENDING BY THE COUNTY!
The authority to hire was taken up in two different motions. The Commissioners voted: Tom Mark-Yes to both, Scott Dacey-Yes to both, Theron McCabe- Yes to both, Johnnie Sampson- Yes to both, Jason Jones-Yes to both, George Liner-Yes to both, Steve Tyson-Yes to both.
Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood. I did not indicate that CCTA objects to the two positions, but the manner in which the hiring authority was considered and approved without the opportunity for public comment and with no discussion of reduction in spending elsewhere to accommodate this increase in personnel.
Here is my account of something else that happened: One Monday, November 6, I got a call from John Droz, a physicist who lives in Morehead City. John said he’d seen Craven County Commissioner, Scott Dacey, at a tea party meeting in Carteret County, and Scott was excited to tell him that the Craven County ordinance that regulates industrial wind turbines is being re-written and that the new ordinance would be much better and more like the ordinance passed in Carteret. Commissioner Dacey subsequently emailed John a copy of what he thought at the time was a copy of the new proposed ordinance.
Initially, John Droz was pleased, but when he looked at the “new” wind law, he concluded it was “not materially different from the existing one.” John has developed a system to evaluate wind turbine laws and whether they protect the health, safety, and welfare of citizens. He assigns 20 points to each of five areas of concern, so a perfect law would get 100 points.
The areas John looks at are setbacks, acoustics, property value protection, environmental concerns, and decommissioning requirements. Setbacks and acoustics are particularly important to citizens’ health and property values concerns.
When John looked at Craven’s ordinance, he gave it 15 points for the decommissioning aspects of it and zero points for anything else. That’s 15 points out of a possible 100 points. He said, “Out of the 200 (plus or minus) U.S. local wind laws I’ve seen, this is one of the worst.” By way of comparison, he gave Carteret’s ordinance 100 points.
It turns out that Commissioner Dacey mistakenly sent John a copy of the existing ordinance.
At the Craven Commissioners’ work session the proposed wind ordinance was discussed and was actually compared to the current Carteret ordinance. At one point, a participant in the discussion said that it is obvious that the objective of the Carteret ordinance is to prevent wind turbines from being built. A discussion of a moratorium came up and was briefly discussed. No action was taken.
AT today’s Board meeting County manager, Jack Viet said that the process to affect a moratorium would take several months and that changes to the ordinance could be done just as quickly and that staff would work on it.
The Board also approved a request from the ABC Board to purchase a parcel of land on which to build a new ABC store for Bridgeton. The important thing about that is that heretofore the ABC Board has rented buildings or shopping center space to house their stores. When this subject came up a prior meeting, Commissioner Tyson pointed that out and said he would rather the government rent from the private sector than to spend taxpayer money expanding government holdings. After the meeting I asked Commissioner Tyson why he had changed his mind and he said he honestly did not know.
Today’s meeting was a continuation of freely spending taxpayer money on boondoggles without open discussion. An Example:
REQUEST FROM VETERANS EMPLOYMENT BASE CAMP AND ORGANIC GARDENING: The Executive Director of a “non-profit” organization named “Veteran’s Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden” requested the Commissioner’s support for it’s grant application for the “City Farmers Market Center Project.” With glowing talk about the great things they are going to do for veterans and the Duffyfield section of New Bern, no mention was made of the amount of taxpayer money to be spent and in what manner. Nor that the ultimate goal is to replace the present farmer’s market that is privately run with a government/non-profit conglomerate that really knows how to spend taxpayer money on boondoggles. NO MENTION OF THE GRANT AMOUNT OF $400,000 that is to be applied for, nor the City of New Bern’s grant of $1.5 MILLION to develop the site. Pretty soon these grants are going to amount to real money! Wonder what the director’s job of this Non-profit pays?
Anyway, this request was approved. I believe I heard one mumbled Nay.
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman