NC Open Meeting Law and Craven County Board of Commissioners

Watchdog Report

Craven County Board of Commissioners meeting, September 5, 2017

This meeting was another one that was strange to me.  It was conducted strictly in accordance with NC’s Open Meeting Laws.  Could it be that our commissioners are aware now of the lawsuit that citizens in Beaufort County have filed against the Board of Commissioners there for violations of those laws?  Of course, merely speculation on my part.

The first inkling I had of it was when citizens making petitions to the Board were instructed to hand all materials they wanted the Commissioners to see to the clerk.  Chairman Mark said that they were not allowed to accept materials.  As far as I know commissioners did not look at any of the materials that had been provided by citizens during the meeting.

In the past I have complained abut County Manager, Jack Veit’s passing printed materials out to the Commissioners without providing copies for citizens in attendance.  At this meeting he showed everything he presented to the commissioners with a projector.

The net effect of all this was to make the commissioners even more distant from the citizens.

I was one of the petitioners.  I told the commissioners about a meeting that Raynor and I have been invited to attend with staff at the NC Treasurer’s office on local debt.  I asked if the Commissioners would like me to deliver any comments that they would like to make on the subject to the people in attendance at that meeting.  I also read the amount of each class of debt that the county has that I obtained from the NC Treasurer’s website and asked that if current debt was significantly different, I would like to be informed of that.  I made no comment other than that about the debt.

Commissioner Tyson was the first commissioner to give a report just before the close of the meeting (they each give a report at the close of all their meetings).  Commissioner Tyson stated that, in spite of reports by one individual (meaning me), the sky is not falling.  That the county is in excellent financial condition, tax rates are among the lowest in the state, and the debt was for the water system that had been mandated by the State.

At his opportunity, Commissioner Dacey said that someone (surely me) had complained that the county budget is always growing.  He asserted that the reason is that the county is always providing more for the citizens.  He said citizens could go on his website and see a list of all agencies that are making contributions to the well being of Craven’s citizens and how to get in touch with them.  He also stated that growth in the budget was largely federal and state money, and that whoever doesn’t like it could complain to Congressman Jones and our state representatives.

The meeting was well attended by citizens, most of whom were there to urge the Commission to support the adoption of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.   As we were leaving, Commissioner Tyson followed me out and yelled at me about “fake news” etc.  I just ignored him and continued to walk.

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