Craven County Board of Commissioners- Consent Agenda

CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT & Request for HELP !!!

3 April 2015

Craven County Board of Commissioners- Consent Agenda

We have had a great deal of discussion about the prospects of the Craven County BOC’s return to a “Consent Agenda.”  As most of you know, a little over 4 years ago, there was a shift from the Democratic control of the Board to Republican control.  Now, we are a non-partisan organization, but many of us were hopeful that the newly constituted Board would be more open in the conduct of the citizens’ business.  And indeed they were.  Many of their innovations are very helpful such as more financial and budget information on the county website and allowing citizen input at the the Monday evening sessions after having a chance to review the agenda and without having to sign up to petition several days in advance.  Another very important change was the elimination of the Consent Agenda.  This device is used by many governing bodies to rush business through without public scrutiny.

Alas, we have had another change in the elected Representatives on the Board.  Commissioner Allen was replaced by Commissioner Liner who has until recently been on Havelock’s  Board of Commissioners.  Commissioner Liner thinks use of a Consent Agenda is just fine and saves a lot of time and talk about inconsequential  spending of taxpayer money.  (I have seldom seen this Board tarry long in spending taxpayer money.)  Commissioner Jones seems to have signed on to this philosophy, although he vows that he is willing to spend whatever time it takes to conduct the people’s business. (Go figger; it seems contradictory to me.)   Anyway, the two Democrats are nice people personally, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen either of them vote “no” to spending taxpayer money, and they would like to have their way for a change.   YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING!

We want to let the public know that we don’t like this trend!  Please show up at 6:30 PM, and let’s cause a fuss outside the building.  BRING SIGNS, NOISE MAKERS, WHATEVER!

BUT- BE AWARE.  On the agenda for the meeting is consideration of proposed amendments to the Commissioners’ Rules of Procedure.  These changes provide for a Consent Agenda, but place some restrictions on its use.  On page 7 of Attachment 3, you can read them.  It says the Board may allow for a consent agenda.  Notice it did not say to automatically use one.  Minutes, Resolutions and Proclamations, Minor Subdivision Approvals, Road Additions to the State DOT System, and (GET THIS) Matters at the Discretion of the Chairman or Manager.  Wow!  That surely leaves it wide open!  THE MANAGER IS NOT EVEN AN ELECTED OFFICIAL.  Way too much power for him or ANY one person to hold.  The Board keeps shifting more power to him!  Tain’t right.  It’s almost at the point at which one could say that the Board is making figure-heads of themselves, and turning the power to govern over to unelected  bureaucrats.  This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

IT GOES ON TO SAY- In no event may Budget amendments in excess of $5,000 (ANY money to a non-profit or welfare program should at least be discussed), Grant Agreements, Permits, Franchises, or Contracts be on a Consent Agenda.  Well, at least, that shows that they did think about our objections, but they are very reluctant to yield entirely to our input.

Attachment 3 also deals with other aspects of Open Meetings.  One important provision is on Page 6, Section V. (b).  It says, “Documents in the agenda packet, if not previously available for public inspection, shall become so when packets have been delivered to each Board member or left at his or her usual dwelling.”   I hope to see this strictly observed by all staff personnel.  They should stop handing papers to the Board members at the last minute and not having them available for whomever wants one.

The rest can keep until after the meeting.

In case you don’t know where to find the agenda here is a link.

AGENDA

Respectfully submitted,

Hal James

CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

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