Dissension at the Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting



The Monday, December 7th, 2015, Craven County Board of Commissioners meeting played out exactly as predicted by the persistent rumors we’d been hearing.

First, Commissioner Tom Mark (Republican) nominated Commissioner Scott Dacey (Republican) to serve as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the coming year.  Then, Commissioner Theron McCabe (Democrat) nominated George Liner (Republican) for the Chairmanship.  There was no debate, discussion, or candidate speeches.  The vote was quickly taken.  All three Democrats voted for Commissioner Liner, and Commissioner Liner voted for himself.  All three remaining Republicans voted for Commissioner Dacey.  In essence, Commissioner Liner cast the deciding vote for himself.

What followed was equally astounding.  Commissioner Tom Mark was nominated for Vice Chairman.  He declined the nomination saying the voting record of the newly elected Chairman was not in keeping with his own thinking, and he did not believe they would work well together.  Then, one after another each of the remaining Commissioners were nominated for Vice Chairman, and one after another they declined the nomination. The final Commissioner nominated was Commissioner Johnnie Sampson, and he accepted with some gracious words about Board members having worked well together over the many years he’s been a participant.  The vote followed the same pattern as the vote for Chairman, so Commissioner Sampson will serve as Vice Chairman.

Are the naysayers right who declare that there is not a nickel’s worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican parties? It often appears that way, but if the Republican party made sure that candidates for office agreed with the Republican Platform and held their feet to the fire to vote that way, there would be a tremendous difference!

Back to the Board meeting…
During the day yesterday after the email went out forewarning that what did take place might take place, Commissioner George Liner called me, and said that there had been no “back room deal.”  He said that all he had done was to ask Commissioner McCabe to nominate him for the Chairman’s position.  Commissioner Liner said Commissioner McCabe responded that he would consider it.  It is possible that that is all it would take.  Commissioner Liner may have guessed that Commissioner McCabe would discuss it with his fellow Democrats.  Who knows for sure?

Anyway, the important thing is that a new coalition of Commissioners seems to consist of three Democrats and one Republican.  It appears that control has been thus removed from the elected Republican majority.

In the Petitions of Citizens segment of the meeting, Joshua Humphrey blasted the Board for the obvious staging of the election. Josh pointed out that no nominee spoke as to his qualifications, or of the direction he wanted the Board to take, or any of the usual attributes of a true election. Instead, they quietly voted for or against the nominees down party lines except for the bolting of Commissioner Liner from the Republican ranks. Josh added that it was a slap in the face of all citizens who voted for Commissioner Liner thinking they were electing a Republican in the last general election.

In other citizens’ petitions, my wife, Raynor, and Ray Griffin both urged the board to adopt changes in county ordinances that would do as Pitt and Person counties appear to be about to do and allow citizens with concealed carry permits to do so on county property.

Raynor also urged the Board to adopt a policy recommended by Herman Cain during his radio program yesterday.  I believe the idea is something he originated.  It’s called TAC, or his “Trained, Armed Citizens” initiative.  The idea is to have local police departments (probably sheriffs’ departments, too) train concealed carry permit holders who want to take the training as to how to deal with an active shooter situation such as when a “nut case” shoots people in a theatre, or Islamic jehadists attack people at a party or attending an athletic event, or the like.  They would then be issued a “super concealed carry permit” and would agree to carry virtually all the time.  They would in effect be a deputy law enforcement officer, but would have no outward identification as such.  That way, not only would the good guys have no idea where there are lone wolves, jehadists’ cells, and nut cases, but those folks would have no way of knowing how many trained good guys there might be in any and every previously “gun free zone.”  It would even things up a bit, and provide help during the agonizingly long time it takes the police to arrive.

You can find out more by going to www.hermancain.com.

Citizen Glenn Fink petitioned that the grant provided by the federal government through a private company named Trillium for $750,000 at least be questioned by the Board as excessive for the recreational needs of citizens at Creekside Park. The project was at first envisioned as costing around $130,000, but some excellent grant request writer wrote the request for an unspecified amount of money, and the so called “Trillium Health Resources” having huge amounts of federal taxpayer dollars to throw around, unexpectedly gave the county $750,000!!!

Historically, the Craven County Board of Commissioners (Republicans and Democrats alike unfortunately) have never refused a federal taxpayer dollar that is offered up.  They do not give any consideration to the fiscal responsibility of taking it because “if we don’t take it, some other county will.” Therefore, all the Commissioners voted to take the $750,000 with very little discussion of how it is to actually be spent.

Near the end of the meeting under Commissioners’ Reports, Commissioner Dacey gave a statement about what a wonderful organization Trillium Health Resources is and how they are doing great things for children with disabilities. After the meeting, Commissioner Dacey chided Glenn Fink stating that Glenn had obviously never had a family member with disabilities. To which I would have replied (Glenn is too much of a gentleman) that, if you want to contribute huge amounts of money to such charities, please do so, BUT stay out of my pocket with the threat of taking my home from me if I don’t pay up!

I petitioned the Board about government spending.  I pointed out that agenda items to be presented to them that night asked them to spend $2,192,662 of taxpayer money.  Yes, more than $2 million dollars!  Most of it comes in the form of grants.  I wish this were unique to Craven County, but it isn’t, and a quick internet search revealed that there are some 78,000 counties, municipalities, townships, special districts, school districts, and the like, plus additionally numerous non-profit organizations eligible for grants. These grants are a huge contributor to our rapidly growing $18 trillion dollar national debt.

Another strange thing happened at the meeting when Scott Harrelson, Health Director, and Gene Hodges, Assistant County Manager, presented a budget amendment to award a contract for renovations and expansion of examination space for the Adult Primary Care Facility.  As background, Craven County became eligible for the federal taxpayer money by qualifying as a “Federally Qualified Health Center.”  This allows the federal government to bypass the state in dolling out federal taxpayer money.

Previously, I had fought hard to not have Craven County involved in this scheme, but after telling the staff to investigate and act on the possibility, the Board of Commissioners bowed out,and the project went underground in the bowels of administrative staffing.

Like all such requests, this one came to a vote very quickly, but a surprising thing happened. The vote again went along the lines of the new coalition. Commissioner Liner, as Chair, voted last.  Up until that point, the vote was tied along party lines. When Commissioner Liner cast his vote, he again sided with the Democrats!   Had Commissioner Liner voted with his fellow Republicans, he potentially could have killed the concept of a Federally Qualified Health Center. He chose the path of big government!

Our nation has many problems, and one of the worst is government spending. You can really witness it at the local level by attending a Craven County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Hal James
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

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