New Bern Board of Aldermen Meeting October 26, 2021

Report contributed by Carol More

Attending the City of New Bern’s Board Meeting last evening highlighted two interesting agenda items. The first – Agenda Item 7 – approximately 6 minutes into the meeting, members were asked to approve a number of meeting minutes (incl. sealed minutes which had to be unsealed) over the past few years. Standard procedure….except for the CLOSED session of 3/10’s minutes, which had additions made by Alderwoman Harris (Ward 2) and needed board approval last night. These added minutes were pertaining to a closed session about….you guessed it….the rebuilding of the Stanley White Rec Center (destroyed by Hurricane Florence) and a proposed new location moving the center OUT of the flood zone a mere 600′ from it’s original location. While no one could predict the future, eventually FEMA refused to pay one dime if the center was built in it’s original location, but that’s not the point here.

After Mayor Outlaw (and other board members were in agreement with him) states he ‘doesn’t remember A. Harris making the claim she only approved of the new location AS A “PLAN B”. Alderwoman Harris admits she was in Washington DC at the time of the CLOSED session/Zoom meeting and attended the meeting “outdoors” where “people can hear me”, she then boldly states she has ‘witnesses’ that she will call to testify in a public meeting! She is reminded by the Mayor the fact this was a CLOSED meeting and according to Robert’s Rules of Order, the contents of these meetings are CONFIDENTIAL! No person uninvited should be witness to a closed session. She immediately stammered (backpedaled) quickly prompting (“Barbara, you heard me, right?”) A. Best to say she also witnessed this claim. A. Best: “I concurred.” But no one else on the board did. Strange, isn’t it? The minutes were accepted with the mysterious additional minutes by Harris. Yes votes: Bengel, Harris, Best, Odham and No votes: Aster, Mayor Outlaw and Kinsey) – it passed.

So, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, Harris must be disciplined for breach of confidentiality of the contents of this closed session. It felt like we were on the set of ‘Dumb and Dumber’. Especially when Best chastised Aster AGAIN (this is the second time she admits she voted for something then blames another member for not making sure she understood what she voted for) for her lack of understanding on the Closed Session’s vote proposing and APPROVING* the new location.

*The bottom line is this: If the center was built in the same location as demanded by a few sentimental Duffyfield residents, New Bern would receive ZERO FEMA dollars AND….would be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars of flood insurance each year. In the new location – 600′ from the old location – the center will be 1) LARGER, 2) used as a storm shelter with all the comforts of A/C, a kitchen, plenty of clean space for residents escaping a hurricane and 3) more parking, more amenities, better functionality, TWO BASKETBALL COURTS, AND CAN NOW BE USED BY ALL OF NEW BERN CITIZENS. ALL citizens of this City. But an Alderwoman who HAS WITNESSNESS (her words, not mine and spoken in a public meeting) to a CLOSED SESSION is in violation of confidentiality rules and must be disciplined. Let’s see if anything happens, shall we? I suspect once again, she will be ignored and excused for this violation of her office. Call the Mayor if you feel action should be taken. We should expect our City Board to follow the rules.

The second agenda item of note was A. Harris’ request that another holiday for Juneteenth be added to the 2022 calendar as a paid holiday. She mentions that this ‘would only cost the city $120,000’ and begged the board to approve it. “Let’s just see how it goes in 2022….” WHAT?! Let’s see how it goes?! Does she feel it’s NOT going to ‘go’?! Who would be in opposition – unless it’s informed taxpayers on the hook for the $120K? Check your roads, ditches, lighting, etc. Can you live with those dark streets, potholes and full ditches so an extra holiday can be added? She was, of course, opposed to a suggestion that the day after Thanksgiving be ‘removed and replaced’ with the Juneteenth holiday. Takeaway: The board didn’t cave to her request to be ‘progressive’ and decided to wait and see what other ‘sister’ cities did first. Good vote, Board!

New Bern Board of Aldermen Meeting October 26, 2021
New Bern Board of Aldermen Meeting October 26, 2021
1 . Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Kinsey. Pledge of Allegiance.2. Roll Call.Consent Agenda3. Consider Adopting a Res…

1 thought on “New Bern Board of Aldermen Meeting October 26, 2021

  1. Great report, Carol! Thanks.

    Well done! I almost feel like I was at the meeting. ? (It’s only taxpayers’ money.)

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