What’s wrong and what’s right — you decide

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dear Editor,

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Board of Supervisors meeting, at the very end of the meeting, Supervisor Warren Weston made a motion. You can access the audio recording here: http://charlotteva.com/Audio%20Files/[11-14-2017][13_29_10].mp3. You can listen to the entire meeting or skip over to the time 1:20:03 on the clock. Here’s my opinion about who’s actions were wrong and who’s actions were right. Listen to the audio, read my thoughts, and learn what action you can take.

A wrong: In almost four years of being a Supervisor, I believe this is the first motion ever made by Mr. Weston. To me, he seemed “coached.” His motion was “To turn over all county advertising to The Southside Messenger;” make The Messenger the “total advertising people.” This motion was out of order. Whether you agree with the motion (I do not) or not, he was out of order. Please read on.

Another wrong: whoever seconded this motion. I can’t tell if it was Haywood Hamlet or Butch Shook. If it was Haywood Hamlet; after 26 years of serving on the Board, four times as Chair, he should have known better. You would think the last thing he would want at this point is more controversy. It might have been Butch Shook. Mr. Shook should have also known better, he has served for 10 years. As a business owner in struggling Charlotte County, I am sure Mr. Shook can appreciate how much the business the County has done with him has helped his business.

Finally, a right: Dr. Nancy Carwile, Mr. Butch Hamlett and Mr. Royal Freeman voted against the motion. Dr. Carwile made a substitute motion to leave things alone for now. The Charlotte Gazette was accused by a staff person of not doing their job correctly. Dr. Carwile’s motion was basically to give The Gazette, and the Supervisors, time to look into this. Mr. Butch Hamlett strengthened the motion. Their motion failed but I am thankful to Dr. Carwile, Mr. Butch Hamlett and Mr. Freeman for trying to do the right thing.

A wrong: If this action stands, citizens who wish to read the legal notices of the County will be forced into buying The Southside Messenger. In my opinion, The Messenger can be biased in their coverage of County affairs. Example? In the summer of 2016, there was little (if any) coverage of a petition signed by over 800 taxpayers/citizens. Why? Could it be because the People were demanding simple things (more transparency and accountability) from the powers-that-be? Here’s a question for Mr. Jones: Is he a reporter for the People? Or the powers-that-be? Ask him and you decide.

Wrong, wrong, wrong: The actions of Chairman Gary Walker. He has many years of experience on Boards (Supervisors since 1996, School Board 1987-1995, Heartland Industrial Development Authority, etc.) Many of the time he has served as Chairman. He can’t play dumb.

In Virginia we operate under something known as “The Sunshine Law.” How the meeting is conducted is also governed by Robert’s Rules of Order. Unless an item is on the approved agenda, it cannot be brought up for vote. Why? Because the citizens (and other board members) have a right to know what will be brought up for vote in the meeting. The Agenda is voted on at the beginning of the meeting. After that, you can’t just “bring something up.” Mr. Walker knows that. Who else knows that? The longtime County Attorney, Frank Slayton. A lot of our tax dollars are paid each year to him to represent the County. He isn’t at every meeting but he was at this one. At one point in the discussion, Mr. Clark even mentions about him weighing in on one part of the argument that was transpiring. He could have easily noted that the motion was out of order. I am disappointed he did not. Also weighing in was the oh-too-long (in my opinion) County Administrator, R. B. Clark. After serving for too many years, he knew this was out of order. He’s not dumb either.

The maybe biggest Wrong: Again, Mr. Walker. Since the motion on the floor will give Mr. Walker’s brother-in-law (Mr. Jones) exclusive advertising; thereby strengthening his business while hurting The Charlotte Gazette; well….come on, Mr. Walker. You know you needed to recuse yourself. Even if you don’t presently have, nor ever have had, any financial interest in The Southside Messenger, he is your brother-in-law. It’s called conflict. You know that. Actually, the last time the “powers-that-be” tried to bring something similar up, Mr. Walker, did recuse himself. Why not this time? Because it would have been a three to three vote this time and a failed motion. Is that call winning no matter what? Is that called conflict? Yes, in my opinion, it certainly is.

So, I pose this to you the People. What do you think? Is it time for a change? Mr. Weston and Mr. Haywood Hamlet have only one more month to serve as they were voted out. Mrs. Donna Fore and I will take those seats. How about the others who committed what I view as “wrongs”? Is it time for a change there?

If you want real action, maybe you should write to Attorney General Mark Herring, 202 North Ninth St., Richmond, Virginia 23219. Phone number 804-786-2071. This “wrong” at the meeting was one of many, many wrongs I have uncovered. We need many things in Charlotte County but I think of all our needs, we need justice the most.

Kay Morgan Pierantoni