In our Thursday Page 1 story about the Board of Supervisors’ plan to build a bridge on Lower Myrick Road, it came across to some that the board was trying to play fast and loose with open meetings rules and regulations to hoodwink the local press. Just to clarify, we didn’t suspect any wrongdoing on the board’s part.
In November, when they agreed to build the bridge, despite it being well over budget, they later reconvened and rescinded that order. That happened after our reporter left. Sometimes the board breaks from the meeting and, with no other items on the agenda, our reporter leaves to get back to the office because Monday is a hectic deadline day. Deciding not to build that bridge, at $155,000 over the engineer’s estimate, would have come across as prudent, not controversial, so we don’t believe there was any deceit.
In their last meeting, they did adjourn, and after the reporter left, they reconvened to move forward with building that bridge. The board’s spokeswoman, Chataura Sanders, sent the reporter an email that afternoon to let him know what supervisors had done after he left.
It’s understandable why people here would assume corruption, since that’s been front and center far too often in our county. Most of our officials are good people who got in office for the right reasons, with good intentions. Some have strayed, letting the power go to their head. And they need to be knocked down a notch, reminded that they work for the taxpayers, not the other way around.
It’s no secret that we’re not happy with the sheriff and the way he is working to control other offices by putting up roadblocks to the free flow of public information. Many of you may see that as our problem. But he has a $37,000-per-year, taxpayer-funded public relations specialist who only relates to the public 20 minutes per week on Facebook Live.
They are making us jump through hoops to get incident reports/affidavits, with information removed that shouldn’t legally be removed, then charging us fees for the “labor” it takes to remove it before sending it to us. These are irrefutably public documents, mind you. It’s outrageous. We’re supplementing the salary of someone who is already being paid to do a job that she isn’t doing.
We’re the ones writing the checks for the information. But the hardworking residents of this county are getting charged for it, too — by a leader who says he doesn’t have enough money to run his department. But he has enough for a PR person whose salary is about the same as a road deputy. And she doesn’t do PR with the main media outlet used by his constituents. Let that sink in.