Moore County commissioners showed up at their Tuesday night meeting expecting to discuss and vote on a resolution calling for a formal investigation into county manager Cary McSwain’s dealings with an Internet service provider. Instead, they got a mea culpa from McSwain and a revised resolution put forth by a stand-in interim attorney directing the manager to enter into negotiations with the ISP seeking compensation for the company’s use of county property. (County attorney Misty Leland is out on medical leave until the first of the new year.)
Here’s what my #1 county government mole had to say:
“The commissioners were floored. They were pissed. They didn’t want to get into a full-blown fight in open session with the man serving as the board’s attorney. Thanks to Tim Lea and The Pilot, there are no more closed sessions.
So, they quickly and quietly approved the revised motion. But this isn’t over. The digging and probing is going on as we speak. The commissioners made it clear in August that they didn’t like the idea of these guys getting access to county property. The manager decided to ignore their wishes and allow this private company to use county property for private business purposes FOR FREE. Cary McSwain is slated to retire on December 1. Retirement won’t necessarily allow Mr. McSwain to escape answering for this.”
The ISP sought permission in August to lease space on a county owned water tower. At that meeting, the commissioners tabled the request indefinitely. (#1 mole tells me that an indefinite tabling is a polite way for the board to tell you that they are not interested in even voting on your request.)
McSwain told the board Tuesday night that he got a call from the ISP over Labor Day weekend — roughly one month after the board was presented with the ISP’s request — seeking permission to place an antenna on a county water tower. The manager said the ISP described the request as addressing an “emergency” situation. (Describing something as an “emergency” is a good way to get around the requirement for competitive bidding and board approval.)