The Pinehurst Hot Mess: Anatomy of a political smear


The current litigious environment at Pinehurst Village Hall is really opening some eyes on how things, um, “get done” over there.

Mayor John Strickland has quite a track record of cheap shots and hardball politics.  Many have been quick to blame his henchmen for these rough tactics, but a village government email trail suggests that Strickland is quite capable of engineering cheap shots and hardball politics all by himself.

Back in October 2021, it appears that Strickland and his comrades in the shadowy, snobby Friday Group engineered a political hit on councilmember Lydia Boesch and then-councilman Kevin Drum.  Boesch was — and still IS — seen as a potential threat to Strickland’s reelection.  Drum needed to be defeated in order to make room for Strickland crony “Parachute Pat” Pizzella.  (Drum was seen as an easier “get” than then-candidate Jeff Morgan.)

Strickland orchestrated, just two weeks in front of the 2021 council elections, censure proceedings against Boesch and Drum.  Neither Boesch nor Drum were alerted to these plans until Strickland brought them up at the council’s October 12 meeting.

According to the email trail, it appears that Strickland, council members Jane Hogeman and Judy Davis, at least five village staffers, and a handful of village residents were given advance warning and a chance to contribute to the hit job.  Someone posting under the name “Bart Boudreaux” was all over social media in the weeks prior to the discussions in the attached emails bragging about how he knew “ethics charges” were coming against two incumbent council members.  Ethics probes are supposed to be confidential.  How did “Bart Boudreaux” know about all this before the two targets of the probes DID?

For the record, there IS actually a diehard political supporter of John Strickland named Bart Boudreaux.  

Want some truth about the alleged ethics charges?  Boesch had received reports from our state legislators that village manager Jeff Sanborn’s behavior was hurting Pinehurst’s reputation in Raleigh.  No one wanted to work with Pinehurst, she was being told.

So, Boesch — as the “eyes and ears” of the residents of Pinehurst — decided to look into what she was hearing from Raleigh.  That was absolutely her duty and right to do so.

Sanborn found out about it and threw a good ol’ fashioned hissy fit.  No one except HIM is allowed to talk to village employees, he said.  (Bullshit, I say.)  And so began the “ethics” crusade against Boesch.

Drum was a different story.  As the owner of two downtown businesses, Drum was active in the downtown business association.  Prior to the 2021 election, he found out that the association — which he supported financially and personally — was hosting a campaign event for one of his election opponents (“Parachute Pat” Pizzella).  

Drum fired off angry emails to the then-head of the association, Katrin Franklin, blasting her for allowing the association to get involved officially in his race.  Drum also reportedly had issues with how Franklin had been running the association.  He let her know, quite frankly, how he felt about that.  Those exchanges led to “ethics charges” being executed against Drum.

So, an operative of the Pat Pizzella campaign was behind the “ethics” complaint against Drum.

In the weeks running up to the election, it was publicized that candidate Drum was facing “ethics charges.”  Never mind that they were mostly fabricated crap. Ethics, ethics, ethics was what made the paper and circulated around the cocktail parties.  And it cost Drum his seat in November.

So, village government resources were used to carry out personal and political vendettas.  State open meetings laws were being flaunted. Downtown snobbiness and arrogance were on full, public display.

This kind of pettiness has us, the taxpayers, on the hook for an unwinnable lawsuit over Open Meetings Law violations.  The kamikaze demeanor of the Strickland-Pizzella mob has us careening toward financial liability for at least one more expensive lawsuit (over the vacation rental ban).

All of you cocktail party pals who shoe-horned Strickland & co. into office never expected that crew could make such a mess in such a short time, now did you?