The Pinehurst Hot Mess: Appeals Court overrules Webb, kicks Drum lawsuit back to Superior Court (where it belongs)

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more acrimonious under the Pizzella-Strickland-Sanborn cabal, along comes the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  The Village’s ruling cabal was all giggly with themselves when soon-to-be-put-out-to-pasture Superior Court Judge James Webb dismissed an Open Meetings Law complaint brought against the cabal by former village council member Kevin Drum.  (Drum is on the ballot this year for mayor of Pinehurst.)

Drum had alleged mayor John Strickland, village manager Jeff Sanborn and others in power in village government colluded in secret to sabotage his reelection and publicly embarrass him just weeks prior to the 2021 election.  Drum lost his bid for reelection to the council that year.

Drum’s legal complaint contained all sorts of documentation suggesting that senior village staff and some elected village leaders met in secret — and in violation of the law – to sabotage the reelection of Drum and council member Lydia Boesch.  (Boesch is on the ballot for reelection to the council this year.)

Attorneys for Boesch and Drum reportedly asked village leaders multiple times to settle the matter in mediation.  Sources report that Strickland and Sanborn repeatedly rebuffed those requests, declaring “there [is] nothing to mediate.”

The Village government ended up hiring FOUR lawyers to handle the complaint brought by Drum.  In September 2022, the matter was brought before Judge Webb in Moore County Superior Court but was dismissed by Webb due to a lapse in the “statute of limitations.”  In other words, Drum waited too long to go to court. 

Today, the state court of appeals ruled that Judge Webb improperly applied the law when he ruled the statute of limitations had already passed for Drum’s complaint.  The state court has sent it back to be heard in lower — likely Superior – court.  (Judge Webb will not likely see it again.)

So, the egos in the Strickland-Pizzella-Sanborn cabal have forced us to expend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to multiple lawyers on this matter.  They don’t like Drum, so they thought nothing to spend OUR MONEY on lawyers to put him through a meat grinder.  Legal sources tell us that the matter is likely headed to the much cheaper venue of mediation — which Drum had initially sought, and the cabal had passionately resisted.

I’ve heard some people – mostly the entitled downtown Yankee snobs who back Pizzella and Strickland — try to paint Drum as a bad guy for “forcing” the village to hire all of these lawyers at taxpayer expense.  Drum did not make the cabal violate the law. He didn’t make them hire all of these lawyers and drag the matter out for more than a year.  Drum didn’t make them forego the cheaper, easier option of mediation.

Vile, iron-fisted, mean-spirited politicos who currently call the shots here in Pinehurst made this bed we’re now laying in.  They’re asking us in November to extend their rule in Pinehurst for another four years.  Pizzella is trying to ascend to mayor, while two more folks – recruited by the downtown nasty Yankees — are on the ballot to make that happen (and take out common-sense council members Lydia Boesch and Jeff Morgan).

Village manager Jeff Sanborn – although not elected — deserves plenty of blame for the big mess and toxic environment we now face.  He has gleefully conspired with Pizzella, Strickland, et. al., to wreak havoc and make most of us miserable.

Sanborn should have been fired THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY.  Nowhere else would have tolerated his antics.  He’s presided over an environment where residents are mocked by village leaders and made to feel like serfs and peasants in a medieval kingdom.  The era has been marked by overreach like tree quotas in yards, intensity of exterior lighting, and regulations on who stays in your house and for how long.

I’ve heard from current municipal administrators and retired business leaders who are amazed Sanborn is still employed  after his front-page temper tantrum at The Pilot.

Part of me wants to attribute it to weak and ineffective political leadership in village government.  Part of it very well could be a desired effect sought by people like Pat Pizzella and John Strickland, who appear to enjoy viciousness toward people outside their cocktail circles.

The hot mess we now find ourselves in was brought to you by ‘Parachute Pat’ Pizzella, John Strickland (who doesn’t have the guts to face the voters after the past four years), Jeff Sanborn, and the downtown cocktail-party goose-steppers calling themselves ‘The Friday Group.’ 

In November, you can not show up or you can vote their crew back in.  Then you can watch the village’s slide continue.  Or you can show up and vote them all out wholesale and help usher in a spiritual and political rebirth in the Village of Pinehurst.

It’s up to each and every one of you out there.  How much more of this can you honestly stand?