The Pinehurst Hot Mess: Back to Court!

The Old Town Pinehurst prune-faces are surely still celebrating their election accomplishments.  They bullied their way from a 3-2 majority to a 4-1 majority.  *Things must be going great, eh?*

They got what they wanted: a perpetual village-wide development moratorium and a crack-down on vacation rentals.  When they got told their plans flew in the face of the US and state constitutions and were basically unenforceable, they got mad.  They ran off their puppet mayor, installed a new one, and added another puppet to the council for insurance.

*”Haaaaaarumph. How dare you tell us NO. No one stands in the way of Tri-State royalty.”*

Go ahead, let them sue, appears to the be the battle-cry of the Old Town crew and their elected puppets. Getting sued is no big deal if someone else – all your taxpaying neighbors, for instance – is paying the bills.  If you didn’t know, Pinehurst is a lot busier in court than most municipalities. 

One of the craziest outcomes of the election was the elevation of a man to mayor who has lived here not quite three years. They had the same guy elected to council in 2021 after only being here eight months.

The plan to elevate newcomer Pat Pizzella to the village council was engineered thanks, in big part, to secretive meetings involving outgoing mayor John Strickland, two council members, some village government resources, and two village employees.  The scheme produced a smear campaign against two perceived opponents of the Old Town prune-faces that hit the papers less than a month before the 2021 village council election.  One of Strickland & co.’s targets went down — thanks to the smear — and the way was cleared for newly-arrived DC lobbyist Pat Pizzella to enter village government.

As the details behind the smear became public, one of the victims – now former councilman Kevin Drum – decided to pursue legal action.  He went after the village for blatantly violating state open meetings laws.

Drum offered three times to take the dispute to mediation.  Mediation is less time-consuming and typically cheaper.  The village – led by mayor Strickland and manager Jeff Sanborn – denied all three requests and pushed for court.

(During the last election, the Old Town crew had the nerve to bad-mouth Drum for actually making Pinehurst spend money on lawyers. Not a word about possible violations of law, or three refused offers to solve things simpler and quicker and cheaper in mediation.) 

The Village government and their army of taxpayer-funded lawyers have successfully shot down Drum’s court efforts TWICEthanks to some of that good ol’ fashioned home-cookin’ the Moore County courthouse is known for.  

The state Court of Appeals shot down the Village’s first effort to kill Drum’s suit.  Unfortunately, the matter was kicked back to the judge whose decision on Drum’s complaint had been shot down by the Court of Appeals.  Apparently still suffering from butt-hurt, the judge found another inexplicable reason to shoot the Drum complaint down.

Now, it appears Drum is headed back for another round with Pinehurst at the state Court of Appeals.  If the Appeals Court once again finds fault with the Moore County judge’s decision and kicks it back to Superior Court, things will likely be different this time.  The Village attorney’s favorite judge — now retired — will not be available.

I once heard someone muse about how if you want to go talk to local government in Pinehurst, you need to take your lawyer with you.  *Planning. Zoning. Public Works.  It doesn’t matter.*

You’re in for combat, not teamwork or problem-solving.  (Imagine living under ONE BIG NIGHTMARISH HOA.)   

What happened to public service?  One would think these old people would grow nicer and more civil as they got older.  Is it just something about their northeastern US heritage? 

HOW ABOUT a lot less Machiavelli and a lot more serious give-and-take and teamwork to ensure fairness to everyone?