Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who found village attorney Mike Newman’s response to Judge Webb’s dismissal of the Open Meetings Law complaint as a wee bit extreme and quite out-of-line. (Remember, the complaint was dismissed for allegedly being filed past the statute of limitations, not because it was without merit. An appeal to the N.C. Court of Appeals is already underway.) Newman’s statement focused much more on personally attacking former councilman Kevin Drum and less on the relevant case law.
Also, I’m told that NOT ALL of the village leadership got to see Newman’s statement on the dismissal BEFORE it went out.
Pinehurst councilwoman Lydia Boesch, also an attorney, decided to let her council colleagues and their thugs know her feelings about Newman’s actions following the dismissal announcement:
I strenuously object to Mike’s second statement below, and am concerned that the attorney for the Village would make a statement that is factually incorrect and grossly misleading. I will address each of his allegations separately.
“Mr. Drum acknowledges that throughout his entire four-year term, he and other Council members regularly communicated almost every day through group emails.” I even acknowledge that there were group emails among the entire Village Council. The emails in issue in Kevin’s case were emails among the majority of Council, and specifically and repeatedly excluded two Council members.
“His first lawyer told him that there was no violation of the law.”Kevin’s first “lawyer” was Craig Phifer. Kevin turned to Craig as a friend after the October 12, 2021 Council meeting. Craig is not an expert in open-meetings law.
“While being represented by his second lawyer, he received an opinion from the School of Government, which likewise confirmed that the use of group emails by Mr. Drum and by other Council members did not constitute “official meetings” and did not violate the law.” Mike knows and the record reflects that it was me, not Kevin, who reached out to Frayda Bluestein at the SOG immediately after the October 12 Council meeting. Mike also knows that there is nothing in the record that reflects the questions I asked Ms. Bluestein nor the facts before her. In fact, the factual record remained incomplete even through the end of 2021. In addition, Kevin’s “second lawyer” was actually his first retained counsel, and he was not retained to address the violations of the open meetings statutes.
“Undaunted, Mr. Drum later hired his third lawyer, strangely contending that his own four-year practice of communicating by group emails was irrelevant: it was only the same practice by other Council members which was unlawful.” Kevin retained Amanda Martin only after documents were produced that establish violations of the open meetings statutes. As Ms. Martin stated in the hearing before Judge Webb, she has been arguing open meetings cases for 30 years. It was entirely appropriate for Kevin to retain counsel whose specialty is open meetings to address the documents that actually had been produced.
Last, Judge Webb dismissed Kevin’s lawsuit only on statute of limitations grounds. He never addressed the underlying facts that establish the violations of the open meetings statutes.
I’ve said from the start and I continue to repeat that I don’t want what happened to Kevin and me last year to ever happen again to the public, to staff, or to another Council member. That outcome is achievable only when we have an accurate factual record and a court ruling based on the applicable laws.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
If you think this is wild and crazy, wait until the lawsuits start flying over the Strickland-Pizzella gang’s desire to ban vacation rentals.