The Pinehurst Hot Mess: The price tag on political pride


It’s been a long time since there’s been this much attorney action involving Pinehurst village government.  Of course, that happens when you operate like a bull in a china shop — stomping all over your citizens and their rights.  The Terrible Threesome running the show on the council have really run up quite a bill for the taxpayers — all in the name of serving their cocktail buddies’ interests and preserving their own political pride.

Sometimes the action at Village Hall adopts a rather Corleone-ish or Capone-ish flavor.  The Strickland-Pizzella cabal, late last year, sneakily put together a kangaroo court proceeding aimed at smearing and embarrassing two council members they viewed as enemies right before an election:  Lydia Boesch and former councilman Kevin Drum.

Thanks in big part to the cabal’s dirty tactics,  Drum lost his reelection bid.  Boesch is still on the council, but spends quite a bit of time being politically isolated and verbally abused by the Strickland-Pizzella cabal.


Drum decided to file a complaint alleging that the Strickland-Pizzella cabal violated state Open Meetings laws.  A Moore County judge suggested that Drum’s complaint came too far outside the statute of limitations.  Drum is appealing that decision to the state Court of Appeals, and appears willing to go to the state Supreme Court, if need be.

Drum and his attorneys attempted to mediate this dispute from the very beginning.  Mediation would likely have been a LOT cheaper than hiring lawyers to go to court.  However, Village Manager Jeff Sanborn and mayor John Strickland rejected all three of Drum’s offers for mediation.  They wanted to go the expensive route.  And why not?  They aren’t paying the bills for it.  WE ARE.

So, the village retained village attorney Mike Newman, plus THREE Raleigh lawyers — all on the taxpayer dime — to handle this case.  Now that the case has moved from Moore County Superior Court to the NC Court of Appeals, we are finding out just how expensive Sanborn and Strickland’s little temper tantrum has become.

It is our understanding that Pinehurst’s insurance provider is balking at backing this courtroom exercise. So, every dollar that gets spent comes directly from the village budget and ME and YOU.

Tuesday evening, council members will be told that the village’s defense against Drum’s complaint has already caused the village to blow through the budgeted amount of $50,000-plus for legal fees   A budget amendment for an additional $50,000 is being sought. So, the cost to Pinehurst taxpayers is estimated, so far, to exceed $100,000. (That number gets significantly bigger if this goes on to the state Supreme Court.) A lot more than what mediation would have cost.

Apparently, personal feelings about Drum, himself, made a full courtroom defense the only option for Village Hall politicos.

Here is the letter from the Raleigh law firm explaining their fees.

More expensive courtroom action over the cabal’s vacation rental ruling, as well as their development moratorium, is coming soon.

I say that, if Pat Pizzella, John Strickland and Jane Hogeman want to keep throwing around tax-funded lawyers to enforce their political vendettas, we should be able to recover the cost of this mess from those three directly.