The Sandhills Files: Larry Caddell, unfiltered.

We previously told you about the Board of Trustees at Sandhills Community College and their, um, slack attitude about compliance with state open meetings laws.

Meeting tapes were being destroyed.  Meeting announcements were not being publicly disseminated. Meeting minutes were not being made public in a timely manner.  The college has taken some of that criticism to heart.  They’ve made some positive corrective steps, but still have some way to go.

We obtained a tape of the April 3, 2023 trustees meeting, and can now understand WHY the meeting tapes were being so quickly destroyed.  One source who provided me with the tapes described the meeting’s proceedings as “Clown World.”   After giving the tape a listen for myself, I agree with that assessment.

Items are added to the agenda willy-nilly. You have motions being made for proceeding with projects — and approved – BEFORE anyone asks how much said project is going to cost.  Chairman George Little had, um, little to say.  Much of his utterances consisted of “All in favor, say aye. All opposed? Motion carries.”  There is almost no gap between the words “opposed” and “motion.”  I don’t know that anyone could utter the word ‘No’ fast enough to catch George’s attention.

Larry Caddell, a former county commissioner and mayor of Carthage, is vice-chairman of the board of trustees.  Yet, he does roughly 75 to 80 percent of the talking during meetings (at least during THIS particular meeting).    Also, Caddell — a former banker and software salesman — makes a whale of an effort during the meeting to pass himself off as some kind of construction expert.

During the April meeting, Caddell managed to direct some biting sarcasm at the town governments of Carthage AND Southern Pines.

The first incident occurred while the board was discussing a planning issue the college was working on with The Town of Carthage.  Here’s Caddell:

[…] “I asked to step aside from this, cause being an ex-mayor [I] thought it might be better if I was not involved.” […]

Okay.  That’s nice.  Larry is thinking about ethics and being a good public servant.  Good for him.

Unfortunately, “stepping aside” lasted for about one whole minute:

[…] “I talked to — and probably shouldn’t have — I called the town manager just to see.  It’s going to take like 60 days.  It ain’t like it used to be.  The mayor there used to be a little more flexible.” 

Caddell is interrupted by some giggles.   Chairman Little tries to help:

Little: “Um, prompt?”

Caddell: “Yeah, prompt.”

The Town of Southern Pines was Caddell’s next victim.  A college staffer can be heard on the tape reporting to the board that the town has hired a contractor to work on a sewer line and drainage ditch that abuts some college property.  The contractor reportedly needed to remove some trees from the area of the ditch that could not be reached from the town’s property.  Southern Pines apparently asked the contractor to work out a temporary easement agreement with the college.

This was a matter that could have been worked out in a few minutes weeks ago.  But, thanks to Caddell, it turned into a nice bit of drama that ate up a lot of trustees meeting time.  Here’s some more Larry:

“I’ve been working with the Town of Southern Pines for 34 years and we would probably have to give up our next born child to get this done if we were asking them to do it.”[…]

Caddell got even unhappier when he heard about the proposal for the contractor and the college to work together on creating a temporary easement:

“That’s ridiculous. They’re wanting access — for us to give them access  –and they want us to have a deal with the contractors?  They need to sign an agreement or fly them out of there. […] I would never agree to have this between us and a contractor. What if he files for bankruptcy?”[…]

Who knows what bankruptcy has to do with the cost of tea in The Dempsey Center or a temporary easement agreement, for that matter.

Anyway, a bunch of cross-talk followed Caddell’s comments, consisting mainly of college staffers trying to talk sense into him.  One staffer comments on discussing some options about the easement.  Caddell responds with:

“Tell him his option is to get a helicopter!”

I’ve always been cautioned about getting sassy with someone you might need something from down the road. Larry Caddell is representing the college here, and not himself.