We’re seeing it happen all around the local area, and I’m sure it’s happening in your neck of the woods. Government employees and elected-types work really really hard to keep you in the dark about what they’re really doing TO YOU with YOUR MONEY.
As a point of reference, here is a lot of information from the UNC School of Government about the state Open Meetings Law and how government types are supposed to adhere to it.
In The Village of Pinehurst, a quorum of electeds and government staff regularly converse via email — away from the public — about all kinds of public business. Sometimes it gets leaked and we hear the details. Many times it does not and we don’t. No minutes. Rarely any notices about a quorum being present.
In village meetings, readers of the meeting agenda regularly get hit with the full statute about the justification for going into closed session. Actually, instead of announcing the whole laundry list of acceptable reasons for entering closed executive session, you’re supposed to announce one of the options given in the statute as your stated reason for going into private talks. If the private talks result in a decision, said decision is to be announced in an open meeting. At least, THAT is the way it is SUPPOSED to work.
The Village has been wrapped up in Open Meetings litigation with a former councilman for more than two years now. The former councilman’s complaint alleges a plan was hatched during an illegal closed session to sabotage his 2021 reelection. Village government staff and email was used to facilitate the secret meeting. There were no minutes kept, and no meeting announcements were issued.
Let’s move over to Sandhills Community College, where it appears the Open Meetings Laws have been ignored for about a dozen years or so. No meeting announcements. Meeting recordings destroyed without being made available to the public. Business and votes conducted via email.
Longtime board chairman George Little went around bellowing to the world — including ME — that state open meetings laws DO NOT apply to him or the college. (The college’s attorney had to openly correct him in a recent board of trustees meeting.)
Finishing off this hat trick – at least for now – is the Moore County Board of Education. The board now has a majority that rose to power claiming they would shake things up at the central office in Carthage. Yet, they have gradually slid back into the good-ol’-boy, backdoor, staff-dominated under-the-table methods of doing business that Moore County Public Schools has so long been known for.
One of the shadiest things going on is putting stuff on the consent agenda that has no business being there. The consent agenda, in government meetings, is for stuff deemed non-controversial that is not likely to spur any debate. The system’s budget, for instance, is probably not a good thing to put on the consent agenda. People might want to hear some discussion on that, and ask some questions as well.
But, sure enough, the budget resolution was sitting on the December 4th meeting’s consent agenda. In fact, three of the four things I see there are arguably inappropriate for the consent agenda. The budget resolution, the master facility plan, and policy decisions on out-of-state field trips are all things I would expect folks would want to hear more about.
Board of Education member David Hensley took to social media to express his frustration with this type of thing:
The one thing The Washington Post gets right is their motto: “Democracy Dies In The Dark.” It is so much easier to take advantage of people – to take them for a ride – when they are left clueless about what you are doing to them.
Don’t count on our local paper here in Moore County or their owners – the alleged First Family of North Carolina Journalism – to swoop in and save the day. To this day, they still refuse to confess their managing editor’s wife is a big-time, diehard Democrat Party activist who had been – until right recently – the chief propagandist for the Moore County public schools central office.
It’s not about ‘sunlight’ over there in that Pennsylvania Avenue newsroom, it’s about the beloved Democrat Party. Just like in most of the remaining drive-by media newsrooms in the state.