I attended my third consecutive Pitt County Board of Commissioners Meeting on Monday, August 23, 2021. The topic for my allowed 3-minute address was the ILLEGAL TAKEDOWN of the Pitt County Confederate Monument in June 2020. Not only was the monument’s removal a violation of state law (Reference: North Carolina General Statute Chapter 100. “Monuments, Memorials and Parks”), the meetings of a commissioner-appointed Monument Relocation Committee also violated state law (Reference: North Carolina General Statute 143-318.10. “All official meetings of public bodies open to the public.”) by not recording official minutes for these meetings.
The monument removal issue goes much deeper and I and a small group of Southern Patriots continue to hammer away at the illegal actions of the SEVEN commissioners who voted for that ill-advised illicit action.
But the primary focus of this article is the commissioner meeting of 8/23/2021. Per my informed opinion, this commissioner meeting did NOT conform to the requirements of the North Carolina Open Meetings Laws (Reference: Article 33C “Meetings of Public Bodies.”) Other more defined statues may apply in this case also, but I am not aware of the additional information needed to confirm those specific statutes by name / number.
Here’s the bottom line: This meeting was advertised to the public as an in-person meeting. However, TWO commissioners dialed into the meeting via telephone. To the best of my understanding, a “HYBRID” meeting is NOT ALLOWED by state statute. Either meetings must be conducted REMOTELY -or- IN-PERSON. The sound quality for the meeting (which must be recorded for the public) was atrocious! Several of the commissioners – even after being called down – continued to wear their face masks while speaking. (There are large plexiglass shields between and in front of each commissioner.) Several presenters replied that they could not “understand” commissioners when questions were being asked. The Chairwoman continued wearing her mask during the entire meeting and was the most difficult to hear. Additionally, the TWO commissioners who called in, created audio interference during the entirety of the meeting. (I was present from 5:30pm until 9:10pm.) All these hindering audio factors combined to produce a very chaotic meeting environment. I’m unsure how the quality of the recorded meeting output for the public will be, but it would seem audio clarity will be a major detriment to the overall recording.
For those of you in the public that are concerned about vaccine “pushers,” there’s one additional item of interest. The commissioners voted 6 – 2 for an “incentive plan” to encourage ALL county employees to receive the Covid vaccine. Per the plan approved Monday night (8/23/2021), ALL county employees receiving the Covid vaccine will be eligible for their choice of: a) TWO additional paid days off or b) a one-time bonus of $250. The flip side of this carrot / stick approach will subject county employees who do NOT get the Covid vaccine to required weekly Covid testing. The six commissioners voting FOR this vaccine incentive plan were: Albright, Floyd Huggins, McLawhorn, Nunnally, Perkins-Williams, and Ward.
The only two commissioners to vote AGAINST this incredulously absurd plan were Coulson and White. As a point of clarity, the 9th commissioner (if you’re counting), Fitzpatrick, was absent from this meeting. After commissioner McLawhorn suggested the county MANDATE the Covid vaccine for ALL county employees, commissioner Coulson asked the other commissioners if they had ever read the US Constitution.
I would encourage ALL CITIZENS to consider sitting in on a public meeting of your local school board, board of county commissioners, and / or city council if you have never been to such a meeting. Elected officials are not above the law and obviously some of them cannot be trusted to carry out their duties in an upright and transparent manner. Public watchdogs are desperately needed across all levels of our government. As a wise Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust but Verify.”