In Their Own Words – Aneralla & Kidwell Edition

The special meeting held by the board last week and my coverage of it here generated interesting responses from both Mayor Aneralla and Commissioner Kidwell. The mayor took to the dais last Wednesday prior to going into closed session and told of his lack of sleep and expressed outrage not over taxpayers being screwed by the former town manager and Teron Service, Inc. under his watch, but because four commissioners called or supported calling a special meeting “behind my back.” [Informing the mayor of your intent to call a special meeting before you do so is not a condition of calling a special meeting per NCGS 160A-71(b)(1).]  Commissioner Kidwell, in response to a constituent who emailed him expressing concerns about the monies paid to a former commissioner and the resulting asbestos violation the town received, emailed this person (this email is public record) that there are always three sides to a story and in the middle is the truth. Commissioner Kidwell also failed to identify the Teron payments that took place under his watch so it’s understandable that he would rather avoid accepting responsibility in his last few days as a commissioner and blame some blogger for allegedly spreading half-truths than take any action to protect taxpayers in the future.

Their own words are presented below without comment [well, maybe with a few comments…].

Eric


Mayor Aneralla from the dais in town hall on Nov. 29: “I just wanted everybody to know I sit here today under much duress and disappointment having lost a lot of sleep the past few days. I’ve been mayor of the town of Huntersville for the last two years and am proud of many of the successes we have had working as a board with staff. I consider the individuals on this board as friends and I look forward to the next two years. I have tried to lead this board in a professional manner, open manner [except for only complying with the board’s procedural rules and state law regarding open meeting laws after being harangued by this blogger…] and for the most part have been proud of how we have conducted ourselves, but not always, especially today [telling that he never uttered a peep when Commissioner Bales accused him of collusion in a public meeting, but this issue he takes a stand on…]. Without the courtesy of informing me or Commissioner Bales or Kidwell, once again behind my back, the remaining commissioners decided to call today’s closed session meeting on the Friday after Thanksgiving [maybe they would have called it sooner if anyone had discovered the relevant information before then…], only four days before a new board is sworn in. This is truly disappointing. Not only do I believe calling this meeting is childish, vindictive, inappropriate, ill-timed and unethical [kind of like these remarks…], this meeting reeks of the same politics many on the board criticized previous boards to allow and why so many citizens are disgusted with politics and politicians. I see no difference in calling today’s closed session meeting to the awarding of the HFFA contract eight months prior to the expiration and the month before the election [calling a special meeting to attempt to address taxpayers getting screwed and pushing through a vote on a flawed contract to intentionally screw taxpayers are completely different…]. To call a closed session meeting with a lame duck board is simply petty, personal politics at its worst [again, it’s telling the mayor isn’t outraged about taxpayers getting screwed, he’s outraged some on the board attempted to do something about it…] There are two things I hold  most dearly in my life – my family and my reputation. As we head into this closed session I want my fellow board members to consider what they have left of their reputations and what they want them to be [I’d stack the reputations of the two commissioners who called the special meeting up against the mayor’s any day of the week and it wouldn’t even be close…].”

Commissioner Kidwell via email on Dec. 1 at 9:24 am: “Thank you for the email. Unfortunately some of what Mr. Rowell had expressed in his (2nd) blog was information discussed in a closed session meeting [no it wasn’t, I clearly indicated I was making educated guesses, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what happened in the closed session when you consider the mayor’s statement prior to closed session AND when you consider neither Bales nor Kidwell voted to go into closed session…]. The fact that that information was shared outside the ethical boundaries of our oaths [again, nothing was shared outside of anything and Commissioner Kidwell cites no specifics in support of this assertion…] is severely heartbreaking and I am disappointed in whom ever did it [not as disappointed as I am in your votes the past two years…].

But I will tell you that the individual responsible for hiring Teron has already been relieved of his duties and job [although he quickly got hired on as the town manager in Waxhaw…]. That individual was the former town manager.

What transpired after the county alerted the town happened exactly as it should. The town manager went to a meeting with our attorney and staff and said get to the bottom of it [when was this meeting and which staff was told to get to the bottom of what?].

Only recently, Wednesday of this week [which would have been Nov. 29…], did the county come back and say there is no violation [actually no they didn’t say this, the county merely said they consider the violation closed…], which at that time, the current town manager then sent out an email with all the information to the board [this email from the town manager was sent A DAY AFTER my initial story on this issue and only after the town board called a special meeting, a complete coincidence I’m sure…].

Our town manager is Directed to handle the day-to-day operations of the town. He should not have to be micromanaged and tell us about every single aspect that was going on, until he has all the facts [or until some pesky blogger reports on his neglect and he has to go into spin mode…]. I personally like to have all the facts in front of me before I make a rash decision or jump to conclusions.

Unfortunately the former town manager messed up big-time [but he still got a nice severance and quickly landed a new job in Waxhaw…]. But on the bright side our, current town manager not only saved the town thousands of dollars by bidding out the contract to tear down the houses [no, he just didn’t waste thousands of dollars for no-bid work to a former commissioner…], but also made sure that the contractor tore them down correctly according to Mecklenburg county code.

My real concerns for Huntersville going forward, as a private citizen, is that the town board, allows our manager and staff to perform their jobs without trying to tell them who to hire, fire, or discipline (as it is illegal for a board to direct the town manager to do such things) [Commissioner Kidwell cites no evidence in support of this assertion of illegality…].

There’s always three sides to a story. There’s the story the person A has. There’s the story that person B has. And in the middle is the truth [whose truth, Commissioner Kidwell?].

Thank you again for reaching out and your support over the past few years I truly appreciate it. I hope this email answer some your questions and clears the air that has been fogged by political agendas [whose political agenda, Commissioner Kidwell?].”

Vincent Failed to Disclose Asbestos Violation to Board

Did you know the town of Huntersville received a Notice of Violation from the County’s Air Quality Department in August because the contractor used to demolish town-owned properties failed to submit any of the necessary asbestos surveys and NESHAP notifications? If you weren’t aware, don’t worry, neither was the town board. They only learned of this violation about a week ago and it wasn’t because the town manager informed them. And in case you haven’t already guessed, the contractor responsible for failing to submit any of the necessary asbestos surveys and NESHAP notifications that resulted in the violation was Teron Service, Inc.

So not only did Teron screw the taxpayers of Huntersville out of thousands of dollars for no-bid demo work with the approval of former town manager (now currrent town manager of Waxhaw) Greg Ferguson, they couldn’t even be bothered to submit the standard asbestos related paperwork. That’s just plain sorry.

By the way, I’m still waiting on Melinda Bales, Brian Hines, Joe Sailers, and Nick Walsh to publicly disavow the support they received from the owners of Teron, Ron and Teresa Julian, during the recent campaign.

The notice of violation is attached below. It speaks for itself. The attached emails also make clear that three people with the town (then interim town manager Gerry Vincent, town employee Michelle Haines, and town attorney Bob Blythe) knew about the potential violation as early as July 11 – over a month before the notice dated August 29 was sent to the town. If appropriate action had been taken by the town in a timely manner to address the concerns of Air Quality, it’s possible no violation would have been issued. Instead, all three town employees sat on this information for months and likely would have never disclosed it to the board. As of this morning, all three individuals are still employed by the town.

Meck Air Quality - Teron

Why would Vincent fail to disclose this information to the board? Doesn’t seem like something an award-winning town employee would do (Vincent was voted the North Carolina Assistant Manager of the Year for 2013-14 by the North Carolina City and County Management Association). Is it possible he’s just so lazy that even notifying the town board of something so serious was too much work for him, or is it possible he was trying to keep the board and taxpayers in the dark about the no-bid Teron work prior to the election?

A special town board meeting was held yesterday at 10am in town hall for the purpose of discussing personnel. No action was taken after the board came out of closed session. The last time the board called a special meeting to discuss personnel was earlier this year in January and it resulted in the board accepting Mr. Ferguson’s resignation. Assuming the board called this special meeting for the same reason – to discuss the job of the town manager, it’s probably safe to also assume Vincent still has a job because the votes weren’t there to accept his resignation.

Mayor John “don’t you know how smart I am” Aneralla made his position clear prior to the board entering closed session when he publicly chastised the board members who called the special meeting. If Aneralla didn’t want Vincent gone, I’m also going to make an educated guess that his BFF Dan “I like to lie on campaign mailers” Boone wouldn’t go along with Vincent no longer being the town manager either. Another safe assumption is that if Aneralla and Boone wanted to maintain the status quo, Melinda “I throw around unfounded accusations of collusion without repercussion” Bales wasn’t in favor of changing the town’s leadership either. Because we all remember how adamant Commissioner Bales was about maintaining the status quo at HFFA despite the millions of reasons why a management change was needed. But, you know what they say about assuming so I welcome any comments from Aneralla, Bales, or Boone correcting the record.

Let the 2019 race for Huntersville’s next mayor begin.

Eric

Huntersville Paid Former Elected Official $97,025 For No-Bid Jobs

If the newly elected Huntersville town board thought they wouldn’t have much to worry about over the next two years, they can think again. Adopting a new policy requiring stricter thresholds than currently required by state law for when formal and informal bids have to be approved by the town board would be a good place to start. By taking the lead and becoming the first town in North Mecklenburg with a policy on bid thresholds, the new town board would be doing their part to help protect Huntersville taxpayers against corrupt town officials in the future.

Ron Julian was an elected member of the Huntersville town board from 2007-2015. He was an appointed member of the town’s board of adjustment before that. He is currently licensed by the state as a general contractor with a limited building license (License #54760). As a long-time public official and licensed general contractor, you would fully expect Mr. Julian to be very familiar with the laws and regulations regarding submitting bids, including the thresholds under which formal or informal bids are not required. It was this knowledge of bid thresholds, combined with his relationship with former Huntersville town manager Greg Ferguson, that resulted in Mr. Julian and his wife being paid $97,025 by the town for demolition and repair work from August 2016 through January 2017.

According to the UNC SOG, under North Carolina law (specifically Article 8 of Chapter 143, sections 129 and 131), local governments are required to bid out purchases of “apparatus, supplies, materials, and equipment” costing $30,000 or more, and contracts for construction or repair costing $30,000 or more. Local governments do have the ability to adopt stricter thresholds than state law that would require bidding on other types of contracts or for contracts costing less than $30,000. If Huntersville had already adopted a policy requiring oversight by the town board of contracts less than $30,000, it’s highly likely the contracts discussed below would have been awarded to a business other than Teron Service, Inc.

Teron Service, Inc. (“Teron”) is a North Carolina business incorporated by Julian and his wife, Teresa Julian, in 1996. You can view the company’s annual reports filed with the NC Secretary of State’s Office here. Mrs. Julian is listed as the company’s President and Mr. Julian is listed as the Vice-President. The nature of the business is listed as “consulting.” Teron holds a valid contractors license through Mr. Julian. There is no website that I could find for Teron, but according to the company’s listing in the Huntersville Chamber business directory the focus of the business appears to be property management. I was unable to find a listing for the company in the Lake Norman Chamber’s business directory for some reason.

In June 2016, a proposal for demolition work was submitted by Mr. Julian on behalf of Teron to the Town of Huntersville [see below]. The proposal listed 13 properties to be demolished at a total cost of $142,600.00. This proposal did not include the cost of any asbestos surveys. The former town manager never informed the town board that he was awarding demo work to a former town commissioner.

Teron June 2016 Proposal

Pursuant to a records request, the earliest record I was provided of any discussions about the demo work awarded to Teron was an email from town employee Michelle Haines to then town manager Greg Ferguson dated July 25, 2016. Haines’ email to Ferguson stated, “Here [sic] a letter that you can print and send to Ron to move forward with demos on the first 4.” The letter below was attached to the email. If the initial demo proposal from Julian was dated June 17, 2016 and the first record of any discussion about this work that I was provided was dated July 25, 2016, how did the demo proposal come about to begin with? How would Mr. Julian know to submit a proposal for demo work if the town manager had not issued a public request for proposals?

Teron ltr 7-25-16

Despite submitting a proposal to demo 13 properties, Teron was only paid for demo work related to 7 properties: 6 per the original proposal and 1 additional property located at 8824 McIlwaine Rd. related to construction of the new fire station. The six properties from the original proposal the town paid Teron a total of $63,400 to demo were: 102 First St. (1,000 sq. ft.), 101 3rd St. (915 sq. ft.), 307 N. Main St. (1,050 sq. ft.), 309 N. Main St. (906 sq. ft.), 311 Main St. (900 sq. ft.), and 201 Walters St. (1,778 sq. ft.). The town paid Teron $29,500 to demo the McIlwaine property (2,931 sq. ft.). [see checks/invoices below] Interestingly, none of the Mecklenburg County demo permits for the seven properties above listed Teron as the contractor. Each permit listed “Black & Sons, Inc. W C”, a contractor based out of McDowell County that has an H classification license – which covers grading and excavating work, but also allows them to perform demo work. Black & Sons, Inc. has been in the demo business for over 20 years and regularly does work in Mecklenburg County. So why wouldn’t the town just hire Black & Sons, Inc. directly to perform the necessary demo work?

Teron checks (redacted)

The monies used to pay Teron came from four different funding sources according to the town. There may be some explanation for why so many different funding sources were used to pay for this demo work, but this is just one example of why I encourage elected officials and residents to go through the budget line-by-line, so questionable payments like these can be scrutinized in a more timely manner.

  • Invoice #102116-102: Fire Station ($29,500) – Building Improvements – McIlwaine
  • Invoice #01132017-311: Planning ($7,800) – Contracted Services
  • Invoice #01132017-102: Planning ($8,000) – Contracted Services
  • Invoice #111616-201D: Governing Body ($16,000) – Demo – Anchor Mill
  • Invoice #091816-309: Public Works ($7,800) – Land – 2-way Pair
  • Invoice #091216-307: Public Works ($16,000) – Land – 2-way Pair
  • Invoice #091216-101: Governing Body ($7,800) – Demo – Anchor Mill
  • Invoice #081216: Public Works ($4,125) – Repair Main Building – two-way pair

I’m sure it’s a coincidence the payment for demo of the McIlwaine property was just under the $30,000 threshold that would have triggered an informal bid under NCGS 143-131.

The final payment listed for $4,125 was paid to Teron not for demo work, but for “repairs” to the dwelling at 319 N. Main St. performed in August 2016. The approx. 1,000 sq. ft. dwelling had apparently been damaged by a hit-and-run in July 2016 according to a police report. When competitive bids were later submitted for demo of this property, the bid was awarded to a company that quoted $4,850. The demo permit for 319 N. Main St. was issued by the county on June 27, 2017. To recap, the former town manager decided it was a good use of taxpayer money to spend $4,125 to repair a rental property to collect a few more months of rent (which it had stopped collecting by at least May 2017) only to demo the dwelling less than a year later at almost the same cost.

So why was Teron only paid for demo and repair work through January 2017 despite seven of the properties on the original proposal still needing to be demolished? Could it have something to do with former town manager Greg Ferguson’s sudden resignation on Jan. 9, 2017? The last payment issued to Teron according to records I was provided was dated Jan. 27, 2017 for work performed on Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, 2017.

On March 31, 2017, an email was sent from Ron Julian to Michelle Haines stating, “Attached is the quote for the demolition of the Town Properties. Let me know if you need any additional information.” No attachment was provided to me and it’s unclear if the quote described was the same quote previously provided by Teron in June 2016. Haines next emailed Teron on April 25, 2017 asking for a demo quote for 109 W. Church St. by May 1st and advising this dwelling may contain asbestos. Ron Julian emails Haines back the next day with a quote for 109 W. Church St. On May 11, 2017, Teron emails Haines asking for a status on these projects. Haines emails back the same day and states, “You should receive a letter in the mail from me today or tomorrow. It was determined to re-open the proposals, and if you wish, you may revise your proposal previously submitted. There is a new submission deadline of May 23rd.”

Who determined to re-open the demo proposals and why is unclear from the emails I was provided. But, if this was an attempt by then interim-town manager Gerry Vincent to remedy the wrongs of his predecessor, why did he never take the opportunity to disclose to the town board the payments already made to Teron? It is difficult to believe Vincent, as a long-time, award-winning assistant town manager under Ferguson, did not know about these no-bid contracts being awarded to a former town commissioner. Putting the remaining demo work out for bid was simply the bare minimum required of a competent town manager, and it was to be expected for someone who was interviewing for a job like Vincent was at the time (he was not made official town manager until July 17, 2017). If Vincent failed to inform the town board about this, what else is he not reporting to the town board?

Mr. Vincent is clearly carrying on Mr. Ferguson’s mushroom style of management when it comes to the town board, feed them excrement and keep them in the dark.

Near the very end of the two-and-a-half-hour-long town board meeting on June 5, 2017, the town board voted 5-0 (with Guignard recused) on Other Business Item P. to award demo contracts for seven dwellings to National Recovery & Wrecking Co. There was no public discussion by the board prior to the vote on this agenda item. If you’ll recall, the agenda packet for this particular meeting, which was dominated by the budget vote, was 297 pages. Buried on page 292 were two pages related to awarding of the demo contracts, including a competitive bid matrix from Teron and three other companies (Black & Sons, Inc. was not given an opportunity to bid on this work despite having performed the prior demo jobs) for demo of these seven properties [see below]. Teron’s bid was more than double the second highest bidder and almost 2.5 times higher than the bid submitted by National Recovery. The total eventually paid by the town to National Recovery for demo of seven properties, including a full asbestos abatement inspection, was $43,570.

060517 Demo Proposals

Based on the competitive bids submitted for the June 5, 2017 vote by the town board, it’s clear taxpayers were vastly overcharged by Teron for their prior work. Let’s hope the new board takes immediate action to ensure taxpayers are better protected in the future.

A final note. I have been a resident of Huntersville for four years now. The efforts at this blog are intended to improve transparency at town hall and ensure efficient use of taxpayer dollars, it’s not personal. As everyone is aware, I have been the campaign treasurer for the Danny Phillips campaign for the past two election cycles, so many people are likely to dismiss this as merely an extension of campaign politics. It isn’t. But, if you think the strident opposition by the Julians to Phillips and Guignard in particular during the recent campaign was based on principles and not personal, I have a no-cost transportation alternative to Charlotte to sell you. Mr. Julian paid for voter cards that were handed out at the polls on election day endorsing Melinda Bales, Brian Hines, Joe Sailers, and Nick Walsh. It will be interesting to see whether any of those four will make any public comments about their support by Mr. Julian going forward.

I’ll have more on this story later in the week.

Eric

Huntersville Board agenda – Nov. 20, 2017

There is a town board meeting tonight at 6:30pm – the pre-meeting starts at 5:30pm. You can view the agenda or download the full agenda packet here. You can watch a live stream of tonight’s meeting at the town’s Ustream page here. I can’t cover every agenda item so I always encourage residents to review these agendas and discuss any items of interest with the mayor or a board member because even a single motivated resident can make a difference on how the votes turn out on some of these.

Some thoughts below on one agenda item in particular – the vote on whether to spend $177,835 to purchase 11 new police vehicles. Later this week I’ll be reposting my very popular series of columns about Small Business Saturday and the buy local movement – you might remember these columns as the ones that resulted in my services no longer being needed at the Herald Weekly. And next Monday I’ll share some thoughts on a former elected official in Huntersville who has been paid at least $92,900 by the town since leaving office.

Other Business:

– Item C: The board will consider whether to approve a budget amendment allocating $177,835 from the general fund balance to the Police Department’s budget to purchase 11 police vehicles.

According to the town’s financial director, as of Nov. 6, 2017 the balance of unspent DOJ/Treasury equitable sharing funds available to Huntersville PD was approx. $395,261. And this is up from the total unspent funds of $347,807.19 just earlier this year in March. The last time HPD spent equitable sharing funds according to the equitable sharing certifications filed with the federal government was in FY 13/14 when approx. $414,704 was used for overtime, communications/computers (the bulk of the spending that year – $399,123.38 for radios) and weapons/protective gear.

According to the Justice Department’s Guide to Equitable Sharing for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, law enforcement equipment, including vehicles, is a permissible use of equitable sharing funds. You can read the Guide here – page 16 outlines the permissible uses. This same permissible use is outlined on the equitable sharing certification form. I have attached the most recently filed form for reference.

2017 Equitable Sharing

If you’re unfamiliar with equitable sharing and civil asset forfeiture and why HPD has almost $400K available to spend in addition to the $11.5 million provided by taxpayers in the FY 17/18 budget, you can learn more by reading the Institute for Justice’s Policing for Profit report here.

Why should general fund monies be used to purchase these vehicles when HPD appears to have more than enough in equitable sharing funds to cover the costs? The $177,835 being requested by HPD could go to satisfy many other needs in the town since it is money from the general fund. The equitable sharing funds available to HPD, however, are restricted and can only be used by HPD for law enforcement purposes.

Hopefully those board members willing to question requests from HPD will seek more information from Chief Spruill before voting tonight to allocate monies from the general fund.

Eric

HFFA Progress, But Still No Severance

A quick update on some encouraging news from the new management company at Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics that was overshadowed by the local election last week. Swim Club Management (“SCM”) CEO Brian Sheehan made remarks during the public comments portion of the town board meeting last Monday regarding a few key areas of improvement. You can listen to his comments from the Nov. 6 board meeting beginning at the 48:50 mark here.

HFFA now has an updated, more interactive website that you can check out here. The site was updated to better enhance the experience of members and has far more information about the facility, including class schedules, than did the old site.

Membership software has been updated to better track who is entering the facility. In conjunction with updating the membership software, SCM intends to audit membership rolls to help better define the various membership categories available and ensure appropriate revenues are being collected for each membership.

Since taking over management responsibilities in early September, SCM has collected approx. $15K in outstanding membership fees and has reduced NSF (non-sufficient funds)
 charges in each of their first two full months of processing membership fees. NSF fees were typically being assessed under prior management due to old or incorrect credit card information. These fees were being passed along to the town – i.e., the taxpayers. According to Huntersville Finance Director Jackie Huffman, “for the twelve months in FY 2017, declines and chargebacks averaged $17,131 per month, with a high of $22,677 and a low of 11,831. September and October 2017 have been processed at $15,270 and $10,023 respectively.”  SCM anticipates this downward trend to continue due to measures they have implemented to decrease the reliance on credit card payments.

Finally, SCM has added staff in certain areas while at the same time they are projecting annual payroll to be $100K lower than last year. If you add the savings above to the approx. $125K the town is saving just on the management fee alone ($183,564 v. $58,500) SCM has made close to a $250K impact on the HFFA bottom line in just the first two months. But, this is to be expected when you hire a management company who treats taxpayer dollars as they would their own dollars and has an actual incentive to make HFFA profitable.

It’s often hard to tell truth from fiction over the din of local elections, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers SCM is producing in just their first two months at HFFA.

And while we’re on the topic of HFFA – why has the town still not paid a termination fee to the prior management company for 6 months base management fees and for severance? The town was sent demand letters over two months ago by nine individuals with a payment deadline of Sept. 15, 2017, and we’re well past that deadline. It seems pretty easy to figure up the 6 months of base management fees total – $183,564 annual, so $15,297 x 6 = $91,782. Maybe it’s the 8 weeks of severance that is the sticking point. (You might remember the severance language being added to the last minute contract rushed through immediately prior to the 2015 elections…) Again, seems like that would be an easy calculation, so why didn’t those demanding severance just ask for a specific figure in their demand letters? Is it possible no specific figure was demanded so the public wouldn’t find out how much certain members of the prior management company were being compensated?

Funny thing, I saw a figure of $200K cited by at least two people during the recent campaign as the cost to taxpayers for severing ties with the former management company at HFFA – Joe Sailers and Jeff Neely (who currently lives in Davenport, FL where he enjoys making up fake news). No basis was ever provided for this figure despite my requests for more information. It’s almost as if the figure was completely made up as a campaign tactic to damage the four candidates who voted in support of a management change at HFFA. Even if you add the management fee total of $91,782 and the total severance demand of $95,287.29, you only come up with $187,069.29. And that’s assuming the town would ever pay severance to all nine individuals – which, hopefully, the town will not.

HFFA has cost Huntersville taxpayers millions since it opened – not even including the millions in property taxes sacrificed by the town board in July 2000 when they agreed to allow Duke Power to extend the term during which McGuire Nuclear could not be involuntarily annexed into Huntersville in exchange for accelerating tax equivalent payments to the town so HFFA could be built. If you’re reading this and didn’t live here in 2000 which is very likely, the town board members in July 2000, according to Meck BOE records, were Alex Barnette, Tim Breslin, Charles Guignard, Bill Pugh, Jr., and Jill Swain – along with Mayor Randy Quillen. Interestingly, the minutes from the meeting when this agreement was voted on have still not been located…

Let’s hope the positive trends at HFFA under SCM continue so maybe Huntersville taxpayers will be able to use those hotel/motel funds currently going to HFFA for something else one day other than subsidizing exercise.

Eric

Dishonest Politicians – Boone Edition

One of the primary reasons why so many people dislike so many politicians – they’re dishonest.

Local election results are in and Huntersville will have two new commissioners starting next month. But before moving on from this election, I wanted to write about one specific mailer from the campaign that has been bothering me since I received it this past Saturday – after I had already cast my ballot during early voting.

Commissioner Dan Boone sent out a large mailer on the last weekend of the campaign paid for by the Dan Boone Election Committee. On one side was a list of four reasons to vote for the candidate, but on the other side one specific “accomplishment” was prominently displayed – “The ONLY Town Commissioner to Attend ALL Town Board Meetings!”

This is completely false.

The mailer doesn’t say the only commissioner to attend all parts of all meetings, nor does it say the only commissioner who wasn’t late to any meeting. It says the only commissioner to attend all meetings.

I reviewed the minutes of every meeting of this board from Dec. 7, 2015 through Oct. 16, 2017 (minutes are not yet available for the Nov. 6, 2017 meeting – but all commissioners were present) and Commissioner Boone was present for all meetings, but so was Commissioner Guignard. Commissioner Guignard was late, however, to two meetings: Sept. 19, 2016 and Sept. 18, 2017. The reason he was late to those two meetings – he was performing his duties at the yearly Angels of ’97 charitable golf tournament.

And if you were wondering, over the past two years Commissioner Bales missed one meeting (Nov. 21, 2016), the mayor missed one meeting (Oct. 2, 2017), and Commissioner Phillips missed three meetings (Feb. 1, 2016, July 18, 2016*, and August 1, 2016*). Of course, two of the three meetings missed by Commissioner Phillips were directly related to the serious injuries he received after being hit by a truck – but I guess that’s still no excuse for missing town board meetings.

Besides his claim being completely false, simply being present is not actually an accomplishment in the real world. The town board is not like elementary school where we reward children for perfect attendance (which is really an award that should be given to parents of those children…). Companies don’t cease to function if their employees are late to work or take a day off – and neither does the town board.

Here’s something to consider – if Commissioner Boone had actually missed the June 6, 2016 meeting, we would have had a lower tax rate in Huntersville for at least one year. Reminder – Commissioner Boone voted against a lower tax rate at that meeting and the budget was passed after the mayor broke a 3-3 tie.

As everyone is very aware, Commissioner Boone agreed to run as part of team this election. By running a mailer with a false claim, he placed himself above the team by criticizing the other three members of the team. That he chose to run this mailer on the last weekend of the campaign after benefiting from the other candidates and their supporters putting up his signs, handing out his palm cards, putting him on multiple ads, and encouraging people to vote for him speaks volumes.

I called Commissioner Boone after I received the mailer and requested an explanation since Commissioner Guignard had also attended all meetings. He stood by the statement. He again stood by the statement last night in-person when I asked if he wanted to comment prior to running this article. I’m paraphrasing because I didn’t take down his statement in writing, but his explanation was that being late to the meeting doesn’t count as attending the meeting. He was raised to understand that if you were late to something, it was the same as being absent. He also explained that this same statement was on his campaign website and on one of his palm cards.

Here’s a little secret for any candidates reading this – roughly 99.2% of voters never look at your campaign websites and almost the same percentage never actually read your palm cards. This percentage is even higher for voters, like me, who have already decided to vote for you, which I had before receiving this mailer. The difference is you bring far more attention to something when you purposefully choose to highlight it on one side of an oversized mailer than when you bury it on your website or on a palm card.

So why pick this fight with a newly re-elected sitting commissioner the morning after the election? Because some things are more important than politics.

Commissioner Boone’s vote earlier this year to change management at HFFA took courage and was the right thing to do despite what hack reporters from WBTV might think. The singular importance of that vote was the only reason I voted for him this election. I regret my vote for Mr. Boone, it won’t happen again.

I welcome any response from Commissioner Boone.

Eric

Huntersville Town Board Questionnaire – Aaron Hintz

I emailed the following questionnaire to every town board candidate in Huntersville over a month ago in an effort to provide voters with more insight into each candidacy. [I received failed delivery messages from the email addresses listed for two candidates at the Mecklenburg BOE site – William Haigler and Jonathan Hudson.] There was no word limit for responses. Thanks to Aaron Hintz for responding – even if past the deadline. I’ll continue to post additional responses prior to the election if other candidates wish to respond.

Election day is Tuesday, November 7. If you need more information about local elections, you can visit the Mecklenburg Board of Elections website here.

Eric


A specific agenda item you want to work on if elected: Trains. We need to pursue developing a rail line into Huntersville and the Lake Norman area with the same zeal exhibited in pursuing Huntersville’s interests regarding  I-77.

For challengers – one specific vote over the last two years you disagreed with and why: While I respect the desire to provide concrete results to our citizens in the form of express buses, the town board erred when composing a resolution against a study for rail alternatives. The Board of Commissioners should take every opportunity to support any and all efforts to bring rail transportation to Huntersville.

What is the proper role of town government and do you think there is any limit to what town government can use taxpayer dollars for: The concise answer is anything allowable by state law and within the approval of the citizenship. Personally, I see town government as making sound investments to benefit the citizenship in the long and short term. These investments can bring about benefits that are concrete like infrastructure or intangible like a centennial celebration.

Should town government select winners and losers in business by providing tax incentives to certain companies over others: The town should use incentives as bargaining chips to guide the economic development of the community. The only winner should be Huntersville as a whole.

If elected, which non-profit and/or charitable endeavors do you intend to reward with taxpayer monies and which non-profit and/or charitable endeavors do you intend to deny taxpayer funding: While town governments typically support some group of non- profits in some capacity, I don’t have any set list of non-profits or charitable endeavors that deserve or necessarily don’t deserve town support. Each request would need be weighed on its own merits and against the needs or interests of the town.

If elected, is it more important to you to vote the will of the people (however that is determined) or to vote your conscience (except when the board is acting as a quasi-judicial body): In avoiding a complicated answer, the two should be one in the same. Instances when it is not, would need to be gauged individually.

Your favorite US president: I liked reading Jefferson the most, I respect the accomplishments of FDR, Kennedy exercised balanced judgement, GHW Bush is a man of admirable character. Most presidents had strengths to be emulated while also possessing weaknesses best avoided.

Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts: Krispy Kreme for glazed and DD for all else.

Your favorite 19th century French political economist: Given the relatively small pool from which to select, um…. Bastiat?  I have used the idea of opportunity cost in every decision since taking macro economics in 1991. It provides a wonderful, contextual depth for decision making: a choice isn’t just a choice, but a preference above all other possible choices at any one time and the fruit any one of those alternatives might ever bear.

How can readers find out more about your campaign? 

“Hintz for Huntersville” on Facebook