Huntersville Town Board Went Down To Georgia

Three members of the Huntersville town board – Commissioners Bales, Walsh, and Munger, along with the town manager, a member of planning staff, and Ryan McDaniels from LKN Economic Development, all recently traveled to Alpharetta, GA after receiving an invite from the new owners of the Birkdale shopping center. The first three: Bales, Walsh, and the town manager, traveled together in one vehicle down to Alpharetta in late January; the second three traveled down sometime in February [Edit: The second trip apparently hasn’t occurred yet.]. All town board members and the mayor were made aware of the invite, but only three chose to accept.

This trip has not been disclosed or discussed publicly despite two town board meetings being held since the trip in late January. If this was really just routine due diligence by our elected officials to learn more about how the second highest taxpayers in Huntersville have benefited a similarly situated municipality in Georgia, why the failure to disclose to the public? How much did this trip cost taxpayers and what expenses were paid by the new owners of the Birkdale shopping center? I attempted to learn more by submitting a records request on Feb. 17. I received two batches of emails included below as part of that request, but I am still awaiting additional documents, if any, including contracts, receipts, or invoices. 

The emails below are open to review by the public. Draw your own conclusions.


Alpharetta request Alpharetta request2

Huntersville Board Agenda – 21 January 2020

The full agenda packet for Tuesday night’s town board meeting (no meeting tomorrow night because of the holiday) can be found here. Two pre-meetings at 5:00 and 5:15 (that should be live streamed), regular meeting starts at 6pm. It’s only a 30-page agenda packet for this meeting so if you ever wanted to review an entire packet and provide some questions/comments to the town board this would be the meeting to do so. Again, what’s most interesting is what’s NOT included on the agenda – any discussion about the 913 page, $150K investigative report into HPD that the town is refusing to release any information about to the public. Your tax dollars paid for it, but you’re not entitled to know anything about why our police department was being investigated and not a single elected official in Huntersville has spoken out against the town’s suppression of this report.

Of note:

  • Item 6.B. – HFD, Inc. Budget Request. It’s that time of year again already, when all the town departments and outside agencies like HFD, Inc. come before the town board to justify being awarded taxpayer dollars – $4.3 million just for HFD, Inc. last year, and without almost no oversight at all of how those monies are spent. The HFD, Inc. chief will appear before the town board and provide them a written report with updated stats from the last year along with a budget breakdown for the requested funding for FY 20/21 – so why is this report not included in the agenda packet so the town board and residents can review it BEFORE the meeting? Because that would allow for too much time for the board members or residents to review the figures and budget request ahead of time in order to properly prepare any questions that might need to be asked of the chief from the dais. It’s just $4 million or so of your money, no need to really dig into how the money will be spent. Transparency!!
  • Item 9.B. – Approve Conterra Fiber agreement. A contract for AT LEAST $89,000 in upfront costs (because we all know construction projects never go over budget) and recurring monthly charges of $900 (which is $10,800/yr) to provide for installation of fiber between HPD HQ and town center. So many questions about this item that need to be asked by your town board – here are a few I’d suggest asking to start. First – cui bono – who benefits? Where is the money for this project coming from – which line item in the HPD budget? Why not wait and include this item in the capital requests for HPD in the upcoming FY 20/21 budget, why the immediate need to move forward with this project now? What will this $900/month “maintenance fee” go towards, and will the town still have to pay for internet service with another third-party provider? If so, how much will those costs be and will that offset any alleged savings over the current $1,910 monthly fee being paid to CenturyLink? How did the town’s new IT Director, Larry Davis (a former Cornelius employee), determine this new fiber network was even needed after just being in Huntersville since July? Who else did Mr. Davis receive “informal quotes” from and why weren’t those quotes included in the agenda packet? Why does the contract with Conterra include three cameras with coordinates at Gilead/21, at Gilead in front of the hospital, and at Gilead/McCoy? Is this just another step in setting up the dark fiber infrastructure necessary to implement town-wide surveillance by HPD? Are there any conflicts between any town employee and Conterra that need to be disclosed?

More about the company HPD wants to go into business with that is based out of Charlotte. Conterra Networks is majority owned by Court Square Capital, a private equity firm with approximately $6 billion of assets under management, with the remaining ownership largely held by Conterra Networks’ management team.



Huntersville Board Agenda – 6 January 2020

The full agenda packet for tomorrow night’s town board meeting can be found here. Closed session pre-meeting at 5:00 with the town attorney to discuss a lawsuit filed by the town, regular meeting starts at 6pm. It’s a 236-page agenda packet for this meeting. Again, what’s most interesting is what’s NOT included on the agenda – any discussion about the 913 page, $150K investigative report into HPD that the town is refusing to release any information about to the public. Your tax dollars paid for it, but you’re not entitled to know anything about why our police department was being investigated and not a single elected official in Huntersville has spoken out against the town’s suppression of this report. And I’m sure the electeds and former electeds who pretend to care about transparency are going to be outraged that no copy of the lawsuit the board is going into closed session to discuss was included in the agenda packet. I requested a copy on Dec. 31 when the agenda was published and have yet to be provided a copy. But, this isn’t a complaint! I’m still #OneTownOneTeam all year in 2020!

Of note:

  • Item 8.A. – “Hunter House” rezoning request. Must be nice to still have property that the town didn’t forcibly take for a road project to request a rezoning for. Property owners directly across the street on Old Statesville can’t say the same. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 8.C. – A text amendment request by the LNEDC (aka, Ryan McDaniels) to yet again benefit new, big business in Huntersville to allow for larger signage. When is the last time the LNEDC did anything to benefit existing businesses in Huntersville? And in case you’re under the impression we live in a free society, just look at all the rules Huntersville has about putting up signs. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.A. – Final vote on the Oak Grove rezoning request. Town planning staff recommends approval, the planning board voted 6-2 against based on reasons the town staff found no issues with. Be sure to listen for any objective reasons provided by any town board members who vote against this rezoning. And if this project can’t get approval, will all those who have worked in opposition be willing to buy the property from the owners so it can remain undeveloped, pristine open space forever? #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.C. – The Ordinance Advisory Board needs to be shrinking, not growing. I agree with making a town board member nonvoting, but why would the town board increase membership on this advisory board that has become just another layer of bureaucracy and basically a mini-planning board? #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.D. – Consider approving the new Ranson/Rosedale Park master plan. $0 financial implications for a new town park?? Why is Parks and Rec staff allowed to put an item on the agenda and attempt to claim a new park is going to have $0 financial implications when that new park is proposed to have parking, restrooms, landscaping, multiple “play” structures and fitness equipment, not to mention the ongoing responsibility of Parks and Rec to maintain. Will any town board member inquire about the costs of this new park before voting to approve? #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.F. – Consider appointments to the “Public Art” commission. Just a reminder your local government is engaging in the arbitrary process of art criticism, which is totally never problematic at all. Also a reminder that the town board should immediately disband the “public art commission” and allow an art group similar to the Old Huntersville Historic Society model to form if enough citizens are even interested in such a group. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 10.D. – Just another $84K in taxpayer monies going to greenway planning. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 10.E. – Just more CDBG entanglement with the general government. And at what cost to the town? No town board member could even tell you what strings come attached with this funding. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 10.F. – Adopt Uniform Guidance Procurement Policy. Why is this new procurement policy under the consent agenda? Why are we just moving to adopt now? Why is the town being encouraged to use federal surplus equipment? How is this a “cost reduction” if it increases federal purchasing of excess equipment? Is this new policy tied to a specific project? Just a reminder it is never appropriate to include an item under the consent agenda if there is a single question about the item. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Items 10.G. & 10.H. – Two more public hearings for rezonings during the 3 February 2020 board meeting.



Huntersville Residents Still Not Being Told About HPD Investigation

An investigation into the Mooresville Police Department continues to have an impact. The most recent reporting indicates another high ranking member of MPD, who was also the original whistleblower, may be fired. Meanwhile in Huntersville, the same agency has concluded a similar investigation into the Huntersville Police Dept. and yet no one in town appears to knows anything about the report. The town manager has confirmed the 913 page report (14,000 pages including appendix/attachments) cost the taxpayers $150,000 and yet the public still knows nothing about the report or why the investigation was even done in the first place. This $150,000 was paid out of the HPD budget from “contract services.” If only someone had been calling for a line by line review of the HPD budget and the $700K+ in “contract services” that is never broken out by line item so that the taxpayers would have a better idea what the money is being used for…

The town board had an hour long closed session related to “personnel” preceding Monday night’s meeting, which I have to assume was to brief them on this report, but not a single staff member or town board member provided any overview or summary of their closed session briefing – because apparently us regular, un-elected residents don’t need to know the basis for or the results of an investigation into our police department. Mooresville has already had their chief resign, demoted two high ranking officers, and now apparently intends to fire a captain, all as a result of the ISS investigation into their department, but a similar investigation into HPD results in zero changes?

When are the residents of Huntersville going to learn any details about the ISS investigation into HPD?



Huntersville Board Agenda – November 18, 2019

The full agenda packet for tomorrow night’s town board meeting can be found here. Closed session pre-meeting at 5:00 to discuss personnel (a full hour of pre-meeting, that must mean the town board is finally getting an update on the internal investigation done at HPD by an outside agency… sure would be nice if us regular citizens could find out what’s all in the investigative report since it was paid for with our tax dollars), regular meeting starts at 6pm. It’s just a 114 page agenda packet for this meeting, but there is a lot that should be discussed.

Of note: This is the last full board meeting for Commissioners Phillips and Gibbons. I appreciate their service to the town over the past few years and their willingness to listen to my many, many, many complaints.

  • Item 8.A. – A public hearing being held at the request of a home builder to amend the town’s zoning ordinance to allow for more density in Highway Commercial districts. Town planning staff and the Ordinance Advisory Board (by a 7-1 vote against, including a vote in opposition by Commissioner Boone) are both opposed to the requested change. The request will next go to the Planning Board on Nov. 19. This is the perfect example of an item where the town board needs to question the premises being pushed by town staff in their “staff comments,” but since it’s just the public hearing don’t expect anyone on the town board to dig into this item enough to bother wasting time with questions. What the town board (or anyone from the public who actually has time to show up and speak during the public hearing) should be asking is a) how does town staff expect to make housing more affordable by building less of it, and b) why is town staff still making decisions based on a rail line that isn’t ever coming to Huntersville? Town staff uses the term “transit stations” instead of “proposed transit stations” or “possible transit stations” in their comments even though no actual transit stations exist, just hypothetical transit stations at three planned locations in Huntersville all based on a rail line that was sold to residents in Huntersville to justify a half-cent sales tax for transit options to benefit Charlotte.
  • Item 9.B. – Why exactly are the developers of the new Birkdale Golf Mixed Use project paying $362,208 to the town for a turn lane across town at Gilead/Beatties Ford? And someone tell me again about how developers don’t pay any impact fees in Huntersville?
  • Item 9.C. – Is $600K really the best offer the town could get for 2 acres of prime real estate at Gilead/US-115 next to Discovery Place Kids for a developer out of Cornelius to build a new multi-use project?
  • Item 10.C. – Just $300 in “financial implications for a greenway? Yes, this item is just related to the easement, but the town should really start being honest about how much greenway development and maintenance costs taxpayers.
  • Item 10.D. – Kudos to town staff on getting an interest rate reduction from First Community Bank on the note for HPD HQ, which will result in savings to the taxpayers of approx. $52,780.
  • Finally, Item 10.E. – An amendment to the town’s personnel policy to allow for a recruiting incentive program just for HPD. WHY IS THIS ITEM ON THE CONSENT AGENDA?? It is never appropriate to place items on the consent agenda if there are any questions about the item and if there are no questions about this item then your town board should be ashamed. Why not allow for a recruiting incentive program for all town departments – HPD isn’t the only department with vacancies. Is there just a typo in the amendment stating adopted 2018 on pg. 109/114 or is the town board trying to make this new policy retroactive to a year ago? Why is there no cap on the costs related to this program? Why is there no sunset provision for this program? Who will be responsible for oversight of this program to ensure no collusion or abuse occurs? How much will this ultimately cost taxpayers? If incentives are to be paid out of existing funds in the HPD budget, but this is a new program that wasn’t anticipated in preparation of the current HPD budget, does that mean HPD is over-budgeted and the town board needs to finally start cutting the HPD budget instead of letting it grow unabated every year??


Some Tough Questions For Munger and the Slate

I’m not sure which caption would work best with this photo – “We’re Totally Not a Slate,” or “Don’t Ask Us Any Tough Questions.” One tough question an interested voter might ask, “Do all members of the Blank Slate support political violence against opponents or just Mr. Munger?” Here’s another tough question an interested voter might ask, “How can you call yourself a “supporter of law enforcement” with an Antifa supporter on your slate?” To be fair, I didn’t ask whether a candidate was an Antifa supporter on my questionnaire. [Note to self: on 2021 questionnaire, ask candidates if they support domestic terrorism.]

Mr. Munger isn’t shy about his left wing political positions and he was still welcomed onto the slate. He was a candidate for town board in 2017 and has been campaigning ever since the last election and yet his social media feeds are almost entirely devoted to national political issues, not Huntersville issues. Here’s another tough question an interested voter could ask Mr. Munger, “Are you running because you want to make a difference locally or because you want to bring national Democratic politics to Huntersville?”

Another tough question voters should be asking any candidate, like Mr. Munger, campaigning on “revitalizing downtown” is what that actually means? It definitely doesn’t mean using their own money to invest in downtown. To me, it sounds like a polite way of saying I will use government force to take your property and have it put to a use that I approve of using other people’s money.

Does Huntersville really want to elect someone who is “interested” in attending an Antifa rally? Next time you see the slate out campaigning (unless it’s at one of the private house parties you weren’t invited to), make sure you ask them if they support Antifa too.


2019 Huntersville Candidate Questionnaires – John Aneralla

I emailed the following questionnaire to every town board candidate in Huntersville a month ago in an effort to provide voters with more insight into each candidacy. There was no word limit for responses. Only three candidates returned the questionnaire by the deadline (and one late entry from Mayor Aneralla): Dan Boone, Stacy Phillips, and Brian Hines. I am definitely not an undecided voter and there’s little doubt which candidates I could or do support, but this questionnaire was intended to benefit the hundreds of other voters in the Huntersville Politics group who are still undecided and who don’t know the candidates/issues as well, so it’s disappointing more candidates didn’t participate.

Election day is Tuesday, November 5. If you need more information about local elections, you can visit the Mecklenburg Board of Elections website here.


– A specific agenda item you want to work on if elected:  I want to continue to accelerate the town’s infrastructure projects (roads, sidewalks & greenways) to complement the over $550 million worth of local, state and federal road projects.


– For incumbents – any vote over the last two years you would change and why – or, if none, any item you wish you the board would have accomplished and why:  The hiring of a full-time town attorney sooner than we did. The new attorney has reviewed and updated many procedures and contracts benefiting both the town and its citizens.


– 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 role of town government is determined by State statute, which a town should adhere to and not stray away from. Towns get into trouble for example when they buy bankrupt cable companies and try to compete with the private sector.


– If you are running on an anti-growth platform, how do you intend to legally halt or slow down growth in Huntersville? Be specific.:


– If not running on an anti-growth platform, how do you plan to deal with growth challenges if elected?:  Allowing for a wide variety of housing options balanced with commercial development should be the goal of town government. Updating the 2030 community plan will help direct the town staff, developers and elected officials well into the future.


– Should town government select winners and losers in business by providing tax incentives/tax rebates to certain companies over others:  In general, I am against any type of incentives given to one company over another. It should be government’s goal to keep taxes low combined with common sense regulations to create a positive environment for all businesses to flourish.

Only under VERY rare circumstances should government offer tax incentives to a business. A good example of this is when BMW received tax incentives to locate to the Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina. BMW’s presence in the area brought in related businesses and suppliers that transformed the area from the dying textile industry to a high-tech manufacturing destination.


– Are you hoping to benefit yourself personally if elected? If yes, explain. If no, one example of prioritizing Huntersville over your own self-interests:  No, I only own my home and do not have any business interests in Huntersville.


– 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):  An elected official should always vote their conscience after considering all sides of an issue and be able to articulate why he or she voted in the way they did.


– Does the town need to do more to ensure transparency and accountability in its departments, including the use of independent, professional audits?:  The town has a financial audit every year. In addition, with a new town manager and town attorney in place over the past 15 months, many areas of town government have been scrutinized internally and with assistance from outside professionals.


– Do you support the public education status quo in Huntersville?:  I think Huntersville should continue to pursue all options proposed by the Huntersville Education Option Study Commission to ensure excellent education options for all children in the town.


– Cats or Dogs (or Chickens)?:  Dog


– Best place to get pizza in or around Huntersville:  I grew up in a family with a pizza restaurant, so pizza is one of my favorite foods. Fortunately, in Huntersville we have many great pizza establishments!


– Your favorite 19th century French political economist:


– Person/group most responsible for influencing your political views?:  My dad. He taught the value of hard work and not relying on government to be successful.


– How can readers find out more about your campaign? (social media, website)?: