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

An Update on the HFFA Transition

It’s been just over a month now since a new company began managing Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics (“HFFA”). The Swim Club Management Group (“SCMG”) based in Huntersville was awarded the HFFA management contract by the town board this summer after the prior management group had managed the facility since 2002. I wanted to see how the transition was going so I reached out to SCMG CEO Brian Sheehan to get his thoughts.

Eric


– What are some of the immediate changes SCM has implemented at HFFA over the past month?

We have made a number of changes, many of which members will begin to fully enjoy over the next 30-60 days. For example, we immediately closed down the outdated Café and signed an agreement with Summit Coffee to have them renovate and operate the Café and kitchen. We see an opportunity with this arrangement to increase our member service by offering a more diverse, healthy menu to our members. The arrangement should also be a boast to overall profitability. We have also signed agreements to purchase new fitness equipment. Members will soon see new equipment and repurposed spaces that will allow for bootcamp style classes and other specialized group exercise classes. 

We are also working with an outside firm to perform a membership survey at no additional cost to members or the taxpayers. We will receive their presentation on the results later this week and we expect to implement additional changes based on membership feedback. 

– How have HFFA members reacted to some of these immediate changes?

The response has been terrific. Some of the changes have been small. For example, we added complimentary fruit infused water at the entrance, dedicated a room to cycle/spin classes and created a classroom more conducive for the yoga classes. These changes cost very little but have made for a much better member experience. 

– Do you have any social media or marketing plans to attract new members to HFFA?

Yes, we identified this as an opportunity for improvement early on. We have enhanced our presence on social media and plan to do a better job of engaging our members through social media moving forward. In addition, we signed an agreement recently to have the HFFA website redesigned. The current website is outdated and unengaging. I believe the last time they updated the Current Events Section was 2015. Our members can expect a more functional and dynamic website within a few weeks.

– What are some of the short-term goals SCMG is focusing on at HFFA?

Our immediate focus has been on improving the members experience. We believe the best way to attract new members is to offer our current members a great experience. We have also put a heavy emphasis over the past 30 days on cleaning up a few risk management issues. Part of having a positive member experience is keeping our members and their children safe. This is a responsibility we take very serious and we are moving quickly to make certain all areas of the facility are operating at industry best-practice. 

– How do you see HFFA benefiting from or complementing the town’s new rec center still under construction across the street on Verhoeff?

We have quickly established a great working relationship with Parks & Recreation and we are excited to create synergies with their new space. They have offered all HFFA members free access to the facility which provides a great value proposition for our members. 

– Can you briefly explain how HFFA is funded – including how taxpayers contribute.

HFFA is funded, in part, by Tourism (Hotel/Motel) Taxes, along with other revenue sources like membership fees. Our goal is to reduce the reliance on taxpayer funds at HFFA. 

Within our first week we identified that there were numerous members with past due balances. In fact, the total dollar amount was in excess of $12,000. Our team worked diligently on this matter and within our first 30 days we have collected over $10,000 in past due fees. In most cases the issue was simply a member that had obtained a new credit card and forgot to update us. Making all those phone calls was certainly not the most fun job in the building during the first 30 days, but it was necessary to properly operate the business. We understand the fiduciary responsibility we have to the taxpayers to be good stewards of their money and the people of Huntersville can expect us to operate accordingly.   

– What message do you have for those who were opposed to the decision to make a change in management at HFFA?

Whether you advocated for a change in management or opposed a change in management, we welcome you as a member at HFFA.  I have lived here most of my life and I know the people of Huntersville are fair and open-minded. I hope everyone will take the time to stop into the facility over the next 60 days and see the positive changes we’re making. 

Huntersville Town Board Questionnaire – Dan Boone

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 Commissioner Dan Boone for responding – even if slightly 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: One specific agenda item I want to work on is working with our new Huntersville Ordinance Advisory Board in their efforts to review and overhaul our town’s ordinances and regulations to eliminate those that are unnecessary and overburden our citizens and businesses.

[For incumbents] Any vote over the last two years you would change and why – or, if none, any item you would have accomplished and why: My only regret is that we did not pass term limits for members of volunteer town boards.

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: North Carolina is a Dillon Rule state which means the role of Huntersville’s town government (and the role of all town governments in NC) and what town government can use taxpayer dollars for is already defined and limited by state law. We may only take on the roles and powers and perform tasks expressly granted to us by state law or “fairly implied by the expressed power in the statute.” Key roles granted to municipalities include public safety (police and fire protection, etc.), providing certain services to citizens such as trash pick-up, building and maintaining town streets and roads, planning and zoning, enacting local ordinances to protect the public good as long as they do not conflict with state law, providing parks and recreational opportunities for residents, and the ability to levy certain taxes and fees on citizens to pay for the roles we fill. I believe that we should closely adhere to Dillon’s rule and to state law. It is a much needed limitation on the powers of local government.

Should town government select winners and losers in business by providing tax incentives to certain companies over others: I personally strongly dislike tax incentives and wish that no one is allowed to use them. However, as long as other towns, cities, counties and states have the option to offer tax incentives then offering them must remain an option for Huntersville. I believe that the use of incentives should be evaluated closely on a case by case basis and that we should use incentives very sparingly on projects that will have a very significant impact on our town and our region’s economy. Any time that we decide to offer incentives they must include aggressive clawbacks designed to guarantee that if a company does not create the amount jobs and/or invest as much in our local economy as they agreed to do that incentives must be repaid along with interest and other penalties.

I also believe that we should focus just as much on creating a business-friendly atmosphere that encourages our existing businesses to expand, grow and create jobs as we do on recruiting new business to town. We can do this by continuing to eliminate overly burdensome regulations, keeping our tax rate low, tackling the traffic challenges we face, keeping our community safe, and ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support their growth and expansion. 

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: I support the town’s current policy and guidelines for allocating grants to not-for-profit corporations.

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): I believe that I was elected to represent the citizens of Huntersville and that I work for them. They are my bosses. Whenever the will of the people is not in conflict with my conscience then I will vote the will of the people. When the will of the people conflicts with my conscience I will explain to our citizens the concerns I have and work to try to come up with a solution or compromise that can reconcile the will of the people with my conscience. If that is not possible then I will follow my conscience and do what I believe is right for our town and its citizens.

Your favorite US president: Ronald Reagan. I admire President Reagan for his leadership, his courage, his willingness to speak his mind, his love for our country and its citizens, and his optimism for the future of America.  His vision of America as “a Shining City on a Hill” still inspires me to this day.  

Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts: Krispy Kreme

Your favorite 19th century French political economist: Frederic Bastiat for his developing the concept of opportunity cost, for his pamphlet The Law, and for providing the economic beliefs and theories that serve as the foundation for the Austrian school of economics.

How can readers find out more about your campaign? 

booneforhuntersville.com

facebook.com/danboonehuntersville

– email: danboonenc @ aol.com

Huntersville Town Board Questionnaire – Charles Guignard

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. [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 Commissioner Charles Guignard for responding – even if slightly past the deadline.

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: To continue to work with the state legislatures to help make Huntersville be on equal footing with Charlotte/Mecklenburg County with regards hotel/motel tax, prepared food tax, schools ABC monies and many other issues because we are severely lacking and not being treated appropriately in those areas currently.

[For incumbents] Any vote over the last two years you would change and why – or, if none, any item you would have accomplished and why: If I were King for a day I would take Flouride out of regions water because it is a known toxic waste and we only can begin to know what harm it is causing our society.

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 town should continue to provide everything from appropriate, realistic police and fire protection to efficient waste pickup as well as the planning and infrastructure services the town currently provides. So there is and always should be a limit with some being perceived and some being real as well as those dictated by Mother Charlotte.

Should town government select winners and losers in business by providing tax incentives to certain companies over others: As a small business owner of over 40 years, I have always struggled with subsidies especially those the previous administration gave to Wal-Mart. However, I approach each of these as they are presented to us and base a decision on long-term benefit to the community.

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: I abide by and will continue to abide by the policy the board has in place for such contributions.

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): I will approach each vote on individual merit and always vote with the long-term benefit to the community in mind.

Your favorite US president: Dwight D. Eisenhower because of the road system he created. 

Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts: Krispy Kreme, except for the Dunkin Donuts maple donut.

Your favorite 19th century French political economist: I am French and don’t know one.

How can readers find out more about your campaign? [no answer provided – and don’t bother searching for Commissioner Guignard’s social media accounts, your best bet is to reach him by phone.]

Huntersville Town Board Questionnaire – Mark Gibbons

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. [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 Commissioner Mark Gibbons for responding – even if slightly past the deadline.

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: As long as the issues we have already worked on (ETJ, Dispatch, roads, HFFA) continue to progress as I hope, I would like to focus on getting a fairer distribution of ABC money for Huntersville, and continue to look for ways to save money for the taxpayers. I continue to be active in trying to get a better solution to the HOT lanes on I77 which includes lobbying our elected reps at state and federal level to change the voting structure at CRTPO.

[For incumbents] Any vote over the last two years you would change and why – or, if none, any item you would have accomplished and why: I stand by all of my votes. With that said, I may have voted differently on a tax incentive plan having more knowledge of the subject. I try to educate myself on the issues we face and make the best decision based on what I feel is best for Huntersville overall. I think this board has been deliberate and sound in our decisions.  That is not to say everyone agrees with them.

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: Municipal government should provide safety services (police and fire), other public health services (trash pickup and ordnances that protect all), planning of development and infrastructure, local road maintenance and building new local roads as required, and some recreational amenities.

Should town government select winners and losers in business by providing tax incentives to certain companies over others: No. I did vote to give tax incentives and alluded to that above. As for picking or discriminating, it is never presented as giving company A something and giving company B nothing. What each company brings to the local area is considered (# of jobs and salary range, capital investment value, and their commitment to Huntersville). I lean towards minimal incentives, but cannot say I would never vote for an incentive package.

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: I was one of the board members who pushed our new town policy on charitable contributions. [Note – you can review the policy in question at a prior post on this issue here.] I feel that giving taxpayer money to charities we (town board) choose is wrong.  Charity is not, by definition, government taking your money and giving it to someone else. I want to be very clear, there are many local charities that serve Huntersville residents and are deserving of charitable donations, just not from government.

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): This is a no win question. I say I am elected to represent the people of Huntersville (even those who do not vote for me), but I find that my conscience usually leads me to that vote. If it feels wrong to me, it is probably wrong for Huntersville.

Your favorite US president: Teddy Roosevelt

Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts: Dunkin, but sure glad to have a new donut shop in town, Duck Donuts.

Your favorite 19th century French political economist: I was going to say Comte (tic), but since you are asking the question, Bastiat all the way.

How can readers find out more about your campaign?

electmarkgibbons.com

– email: electmarkgibbons @ gmail.com

facebook.com/electmarkgibbons

Huntersville Town Board Questionnaire – Brian Hines

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. [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 Brian Hines for responding – even if slightly past the deadline.

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: Roads-Have been talking about some of the same road projects since the time I served on the Planning Board in the mid 2000’s. No reason we cannot move these projects forward quicker.

[For challengers] One specific vote over the last two years you disagreed with and why: [no answer provided]

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: Protect citizens and oversee and steward their tax dollars

Should town government select winners and losers in business by providing tax incentives to certain companies over others: We need to encourage Economic Development in our town as it is critical for our tax base.

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: [no answer provided]

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): [no answer provided]

Your favorite US president: Ronald Reagan

Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts: Krispy Kreme

Your favorite 19th century French political economist: I do not follow enough to have a favorite. [Frederic Bastiat would have been an acceptable answer.]

How can readers find out more about your campaign?

electbrianhines.com

– facebook.com/electbrianhines/