Dec 222013

Hites named interim manager
Dec. 19, 2013 by Carolyn Steeves

MONROE — Monroe City Council voted unanimously to name Robert Hites, Jr. as interim city manager. He will begin Jan. 6.

Assistant City Manager Greg Demko will serve as acting city manager until Jan. 6, in order to sign contracts and conduct city manager business.

Mayor Pro Tem Dottie Nash said after the vote that Demko did “an excellent” job as interim city manager between Wayne Herron and John D’Agostino, but she felt Demko was more valuable as a finance manager and needs to focus on the budget.

Hites, 61, retired last year after serving as the Statesville city manager for 15 years. He also served as city manager in Lumberton, Southport and Pittsboro.

He will be the third acting city manager this year, but Hites said that does not concern him.

via Hites named interim manager | The Enquirer Journal.

Considering Monroe’s dysfunctional council of recent years, anyone hired is an interim.

Dec 132013

By Carolyn Steeves

MONROE — The Union County Board of Education rejected the Union County Board of County Commissioner’s most recent settlement offer Thursday.

The refusal came in the form of a seven-page letter sent Thursday to County Commission Chairman Frank Aikmus, Vice-Chairman Jerry Simpson and the three other county commissioners.

UCPS Board of Education met in closed session Tuesday and decided unanimously to reject the offer.

“Eleven million dollars is a lot of money,” School Board Chairman Richard Yercheck said. He said all nine members of the board wanted to thoughtfully consider the offer made by the county commissioners.

“At the end of the day, we wanted to honor the jury verdict and the fact that we’ve got more than $91 million (worth) of needs,” he said.

Yercheck added that they want to structure the $91 million jury verdict over a period of time so there would not be a hardship on the taxpayers and the county could continue moving forward with its needs without requiring a tax increase.

“The school board is willing to agree to payments made on a schedule that is both aggressive and attainable, so that we can begin to address these needs,” Yercheck wrote in the letter. “I would welcome the opportunity to meet and work with you constructively towards that end.”

Richard Schwartz, the school board’s attorney, will contact Union County Attorney Ligon Bundy to respond in more detail to the settlement offer, according to the letter.

The commissioners asked for a joint meeting between the two boards in a Dec. 2 meeting. No such meeting is yet scheduled.

Whether a joint meeting could be productive would depend on several concerns, Yercheck wrote in the letter. A meeting now to discuss developing the school’s 2014-2015 budget would be premature due to the statutory timeline imposed by the state and the standard budget development process.

Last year, the budget timeline was accelerated and it was neither convenient nor productive for the school board and did not have a positive result, he wrote.

“Given those results last year, we think it would be more productive to maintain the normal budget development schedule, as set by state law, which allows us to receive more reliable information about our needs and obligations and more reliable information from other funding sources, so that we can produce a more informed and better budget,” the letter states. “This will also enable you to gain a better idea of your additional revenues available at the time you receive our budget.”

Yercheck also addressed the desire to promote improved relations between these two boards. It is something the commissioners seem to strongly endorse as a goal, but he questioned their method.

“We can all agree that it is important for the two boards to develop a better working relationship,” he wrote. “However, it would not be fruitful to have a meeting in which school officials are chastised and characterized as irresponsible spenders by commissioners, sometimes reading scripts, which all too frequently has been the case.”

He instead suggested they address outstanding issues regarding the 2013-2014 budget and the jury verdict awarded in the fall.

“The Board of Education has a $91 million money judgment against the county,” Yercheck wrote. “The judgment is a legal obligation, but more than that, it represents the jury’s findings as to the existing needs of the Union County Public Schools. That is an essential fact that seems to be ignored in the County’s responses.”

He added that so far, the county’s main response to the verdict has been to file an appeal.

Yercheck also objected to the perceived characterization of the school board by commissioners.

“All too often, the attitude toward the Board of Education from commissioners is to attack and disrespect the school board,” he wrote. “The Board of Education has been characterized as ‘spending like drunken sailors’ and commissioners have told our citizens in public meetings that you have protected them from ‘tax and spend school board.’’

The “drunken sailor” comment refers to something said by

During the April 16, 2012 commissioners meeting, Commissioner Jonathan Thomas said, “That’s what we need folks, we need a board of education that will work with us, not send out publicity stints (sic) to get people all upset when we’re spending money like drunken sailors in the central office.”

Yercheck’s letter states that both boards are elected and entitled to equal respect and the the school system is not a department of the county.

Yercheck also addressed the settlement offer made Dec. 2, which had a deadline of noon, Dec. 6.

via Union school board rejects deal | The Enquirer Journal.

Dec 092013
Mayor's Mug Shot

Mayor’s Mug Shot

From the EJ:

Mayor, board members topic of special Waxhaw meeting

Dec. 07, 2013 Heather Smith

WAXHAW — Mayor Daune Gardner is one of topics of a special called meeting of the Waxhaw Board of Commissioners.

Outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Erin Kirkpatrick called the meeting Monday at 11:30 a.m. in the town hall conference room to talk about several topics. One topic is Gardner’s “office, reimbursement for improperly charged Town credit card expenses, expenses charged to Town Credit Card non-compliant with Travel/Reimbursements and budget.”

Any action would be the last for outgoing members of the board. It comes a day before Waxhaw’s new commissioners take their oaths of office. The timing did not escape Gardner’s notice.

“As a matter of precedent, it is customary for outgoing elected officials to defer items of new business to the incoming members, particularly items that may be controversial,” Gardner wrote in a letter to the editor.

The commission will also discuss two other volunteer town board members, William Hardman and Jason Loseke, who were members of the board of adjustment and parks and recreation committee respectively. Hardman was also an unsuccessful candidate for town commissioner.

Gardner drew criticism in May when she was charged with DWI by a Waxhaw Police officer. As news of her arrest spread, so did allegations she broke town policy by using the town credit card to pay for alcohol. The board of commissioners voted to censure her.

Gardner is still awaiting a decision on her charges. Her next court appearance is Jan. 15, 2014.

The story above doesn’t begin to tell everything. That would take a book.

I wish to point out a couple of inaccuracies in the mayor’s comments. For one, the issue of the mayors credit cards and repayment is old business, and Waxhaw has a long history of the outgoing board conducting business prior to the new term and seating of new members.

From my anonymous sources, this meeting was not ALL the doing of Mayor Pro-Tem Erin Leigh Kirkpatrick, two other commissioners asked for items to be added to the agenda. The latest word is that one of those two have now decided to skip the meeting — We will have to wait an see.

The mayor earned her second DUI last May. She has DEMONSTRATED a pattern of alcohol abuse, irresponsibility and PUBLIC ENDANGERMENT.

HOW many people have had their lives disrupted or destroyed by drunk drivers?

In addition to that, there are unresolved questions concerning the USE of TOWN CREDIT CARDS to buy ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. In a previous meeting the commissioners voted to remove the mayors travel budget and credit card privileges. The fact that SHE WAS GIVEN THEM TO BEGIN WITH boggles the mind.

Hey WAXHAW are your taxes SO LOW that you can afford to fund MAYOR PARTY anywhere she chooses to go.

TAXPAYERS and CITIZENS deserve better, but to all the in MAYOR EXCUSE SQUAD one note:

If the mayor was a regular citizen, I wouldn’t have a thing say about her behavior, but she is an elected official. Elected OFFICIALS must be held to a higher standard. We can’t allow sympathies or other emotion to cloud the issue.

She has embarrassed the citizens of WAXHAW, making you a laughing stock of the region. Nowhere that your mayor goes can she hide the facts, nor is the ridicule of Waxhaw. Stories about the Mayor’s behavior have been in the Raleigh media and of course the internet.

WE have to regain control of our elected officials, but it starts at the local level. YOU HAVE TO CARE AND DEMAND ONLY THE BEST or you get what they are only too happy to give you.

BY THE WAY, in tomorrow’s regular meeting, YOUR MAYOR has placed on the agenda, requests to restore her travel budget and credit card privileges.

Apparently the mayor has certain expectations of the new board members, taking the OATH OF OFFICE tomorrow night.

Dec 032013

Removing an “advisory” board is going to solve the problems? Seriously?

The Commissioners can’t manage a sewer plant, but some how the collective brain trust and over centralized bureaucracy is going to do a better job.

With no advisory board, the problems and issues facing DSS will disappear behind the iron curtain of commissioner secret communication and apathy.

But don’t worry, what you don’t know won’t hurt you.

WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

The WBTV reports highlight major issues of Union County investigating itself.

Nov 202013

Speakers: Rob Jackson, Jill Wagner, Victoria Liccione, Claudia Zapka, Denise Starnes, Kim Ormiston and Beth Bowker.

* Due to video length issues, a number of speakers were not included, this in no way diminishes their contribution.

Speaker: School Board Member: Kevin Stewart

Parents and teachers were out in force again at last Monday’s Commissioners meeting, as speaker after speaker addressed the $91M judgement, the accumulating interest costs and urged the defiant Commissioners to withdraw the Boards appeal of the jury award.