LEED PAC Response to Commissioners Forum (Letter to the Editor)

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The Lee Education and Economic Development IE Expenditure PAC (LEED PAC) would like to urge voters to make an informed vote this election cycle. Our Forum was confirmed by the candidates a month in advance. By inviting the members of Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of 100 it was designed to inform the business community and the overall taxpayers, both Republican and Democrat, as to how County Commissioner Candidates will perform and react to real life questions and decisions that they will face in office the next four years.  Our questions ranged from hypothetical to current issues. Such as what will you do if a large manufacturer wants to locate here bringing 350 jobs and asking for tax abatements to what is your stance on the Evergreen Solutions report that recommends redistributing the tax burden from the County to the City?  These were fair but direct questions.

In response to the come and then leave behavior of Mr Dolan, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Del Palazzo we want the public to know that the questions posed at our Forum was a good representation of what our Commissioners may face if elected this term.  Is the response by leaving without addressing the voters at our forum representative of how you plan to face these issues if elected? Will you not show up to the discussion if it is a matter that affects property taxes, sales taxes, job creation, job retention, or infrastructure development?  Will you excuse yourself from discussion on teacher salaries, school funding, or education policy? Or is it your hope to avoid answering the questions that ultimately may shape our future until after you are hopefully elected? Will your response on most matters just simply be “my way or the highway”?  What would our County look like if past boards took a duck and dive stance on our Water System in the 60’s or the Airport Decision more recently? These are all decisions that have now been applauded county wide and brought huge returns on investment to our County over time. They made us competitive statewide. These decisions required investment and forward vision but were politically unpopular at the time the vote was taken.  We cannot be confident that these three mentioned candidates would be able to make these types of decisions today.   

Mr. Kirk Smith commented in the Sanford Herald that the questions were the LEED PAC’s agenda and not the taxpayers.  It should be noted that the members of LEED PAC area cross section of the largest taxpayers and both small and large businesses in Lee County. Furthermore, these same members are the very people and businesses that countless people and organizations go to time and again for charitable donations or for help with civic projects and community needs. They continue to answer the call. These people deserve your attention during an election cycle.  It would seem good politics, if not simply good manners, to regret ahead of time if unable to attend.  The room was packed (over 75) with business and community leaders who chose to invest their time in hearing what all the Commissioner Candidates had to say to say only to learn that you had a potential campaign donation to collect. Is money really more important that meeting your previous commitment to inform the Lee County Voter? These same people will hold you accountable on a daily basis if you are elected and fail them. LEED PAC expects good sound leadership and forward thinking. We expect compromise over conflict and results today over posturing for political party or ideology.  We think these three candidates behavior is a predictor of future actions if elected commissioner.

Chet Mann

On behalf of LEED IE PAC

Councilman Gaskins addresses the Womack Tax

A local political blogger (Keith Clark) took this excerpt from the most recent City Council meeting and created a YouTube video.  Oddly enough, the blogger is a Republican who supports the City’s side of the argument over the three “Republican” members of the County Commissioners who are trying to redistribute the sales tax revenue to a much larger share for the County.  He clipped just the one set of comments.  I hope that this short segment will help you understand our position on the matter.  The “Republicans” are actually the new Tea Party reactionaries who seem to have come out of nowhere to become political activists and bear little resemblance to the Republicans who care about our community. 

Jim Womack | Oct 12, 2011

Download a pdf of the email here

All;

For those of you not having the opportunity to witness the latest incentives debacle tonight, let me just say it wasn’t pretty.  However, it should be well worth watching when it comes out on video streaming from the county website in a couple of days.

Tonight’s vote was an expedited action to give $38,000 of your tax dollars to Zurn who was bringing those people here anyway, having already acquired the building they plan to use and having announced earlier today they were closing their plant in NY.  As Obama is so fond of saying, the commissioners voted to “spread the wealth around a little.”

Most disappointing was John Crumpton, who strongly endorsed the Zurn incentive knowing it falls well short of being an enforceable contract and knowing it is insufficient in meeting UNC School of Government recommendations based on case law.  I question why we send the manager to school at taxpayer expense when he can’t apply what he learns there in practice!   (Perhaps he was too distracted moving his family back to Laurinburg and taking care of personal business there to absorb what was going on in class.)

I am also disillusioned with retiring and ineffective attorney Dick Hoyle who continues to miss key points in applying legal precedent and rendering advice to the BOC.  He is only surpassed by liberal incompetent attorney-in-waiting Dale Talbert, who continues to pursue activist concerns (like trying to get Charlie and me to stop praying to Jesus in our invocations), rather than doing his homework with the SOG in getting our incentives policy tightened up.

Tonight my disgust went center stage and I told these officials how disappointed I was in their poor advice and endorsements.  I told Donnie Oldham (EDC Chairman) at the conclusion of the meeting I will stop at nothing short of disbanding his EDC good old boy’s club by Dec ember 2012, suggesting he should enjoy his short 14 months of remaining tenure.  Over the weak objections of Richard Hayes and Robert Reives I told the BOC what we were doing tonight was illegal in every sense and I demanded special indemnification from any recourse in possible future lawsuits.

We have Reives now caving at every step of the EDC reform process.  He has all but given Heuts back what we worked so hard to remove back in June.  Wouldn’t it be nice if someone were to bring a set of flip flops, labeled EDC Policy, to hang on the front of the podium at next Monday’s BOC meeting asking if the slippers might fit any of the sitting commissioners.  I believe Reives would get the message.

With the tide clearly turning away from fiscal conservatism, I sense there are but three actions left to take:  (1) Deny Crumpton any more authority fighting his plans to take charge of the Community Development group and the funds we send to the city (as he cannot be trusted with more responsibility); (2) Support the effort of any local firms who wish to seek $1000 for hiring new people, forcing a vote on each and every one of these new hires as being a uniform application of what we’ve already done for JMC and Zurn; and (3)  make sure the Evergreen auditor is armed with all the ammo we have to produce findings that the County is inconsistent and ineffective in its incentives policies and inappropriately  applying state law to our incentives contracts.

I would dearly enjoy seeing some company sue the county (on principle) for our stupid and inconsistent economic development policies and practices.

If things continue to devolve as they are at present, I plan to withdraw from the EDC Board of Directors and concentrate my energy on the upcoming audit and on recruiting conservatives to run for office and then getting them elected next spring and fall.    Clearly we have lost this near-term battle over economic growth in Lee County.  Best to let the power brokers languish in their ignorance and simply vote against everything they are trying to do.

One thing’s for sure.  We simply MUST get Kirk Smith, Ronnie Turner, and one other prospect through the spring primary and swept into office as commissioners on the heels of a national referendum next fall.  When we seat our fourth, fifth and perhaps a sixth conservative vote on the BOC, I am hopeful we will have the resolve to send Crumpton packing, right along with our incompetent attorney and Bob Heuts.  I would suggest 2-3 week’s notice and a Christmas pink slip

would be more than appropriate for all of them!  All have successfully demonstrated their inability to perform to a professional standard.

I told Crumpton earlier this week he should recognize I am a Cavalry officer with a 20-year career on tanks.  I learned to destroy things in three ways (at long range) with my 120mm main gun; (at close range) with my 7.62 and .50 cal. machineguns, and (most violently) with the tank tracks from these 60-ton beasts.  Right now, I am looking for something to run over!

Jim