This is in response to Dare County Commissioner Jack Shea’s commentary sent to area media recently.
Shea, a Republican, noted that Americans don’t
have much faith in Congress and that is the only point on which we can
agree. The Republican majority has spent more time stone walling
efforts to pass meaningful legislation and twitting sound bites than it
has doing its job.
The same is true about our state government. The
General Assembly has continuously introduced legislation forwarded to
it by the Koch brother’s American Legislative Exchange instead of
looking out for the best interests of its constituency.
Touting the successes of the current board of
commissioners, Shea listed a number of accomplishments that the current
GOP-majority board are trying to hang their hats on because three of
them are running for office – two seeking to retain their seats on the
board and Commissioner Beverly Boswell is seeking a seat in the state
House of Representatives.
The commission has a long history of holding Town
Hall meetings to gather input on topics that are important to its
constituents. Because there is a diverse constituency in Dare County,
many have been pleased at the results. Some were not.
Budget meetings, just as all meetings of a quorum
of the board, are required to be open to the public so that isn’t a
different way of doing business. In fact, it is the only legal way to
hammer out the budget.
Standing against the proposed sales tax
redistribution was a good thing, but it is unimaginable that any
commission, no matter who was in charge at the moment, would have done
Dredging Oregon and Hatteras inlets is crucial to
the safety of our mariners and the economic well-being of our region,
but to say that maintaining Hatteras Inlet was an afterthought is an
understatement. And the funding sources to provide continual matching
funds needed going forward weren't the best choices. There is still no
realistic long-term funding sources for these, and there are still
issues with Hatteras Inlet.
Adding confusion to the process was Sen. Bill
Cook's constant attempts to ignore the best interests of Dare County
while apparently listening to only one commissioner – Beverly Boswell –
a newcomer who doesn't seem to understand that the Board of
Commissioners is supposed to represent the best interests of Dare
County, not ideology. Her recent statement that state actions that
impact the county aren't any business of the board is mind-boggling and
not a good indication of what her attitude will be if elected to the
Working together with the towns to combine
resources has been going on for several years and is not a result of
any actions taken by the current board.
Law enforcement agencies combining resources and
building inspectors helping out in the towns has saved money. This
began before the current majority was in power. The creation of the
Consolidation Committee was presented in such a manner that it was
perceived to be a demand that the towns come to the table. The attempt
was awkward at best.
There still isn't an approved economic
diversification plan, and it is with skepticism that we await the
product that is being produced. There are some very smart and
business-savvy people in Dare County and it is puzzling why the board
felt that contracting outside the county would be more productive.
Before you toot your horn on that one, better wait to see what they put
on the table because so far, it has just been razzle-dazzle.
Patting the board on the back for providing the
$400,000 for teachers' salaries is not an accomplishment; it is living
up to a commitment to match state raises for the teachers whom the
Gains made in putting more money back into the
general fund have been made by short-changing the county employees in
their salaries, benefits and insurance. County employees have less
spendable income now than they did six years ago because of lack of
raises, incredibly increased health insurance costs, and reductions in
To claim that the increase in the fund was done
without raising taxes is not true. There is not a fee – another word
for tax – that hasn't been raised over the past two years. Seniors
needing transportation to medical appointments, parents trying to keep
their children involved in activities offered by Parks and Recreation
-- all pay more for the services, which has meant that many can no
longer afford those services.
To say that this board has functioned well is to ignore the realities and the impacts of many of its decisions.
Leave electioneering to the candidates on their
own time, not by the board during meetings and under its auspices. Let
those running stand on their own records which are slim at best so any
fall won't be far.
(Fountain Odom of Manteo is chairman Dare County Democratic Party and a former state senator.)