Up & Coming Weekly

April 02, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 36

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 3-9, 2019 UCW 5 What follows in italics is the kind of information you will only get in this publication and on Hopemi- lls.net. Both are free with open access to the public. We recommend you subscribe to both. e special meeting was held March 25 on the pre- tense of finding out what happened to the art sculptures and why they were being removed and to discuss Earl Vaughan Jr.'s March 20 article in Up & Coming Weekly. Not true. e real purpose was to present a resolution of "No Confidence" on Warner. e board had no intention of hearing the truth about the matter. If they wanted the truth, they would have invited and/or spoken with Walls, the UNC-P professor who was interviewed for the article; Up & Coming Weekly writer Earl Vaughan Jr., the author of the article; HopeMills.net author Elizabeth Blevins; and me (Bowman), the owner and publisher of Up & Coming Weekly. None of us were invited to attend the special meeting nor reached out to for clarification and productive discussion. However, I showed up and sat there, in the second row, while they slandered me and questioned the integrity of my newspaper. I sat quietly through the barrage of insults and accusations, thinking that they would eventually call on me to respond to the charges and accusations. ey did not. ey ignored me — as well as the truth. Bellflowers read out loud a paragraph that was said to be from our "deplorable" article. But, inter- estingly enough, you won't be able to find the things he read aloud anywhere in the actual article that was published. Next, Legge read a resolution obviously composed by Mitchell and Larson. It was a collection of inac- curate statements and proof that the board members had no interest in learning the truth — only in plac- ing blame. Mitchell, Larson, Legge and Bellflowers voted for the resolution. Edwards voted against it. Here is their resolution. It puts on full display how the board is spending its time rather than securing our art, taking care of the Hope Mills Lake projects, securing commerce and creating economic vitality for Hope Mills — think back to the Lone Survivor Foundation situation. 1 - Whereas the Hope Mills Town Board appre- ciates and supports the cultural arts within our community. Not true. e very board members who voted for this resolution were so uninterested in the single example of art in Hope Mills that they didn't even notice as it disappeared. Less than two weeks ago, Community Develop- ment Planner Chancer McLaughlin requested that the board provide a letter of approval to include in an art grants application. He explained the letter wasn't required but would be appreciated. e board grilled him for more than 20 minutes before reluc- tantly agreeing to produce the letter. 2 - Whereas the Hope Mills Town Board believes it is important for elected officials to act in an honest, ethical and transparent manner for the citizens we serve. Not true. Mitchell has a longstanding habit of posting questionable comments on his social media. He's violated the constitutional rights of Hope Mills citizens who spoke against him by blocking them from his social media accounts, and he sent an email to the town manager indicating he didn't want any member of the staff or the Board of Commissioners to attend a political rally. It's illegal to prevent members of the staff from at- tending political events. 3 - Whereas it is important for our citizens to trust information that is shared by our town leaders. Trust is important, but the commissioners are not conducting themselves in a way that earns this trust. As one example, Larson continues to share the PWC surveys, which PWC Chief Operations Officer Mick Noland condemned as outdated and irrelevant in July 2018. 4 - Whereas it is important for the elected to work together and share information that is im- portant to the smooth operation of the town. is is true, but there isn't a single example of Lar- son, Legge or Mitchell having done this. 5 - Whereas Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner had knowledge of the time sensitive deadline of the Art in the Park agreement with a local univer- sity and did not immediately direct the matter to the town manager, who is responsible for the daily operations of the town. Not true. e emails provided by the commission- ers prove Warner contacted Town Manager Melissa Adams Aug. 22, 2018, the very day the UNC-P profes- sor contacted her regarding the contract. 6 - Whereas Mayor Jackie Warner knowingly withheld the information concerning the time sensitive deadline of the Art in the Park agree- ment from the board of commissioners. Not true. Every member of this board was pres- ent March 19, 2018, and again May 21, 2018, when the sculptures — and specifically, the deadline for renewing the sculptures — were discussed. is in- formation is annotated in the official minutes from those meetings. 7 - Whereas Mayor Jackie Warner shared infor- mation about the art in the park agreement with the reporter from a local publication without ever bringing the matter before the board. Not true. e responsibility of keeping the board updated on current issues belongs to the staff — not the mayor. Warner and the staff were searching for solutions to the problem; the board was not. 8 - Whereas the resulting article from the information shared by Mayor Jackie Warner cast aspersions upon our community and board and was unsettling to a local university, a resident and his students. Not true. e article did not harm the professor, the university or the students. ere was one com- ment in the article that casts doubt on the integrity of the board. It presented the opinion of a citizen — who is 100 percent entitled to his opinion. And while members of the board have reached out to him and claim he never made the comment, article author Earl Vaughan Jr. and Up & Coming Weekly stand by the integrity of the interview and the article. 9 - Whereas March 19, 2019, Mayor Jackie Warner shared the article to her official Mayor of Hope Mills Facebook page without any clarifica- tion to the readers. True. However, if this justifies a censure, then Mitch- ell and Larson should be censured as well. ey've both made a habit of sharing articles that are embar- rassing to the town — and specifically to Warner — from another publication. In fact, Mitchell shared an article of questionable content March 27, two days after censuring the mayor for doing the same. 10 - Whereas Mayor Jackie Warner has shown a pattern of withholding information from her fellow board members and knowingly sharing misinformation through both social media and in public forum. Not true. is is a thinly veiled reference to Lar- son's belief that Warner was privy to more informa- tion about an offer from Lone Survivor Foundation than Warner shared with the board. Warner has clarified her responses to their inqui- ries for 10 months, and the board is funding a formal investigation into the situation. e investigator has not returned his findings, so it's premature to levy this accusation against the mayor. 11 - Whereas Mayor Jackie Warner has been coun- seled numerous times about such behavior as it misleads the public and is an abuse of her position. Not true. is is another reference to Larson's misguided belief that Warner colluded with execu- tives of Lone Survivor Foundation. While Larson has attempted to counsel the mayor, it was an abuse of her position to do so. Be it resolved that Mayor Jackie Warner knew about the time sensitive deadline of the Art in the Park agreement. Mayor Warner failed to im- mediately inform the town manager and never informed the Board, which contributed in part to the loss in art. Not true. Warner knew about the time-sensitive deadline, as did the entire board. ey were officially notified on two separate occasions — and it's a matter of public record. She did immediately inform the town manager. is was established by the same commissioners who wrote the resolution when they provided the correspondence between the professor and staff members and the mayor. Be it resolved that the Hope Mills town Board of Commissioners casts a vote of No Confidence in Mayor Jackie Warner and her ability to effectively work with the elected Board to serve in the capac- ity as mayor of Hope Mills. It's ironic that while the commissioners were drafting this resolution to embarrass the mayor, she was actively seeking a solution to the Art in the Park dilemma. And while they failed to prove any of their points, she suc- ceeded in securing more art for our community. Up & Coming Weekly staff have repeatedly reached out to the Board of Commissioners and extended open invitations for them to comment, respond, clarify or rebut anything we print in our publication. To date, no one has taken us up on that offer. When Mitchell was asked to comment on a Hope Mills issue, he said he was "too busy." Larson, when asked to comment on a local Hope Mills community event, responded with "I don't participate with the Up & Coming Weekly." I again extend the invitation to Commissioners Mitchell, Larson, Legge, Bellflowers, Edwards and Mayor Jackie Warner. Just remember, at Up & Coming Weekly communi- ty newspaper, if you write it, you own it. at is why our name and photos are on every article. Elizabeth Blevins and I thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly. BILL BOWMAN, Publisher, UP & COMING WEEKLY. COMMENTS? BILL@upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. ELIZABETH BLEVINS, Up & Coming Weekly Correspondent and founder of HopeMills.net.

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