Up & Coming Weekly

June 04, 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 15 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JUNE 5-11, 2019 UCW 15 Featuring the works of Michelle Bir's Featuring the works of Michelle Bir's 208 Rowan St. | Corporate Offices of A FREE public event Refreshments & door prizes! For more information: 910.484.6200 presents Gallery 208 June 18, 2019 • 5:30 - 7PM The Art of Possibility: Three Artists Explore Printmaking Pronto Plate Print by Angela Stout Relief Print by Maria Anglero Pronto Plate Print by Jade Robin Warner said her major problem in working with the current board has been that some of them don't seem to understand the relationship between the mayor and the commissioners and the different roles they fill. "It's not be- cause it's an 'I' thing with me," Warner said. "Nine times out of 10, if televi- sion, radio, newspaper or anybody comes, they're going to call the mayor. at's just what happens." Warner's parting words just before adjournment were from the heart, she said. "I don't do anything without thinking first — is it right? Is it ethical? "I don't like the idea of my integ- rity and my character being judged. What you do sometimes in politics, it does hurt. But you do have to move forward. As mayor of Hope Mills, I try every day to make sure I represent Hope Mills the very best I can.'' Warner said she does appreciate the current board and is doing her best to learn to work with each of them. "I hope we can move forward,'' she said. She then called on the Hope Mills community to end negative com- ments on social media. "We need your support now,'' she said. "We don't need to be torn apart anymore.'' What's next? by Elizabeth Blevins Commissioner Jerry Legge was quick to accept Cauley's presenta- tion and said, "I think the lesson we've learned is we just need to move forward … and we need to do what's best for this town." His sentiment was echoed by Commissioner Jessie Bellflowers and by the mayor. But Larson and Mayor pro tem Mitchell bombarded Cauley with questions and reiterated old accusa- tions. Later that evening, Mitchell used social media to cast doubt on the integrity of the investigation, posting, "When ethics are no longer black and white but gray what will become of our beloved town?" By the next morning, the situation had turned ugly. Mitchell blocked Sue Moody, a citizen of Hope Mills and Mitchell's neighbor, from posting on his official Facebook page. e North Carolina State Supreme Court ruled in January 2019 it is unconstitutional for an elected official to block members of the general public from comment- ing on their social media accounts. Moody, who attended the May 29 meeting, isn't hopeful Mitchell or Larson can learn from the situation and move forward. Of their behavior at the meeting, Moody said, "e first question was challenging the investigator, simply to put into public record, again, the accusations when they'd already been addressed. ey were defensive and aggressive; there was no spirit of working together for the good of the people. You can tell they both have their own agendas." e board has made a habit of spending an exorbitant amount of money on surveys, investigations and studies, only to discover they don't like the results rendered. ey follow up by discrediting the experts and the processes to invalidate those results, leaving them free to deviate in which- ever directions they want to go. For those following this investiga- tion, it wasn't a surprise when the mayor and her staff were exonerated. Nor was it a surprise when Mitchell and Larson refused to accept the results of the investigation. Several members of the board need to issue apologies to a very long list of people and organizations. Larson has publicly referred to the offer by LSF as the "LSF ordeal" on two separate occasions in the past month. She was also part of a conver- sation in which it was alleged the may- or's son was offered bribes to facilitate the sale of municipal land to LSF. She and Mitchell have consistently used social media and their elected posi- tions as a pulpit from which to judge and condemn the mayor and her fam- ily, and they've spent the better part of their tenure rewriting longstanding rules of procedure to strip the mayor of all authority. ey owe apologies to Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic De- velopment Corporation President and CEO Robert Van Geons and his staff, to the Hope Mills staff at Town Hall and to members of the local media. Finally, the commissioners owe an apology to the people of Hope Mills. After 18 months of reminding us it's their sworn duty to be good stewards of our assets, it was difficult to watch them toss $26,000 toward an investi- gation based on fabricated allegations. And in the days that followed, they and their small group of supporters added insult to injury when they un- dermined Cauley and his investigation to justify their own bad behavior. Despite the investigation, which had just cleared Warner of any wrongdoing, Mitchell and Larson chose to continue a one-sided feud. Fortunately, the voters of Hope Mills will render a final decision on this issue in November. JEFF THOMPSON, Reporter. EARL VAUGHAN JR., Senior Staff Writer. ELIZABETH BLEVINS, Founder of HopeMills.net. COM- MENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200.

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