HAPPY NEW YEAR!
IN MY OPINION –
Welcome 2019 and for the citizens of Matthews, North Carolina we will be beginning our new year with our freedom of speech under attack. On December seventh and eighth of 2018 the Town Council held a special meeting. During the December 8, 2018 meeting Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners Jeff Miller, John Urban, Chris Melton, Kress Query and Barbara Dement all voted in support to silence the voice of the people. Why? As stated by Mayor Paul Bailey, “I don’t appreciate the behavior I’ve seen from some of our citizens in the past year that I’ve never seen before” with Commissioner Kress Query agreeing that “at some point in time the mayor needs to shut people down if necessary.”
In the Bill of Rights our founding fathers have addressed this issue. Amendment I – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. In the North Carolina State Constitution Article I Declaration of Rights Section 12 we “the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good” and “to instruct their representatives”. Section 14 states “Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained.”
IF there are any outrageous outbreaks during town meetings than yes it needs to be addressed, but this is not and has not been the case within Matthews Town meetings. There have been NO outburst only citizens bringing forth their concerns ‘grievances’ with issues of the Town and Council members and in these concerns there have been NO PERSONAL attacks. If Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners Jeff Miller, John Urban, Chris Melton, Kress Query and Barbara Dement are going to accuse the citizenry of “personal attacks” than shouldn’t there be evidence of this claim? Questioning the Council for their actions while serving the public is not a personal attack, it is our duty as citizens to confront and hold them accountable.
It was recently brought to light by a Matthews resident that the Red Brick Partnership of Matthews, which includes Commissioner John Urban as one of the founders, has received tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on an annual basis from Matthews and has claimed for years to be a non-profit but failed to file Form 1023 with the IRS to obtain it’s tax-exempt status thus leading to the request for Commissioner Urban to resign for misrepresentation of a non-profit. Our tax dollars are used to fund Red Brick so shouldn’t this be a concern by the Council? To bring this information forward is not a personal attack. Commissioner John Urban has also financially profited from the development of the Town of Matthews while serving as a commissioner. This a question of conflict of interest, not a personal attack.
Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Chris Melton, Kress Query and Barbara Dement were financially supported during the 2017 election by developer Garry Smith of Brookchase Properties who has a history in Matthews’ development and is also one of the founding members of Red Brick Partnership. This led citizens questioning if this could affect the vote on August 13, 2018 for the development of twelve new homes to be built along the Greenway entrance on Trade Street. This is a legitimate concern of favor, also known as pay to play, this is not a personal attack. Oh and yes, Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Kress Query, Jeff Miller and Barbara Dement supported the vote.
Mayor Paul Bailey has lied in using his Duke Energy email account for town business as did Commissioner Kress Query for using his private email account for town business. So for these two partners in crime to even discuss how they do not appreciate the behavior of citizens is a joke. These emails are public record and to hold them accountable is not a personal attack.
The decision to silence the people is not because of personal attacks. This decision to silence the people by Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Jeff Miller, Kress Query, Chris Melton and Barbara Dement is because the eyes of the citizenry are being opened and they are seeing the favors, unethical behavior, frivolous spending, misuse of tax dollars, pay to play by this Town Council and have decided that enough is enough by peacefully bringing these matters to their attention.
We the people have the right to “freedom of speech” and “to petition the Government for a redress of grievance”. Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioner Jeff Miller, John Urban, Chris Melton, Kress Query and Barbara Dement are public servants who have now decided to read an intimidating letter, to decide what is appropriate or inappropriate for a citizen to say and no one will be allowed to address citizens attending public meetings they can only address the council. So to my understanding of the Bill of Rights Amendment One and the North Carolina State Constitution Section 14, this is a violation of our Freedom of Speech. The Town Hall is a public building, bought and paid for by the citizens of Matthews.
You will also see in the draft notes it is noted that Commissioner Jeff Miller stated “I don’t mind the criticism a bit, but speaking for my neighbor who recommended that John Urban resign, he was an idiot and it reflected more on him than anything else. The criticisms against commissioner Urban from my neighbor were wrong.” Interesting how Commissioner Miller can call his neighbor, citizen, taxpayer, voter an “idiot” and all is okay, but when genuine issues are presented to the Council by citizens which are backed by facts this Council screams they are being personally attacked.
December 8, 2018 Ethics notes initials are only listed in notes, here is the listing – PB * Mayor Paul Bailey – Commissioners – JH * John Higdon JM * Jeff Miller JU * John Urban CM * Chris Melton KQ * Kress Query BD * Barbara Dement CB * Town Attorney Charles Buckley HB * Town Manager Hazen Blodgett
You may have noticed that Mayor Pro- Tem John Higdon has not been mentioned in this posting. That is because he was the only person on Matthews Town Council to have a backbone in standing up and saying this is wrong. Thank you Mayor Pro- Tem John Higdon for your support of the people.
Please remember to support MATTHEWS WATCH by telling your friends and neighbors. Thank you and Happy New Year! Gina Hoover