In my opinion –
Below is a “SMALL” list of past and current issues within the Town of Matthews. There were so many to choose from, in effort to keep posting short these are the few I chose. As you read ask yourself, Is there Corruption? Are there Ethics and Moral violations?
FACT – According to a report by WBTV there are current elected officials who have violated campaign filing requirements. For Matthews, Commissioner Barbara Dement is listed and I question if we have a Commissioner who cannot follow the laws as required, than how can citizens of Matthews trust her to make decisions for the town?
FACT – Before Mayor Paul Bailey was elected as mayor of Matthews he served on the CMS School Board. While serving he posted a very questionable posting on his Facebook page which lead to an apology for his very hateful action.
FACT – On December 7 & 8 2018 the Town Board held a special mini conference. During the ethics discussion it was discussed to read a statement that many feel could quash the voice of the citizens. Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Jeff Miller, Kress Query, Chris Melton and Barbara Dement were all in support. Mayor Pro Tem John Higdon was the only one in opposition. The reason for this statement was because Gordon Clemmons of Matthews had discovered that Red Brick Partnership of Matthews had failed to turn in IRS paperwork for nearly two years which was claiming to be a non-profit and during a Board of Commissioners meeting asked Commissioner John Urban who is co-chair of Red Brick to step down. During the mini conference this sparked Commissioner Jeff Miller to state “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.” Well, according to WSOC Mr. Clemmons was spot on and there has been no public apology from Commissioner Jeff Miller. If you were to read the approved Planning Conference minutes on the Town’s web-site you would not see Commissioner Jeff Miller’s remark, it has been deleted from public record.
FACT – On July 22, 2019 the Town Board approved an 11 percent salary increase for Town Manager Hazen Blodgett bringing his salary from $147,400.00 to $163,780.00. This was his largest increase ever since employment. Mr. Blodgett also receives a $85.00 monthly cell phone allowance. Since his employment with the Town of Matthews he has received a $350.00 monthly car allowance which is to cover his travels for the CCOG (Centralina Council of Governments). According to Mr. Blodgett, via email response, his “guess” for his travels are “one time per week to once every ten days I travel to somewhere in the CCOG area.” and he does “not keep any records” of his travels. This is a total of $70,350.00 of taxpayer funds when there are town owned cars that Mr. Blodgett can use for his travels to the CCOG. As for his cell phone allowance, why $85.00? My bill is only $35.00 a month which includes unlimited talk and text. What did the citizens of Matthews get this year? A tax increase. This is another example of the misuse of taxpayer funds.
FACT – January 2019 the Town received bids for Mayor Paul Bailey’s – State of the Town – video. The Town is not required to solicit bids or proposals but it was decided to do so. There were three bidders. Still Memories Photography/videography $975.00, Steve Huff Media $2,000.00 and Professional Communications $4,000.00 – 4,800.00. Now it’s obvious that Professional Communication was not chosen, just a little too high. So now this leaves, Still Memories and Steve Huff Media for consideration. The final decision to hire a videographer was by Town Manager Hazen Blodgett. He chose Steve Huff Media stating because of Mr. Huff’s experience, array of equipment and stock footage of Matthews made him the best choice. Now I could be wrong, just guessing here, but being that Still Memories is in the “business” wouldn’t they have equipment as well? According to Town Clerk Lori Canapinno the video proposal presented by Steve Huff Media ” is the only one that exists” with the town. Meaning, Steve Huff Media has never submitted a bid with the town before. Mr. Huff who has posting and pictures claiming he is in a relationship with Commissioner Barbara Dement which is fine, but I think this would cause anyone to question, could this be the true reason Steve Huff Media was granted the contract?
FACT – I think we all are aware of Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners, Chris Melton, Kress Query, John Urban and Barbara Dement accepting $500.00 campaign donation from Garry Smith of Brookchase. In a article Mayor Paul Bailey stated “Well, I think we get money from developers because they want to have a seat at the table.” So the question is, did this donation help sway the vote to approve the development for 13 homes along Trade Street? What I think is important to understand, is that, this is nothing new in Matthews. It’s no secret that developers have been pretty chummy with town staff and council members for quiet awhile. In 2017 Town Manager Hazen Blodgett sent town staff an email stating, “Everyone – Lat Purser dropped this by my office today. What are your thoughts?” It seems developers are running the show and when their needs are more important than the citizens of Matthews, THERE IS A PROBLEM. The $500.00 donation is not about developers wanting a seat at the table. Developers own the table and by Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Chris Melton, Kress Query and Barbara Dement accepting this donation, this bought them a ‘seat’ at the table.
By-the-way Candidate Allen Crosby, who lives at home with his mother and father, has accepted a campaign donation of $500.00 from developer Garry Smith. Note – to see donations from Garry Smith click on link below and scroll down to Receipts.
FACT – In 2009 a resident of Matthews was going to file a complaint. Matthews Town Attorney Charles Buckley had learned of this and then instructed former Police Chief Ronnie Morris to keep her from entering Matthews Town Hall. The Town Hall is a public building, bought and paid for by the citizens of Matthews. In my opinion, her Constitutional rights were violated. This past June Mr. Buckley’s contract was up for approval by the Town Board. The Town Board was again provided documentation but instead of holding Mr. Buckley accountable his contract was renewed and his hourly pay was increased from $205.00 per hour to $225.00 per hour. Furthermore, according to Town Manager Hazen Blodgett, Town Attorney Charles Buckley is not required to submit ‘itemized’ billings to the town for payment. Really?
FACT – When a Board member uses his/her private or work email account for Town business this then becomes public record. Mayor Paul Bailey has used his work email account for Town business but I made a public records request he denied using his Duke Energy email account stating “I do not conduct any business other than Duke Energy business on my Duke email account. It is a violation of company policy and the law for me to do such. I will be immediately reporting this request to the Duke Energy Legal Department and Human Resources for their review and any further action.” Commissioner Kress Query is also guilty of denying the use of his private email account for town business. Commissioner Jeff Miller and John Urban are also guilty in using their work email accounts. According to Commissioner Jeff Miller, because he is no longer employed by Family Dollar he is unable to retrieve emails. Why has no one been held accountable?
FACT – Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners Jeff Miller, John Urban and Kress Query all supported the vote to condemn property for the “well-connected” of Matthews as stated by Judge Bridges of Mecklenburg County Superior Court. This was reaffirmed by Judge Hunter of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The Town claimed the condemnation was for the opening, widening, extending or improving roads, streets, alleys, and sidewalks, and being more particularly described as Home Place. Which was proven not true in court and stated by Town Manager Hazen Blodgett within his deposition. A public records request was made by Mrs. Wright for documents showing cost of this bogus condemnation, instead of just complying Mayor Paul Bailey responded with “Woman who live in glass house should not throw rocks.” One, Mayor Paul Bailey needs to remember that Mr. & Mrs. Wright were the defendants and Two, this is public record Mrs. Wright had every right to request.
FACT – The Town of Matthews continues to claim that Home Place is a public road, excluding the Wrights property, and is currently collecting Powell Bill funds for this road. If Home Place is a public road as Matthews continues to claim than the right-of-way would be town property because the town would own fee simple center of Home Place. Than why would CMUD need to purchase a water and sewer easement from property owners along Home Place? According to Matthews this is a town owned road. Also, a section of Home Place which is past the Wrights property the Town only has an easement and can be revoked by a thirty day notice. Documentation proves Home Place is a private road and yet the town is filing with the State of North Carolina and NCDOT to receive Powell Bill funds. Powell Bill funds can only be received for Town owned roads. The current Board members have been made aware of this and still have done nothing to correct this issue. Why?
TECHNOLOGY ALLOWANCE POLICY – On November 28, 2005 the Town Board approved the Technology Allowance Policy. There were several options on how to fund this policy. One option was to provide a start-up cost of $2,500.00 for the first year, per council member per term, then add $1,000.00 after that. After the fifth year it was decided it would need to be updated. The second option was a lump sum of $3,500.00 per board member per term, which is a total of $24,500.00 and would cover the cost of any technology related hardware, software or supplies. If there were any unused funds by the Mayor or Commissioners funds could be deferred to another Board member if they both agreed. The second option was approved with a unanimous vote, this vote included Mayor Paul Bailey. Though the cost of computers are going down, during the Planning Conference held in February 2016 it was decided by the current Board to increase the TA allowance by $100.00 which took affect on July 1, 2016. This is a total of $$25,200.00 of taxpayer funds being allocated for Board members.
What is not being disclosed is that every item purchased by a Board member becomes their personal property. Commissioner Kress Query has decided not to run for re-election and will be walking away with an Apple i-Pad $664.94, Apple iPhone $749.99 with a $40.00 upgrade, costing the citizens $1,45716. Mayor Paul Bailey purchased a $1,199.99 Lenovo Yoga 720 with a $69.99 Bamboo Ink Smart Stylus, total $1,362.05. Commissioner Barbara Dement purchased a $899.99 Microsoft Surface Pro, total $965.24. I wonder how many children in Matthews have a need for a computer for school? The best example I can provide is Commissioner Chris Melton. In 2014 he purchased a iPad Air $629.99 then in 2015 MacBook Air $854.99 and this was his first term. He was re-elected in 2015 and purchased a MacBook Pro for a whopping $1,499.00. How many computers does one Commissioner need? Unfortunately we do not know the current spending of the Board members. Due to 2019 being an election year they will probably wait to submit their receipts until after the election. Better to keep from public eye while running for office. The Technology Allowance is a waste and an abuse of taxpayer funds.
ANNUAL PLANNING CONFERENCE – Every year in February the Board holds it annual Planning Conference. This is a three day event that runs Friday through Sunday. There have been times when the conference has begun on a Thursday. The Planning Conference is a public meeting but adjourns around 2 – 2:30 on Friday so that Board members and Town staff can head to Ocean Isle Beach. The argument from current and past Board members is that no one really attends so whats wrong with traveling to the beach? By holding the planning conference out of town this would increase productivity. If the conference was held in town this could make it harder for commissioners to stay focused. Really? This is a public meeting and should be held at the Town Hall whether anyone attends or not. In 2018 the Planning Conference cost the citizens of Matthews $6,535.57 for the rental of Splash Kingdom and food. For a two night stay at Splash Kingdom, the rental of choice, along cost Matthews residents $3,918.00. With our Town Attorney in attendance his fee’s are $205.00 per hour @ 29 hours = $5,945.00 bringing total to $12,480.57 of taxpayer funds.
FACT – On March 3, 2005 the Town of Matthews Board members voted to condemn a WWII Veteran Neubert Purser’s farm for a park. During the condemnation Mayor Paul Bailey stated this would “kill” Mr. Purser and yet voted in support. The condemnation was noted as “win, win” for the town. The Town has denied the condemnation but documentation shows other wise. It has been six years now since Mr. Purser’s passing. WE STILL HAVE NO PARK!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF MATTHEWS WATCH. Gina Hoover