NEW TOWN COUNCIL

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  It’s 2018 and the Town of Matthews is starting this year off with a new town council.    

In my opinion  –    

I have heard a lot of disappointment with the election results. I think is very important to understand that the establishment runs deep in this town so the election is more about keeping power.  There are people/developers with their connections and certain last names whose interests need to be protected.  A lot of money is to be made by future development which can include current commissioners and their family members.  God forbid that a newcomer who is NOT part of the establishment be elected.  He or she may actually care for the citizens of Matthews and know the difference between right and wrong.  During the forum held at the Levine Center and after Paul Bailey’s rude announcement of who he was endorsing, I was told by a commissioner that he wished everyone could run as an individual.    Instead of standing strong as an individual candidate on their own two feet Paul Bailey, Kress Query, Chris Melton, John Urban and Barbara Dement pulled together and formed their little group.  Our mailboxes were constantly stuffed with their flyers of promises.  Let’s not forget the big one included “Preserve Matthews”.  

We have been told many times our former mayor James P. Taylor decided not to run so that he may spend more time with his family.  I guess the eleven thousand four hundred eleven emails (11,411) that show he was doing his mayoral duties while being paid by Wells Fargo did not factor in on this decision.  Is it not amazing how politicians believe that citizens are stupid?  I was sent a copy of an article that was posted in our so-called local community newspaper where former mayor Jim Taylor stated “I never missed a band recital, soccer game or anything. I’m very happy about that.”   Laughing I thought,  yea because he was doing his work as mayor while being paid by Wells Fargo and receiving a pay check from the citizens of Matthews.   Anyway, Paul Bailey won the vote for mayor by 59.37 percent. He received 2,472 votes with Larry Whitley receiving 1,658 and there were 34 write-in’s.  Unfortunately he is starting off by being dishonest with using his private and work email account.  He clearly denied using his Duke Energy account for town business when documentation proves that in fact he did.  This is public record and property of the people and if he is willing to be dishonest over his emails what else will be on the dishonest list?  In my view this is a issue of character and dishonesty is not a virture in the Eagle Scout handbook.  When Mr. Bailey served as commissioner he voted to condemn the farm of WWII Veteran Nerbert Purser and the property of Mr. & Mrs. Wright for well-connected individuals of the town.  In 2015 the town was ordered by the court to pay the Wrights $74,570.00 for their attorney’s fees for 2015.  In all the town spent approximately $300,000.00 in pursuing Town of Matthews v. Wright, your tax dollars at work.  I have been told there is a video of him brushing off a concerned parent during a CMS meeting.  I am unable to locate but if anyone has or knows how to find it could you send the info.  Many Thanks!  

Jeff Miller, Chris Melton, John Urban and John Higdon were re-elected as Town Commissioners.  Kress Query has served as commissioner in the past and Barbara Dement will be serving her first term as commissioner.  The people have spoken and once again elected John Higdon for Mayor Pro Tem and hopefully he has learned his lesson and will serve out his term.  You see in 2013 John Higdon was elected Mayor Pro Tem winning by one vote over Chris Melton.  In 2014 Higdon graciously handed the position to Chris Melton.  Why?  That is yet to be known but during this past election Chris Melton constantly boasted he was Mayor Pro Tem which lead to tempers flaring.  Jeff Miller and John Urban also supported the vote to condemn Mr. & Mrs. Wrights property.  Even one of the well-connected financially supported Mr. Urban during the election.  Kress Query supported the voted to condemn WWII Veteran farm Nebert Purser and the Wrights property.  One of the well-connected individuals included within this circle of deceit of the Wright case was once Mr. Query’s neighbor.     

Many of you know I am a BIG opponent in using taxpayer dollars for a trip to Ocean  Isle Beach which is labeled the Annual Planning Conference which will be coming up in February.  During the first Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting of the new town council on December 11, 2017 the Planning Conference was discussed and Kress Query feels the out-of-town meeting will increase productivity.  John Higdon noted a trip this year to the beach but not next February.  John Higdon also noted commissioners work 12 hour days which I found interesting because during the 2017 Planning Conference on Saturday February 25th while at Ocean Isle Beach this was the timeline as noted by Town Clerk Lori Canapinno.

8:00am – meeting started

9:45am – break

10:00am –  return from break

12:30pm –  lunch

1:45pm – return from lunch

3:00pm – break

4:10pm – return from break

5:50pm – meeting adjourned

Hmmmm, does this add to twelve hours?   I’ll get into this more during another posting.

I also found it interesting that during the BOC meeting Mr. Query mentioned a planning conference held at Chapel Hill and noted no one showed up.  I’m pretty sure citizens have to work to provide for their families and Mr. Query conveniently forgot to mention that the meeting cost the citizens of Matthews over $10,000.00.  As for attending the out-of-town portion will the town pay for all expenses incurred by anyone who decides to attend the meeting?  I’m willing to bet NOT!  Yet citizens are scolded by Kress Query and Chris Melton for not attending the meetings.  What’s wrong with that picture?  My question is, how can productivity be increased by going out-of-town? Would love for that to be explained but this is never addressed.  This is a public meeting funded by public funds and whether anyone attends or not it should be held in town.  I have had former commissioners state that after the meetings its dinner then drinking at the bar.  No, this is just another example and excuse to spend taxpayer dollars on themselves. One year a neighboring municipality held their meeting in Pineville at Outback Steakhouse.  Nice to know there is still responsible leadership somewhere for taxpayer funds, sadly it’s not here in Matthews.

HAVE A BLESSED AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  PLEASE SUPPORT MATTHEWS WATCH BY TELLING YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.                          

KNOW BEFORE YOU VOTE

Before you begin I wanted to take a moment and share that a Meet and Greet was held at Kress Query’s neighborhood.  Everyone attended except Demple Shah, Norah Burke and Sebastian Feculak.  Now you may be asking yourself, why not?  Well, easy answer.  They were not invited.  Citizens who live in Kress Query’s neighborhood were told all candidates were invited and would be attending while knowing this was not true.  Larry Whitley who is running for mayor was informed the Saturday night before the event on Sunday.  Thankfully he was able to make it.  Was this a ploy to discredit these candidates in effort to make citizens believe they did not care enough to attend?  Hmmm….I think so.  I have been asked who’s idea was this?  There is no way that I can answer that question, but if you have had enough of dirty politics by dirty politicians than it is not hard to know “who” is within the establishment here in Matthews.  Just pay attention to the candidates who flock together with their mailers and advertising, as the saying goes “birds of a feather flock together”.  But that’s just my opinion.        

On November 7th (we) the citizens of Matthews will be casting our vote once again for candidates that we feel will best represent the town and all citizens.  Running for Mayor is Larry Whitley who currently serves on the Board of Commissioners and Paul Bailey who has served in the past as Commissioner for nine terms.  The incumbents are Commissioners John Higdon, Jeff Miller and Chris Melton.  The newcomers on the block are Allen Crosby, Norah Burke, Dimple Shah, Sebastian Feculak and Barbara Dement and once again there is Kress Query who has served as commissioner.  

Along with questions submitted by citizens MATTHEWS WATCH presented each candidate with a set of questions.  In order to get a true idea of “who” we will be voting for questions have been tailored for the candidates, some questions are different due to his or her history with the Town.  Some have chosen to answer the questions while others did not.

Before we begin I feel it is important for you to know how a few issues past/present have been voted on and to also give you a glimpse of how your tax dollars are/have been spent.  I was very surprised to learn just how many citizens wanted to know more about the Technology Allowance and Planning Conference.  I even attended a candidate meet and greet and this was also the hot topic.   

So, let’s begin…

TECHNOLOGY ALLOWANCE & INCREASE – In 2005 the Technology Allowance was approved.  This fund allows the Mayor and Commissioners to purchase items they feel are needed to perform his/her duties when serving on the Town Council.  The amount given was $3500.00 per term for the mayor and each commissioner.  During the 2017 Planning Conference Commissioner Jeff Miller recommended that the Technology Allowance be increased $100.00 per member bringing total allowed to $3,600.00 per term.  That comes to a total of $25,200.00 and all items purchased by a council member during their term is there’s to keep.  The increase was approved by Commissioners John Higdon, Jeff Miller, John Urban, Chris Melton and Larry Whitley.  There were questions of  “who” and “how much” has been spent during the 2016/2017 term.  To date Commissioner Larry Whitley has been reimbursed $2,405.61, Commissioner Jeff Miller $2,157.16 and Commissioner Chris Melton $2,240.90.  Until a commissioner submits his receipts for reimbursement to be approved by the Board there is no documentation available.  The mayor and commissioners have until December when this current term ends to submit all receipts.     

ANNUAL PLANNING CONFERENCE – In 2017 the Planning Conference was held on February 23-26th.  This is a public meeting but on February 24th through the 26th this meeting was held at Ocean Isle Beach.  The cost for the Planning Conference came to a total of $5,616.81 not including any reimbursements to the commissioners, of this amount $3,918.00 was for the beach house rental.  An amount of $1,191.89 was spent for supplies, breakfast foods, lunch and dinner.  The restaurant of choice seems to be the Boundary House totaling $466.83 another favorite spot is LA Cucina Italiano totaling $384.52.  Also in attendance was our Town Attorney Charles Buckley who charges $205.00 per hour.  His hourly rate was increased to $205.00 per hour by the Board on June 27, 2016.  The vote to hold the annual planning conference at Ocean Isle Beach was supported by Commissioners John Higdon, Jeff Miller, John Urban, Chris Melton, and Larry Whitley.  Although I would like to say, Commissioner John Higdon has at times expressed his concerns to hold the conference locally.  While on the other hand, during the 2014 Planning Conference Commissioner Chris Melton stated “this meeting was fully advertised and no public showed.  Indicates going out of town wouldn’t negatively affect the public.”   In 2016 he criticized the citizens stating “The board is often criticized for being out of town at the PC and we’ve been in town all day yesterday and since early this morning.  He applauds the board and committee members who are here today but it seems clear to him that the ppl who complain about going out of town/not making it convenient for citizens to attend aren’t even here. He will continue to say that argument is invalid but he thanks those folks who are actively here.”  I my opinion, he just does not get it.  It does not matter if anyone attends the meeting or not.  The problem is that he along with others feel they have every right to spend tax payer funds for an all expense paid weekend retreat at Ocean Isle Beach and call it the Planning Conference.  What’s the difference in discussing town issues here opposed to the beach?  FYI…this is a public meeting.                  2017 Planning Conference Receipts

MR. NEUBERT PURSER –  Mr. Purser was a WWII Veteran whose farm was condemned by the mayor and five commissioners who were serving in 2005.  The Town continues to deny the condemnation and continues to state, we paid for the land.  All condemnations must be compensated but the issue here is that Mr. Purser did not want to sell.  This condemnation was supported by former Commissioner Kress Query and Paul Bailey.  

Purser Closed Session Minutes

MR. & MRS. WRIGHT – For over twenty years the Wright family fought the Town for their property rights and the town has yet to disclose the total amount spent in pursuing this issue.  In 2013 the vote to support the condemnation of the Wrights property was supported by Commissioner Jeff Miller, John Urban and former Commissioners Paul Bailey and Kress Query.  In 2014 the court ruled the condemnation was for the “well-connected”  and ruled in favor of the Wrights.  The appeal was supported by Commissioners John Higdon, Jeff Miller, Chris Melton and former Commissioner Kress Query.  In 2015 the NCCOA ruled in favor of the Wrights and they were awarded their attorney’s fees of $74.570.00 for the appeal filed by the Town.  There was discussion to appeal the 2015 ruling which was supported by Commissioner Chris Melton.  Commissioners John Higdon and Jeff Miller were in disagreement. 

 Judgement               NCCOA opinion 4-21-2015       Judge Bridges email     

LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES –    http://www.nclm.org/Pages/default.aspx      The Town of Matthews has been members of this organization for many years, membership fees are paid in July.  Cost for the past three years, 2017 -$22,609.00, 2016 – 23,715.00 and 2015 – $22,705.00 a total of  $69,029.00 of tax payer dollars.  

TOWN HALL DAY –  http://nclm.org/legislative-advocacy/involved/Pages/TownHallDay.aspx       This is an annual event held by the League of Municipalities in Raleigh and was held on March 29, 2017.  This year the enrollment fee of $50.00 per person was waived which helped in the cost.  For banquet room rental fee, dining and alcoholic beverages this a one day event cost was $1,079.75.     

METRO MAYORS COALITION –   http://ncmetromayors.com/    This is an organization for Mayors of North Carolina.  The Coalition holds two meetings a year and its members are are provided with “email updates almost daily of the work of the General Assembly and the Coalition advocacy agenda during session.”  They also offer weekly legislative conference calls. To date there are only 31 members.   For 2017 membership fees were $8,089.00 and was supported by Commissioners John Higdon, Jeff Miller, Chris Melton and Larry Whitley.  From 2014 to present total cost for the Metro Mayor Coalition membership has been $28,115.00.   

STORM WATER FUNDS USED ON PRIVATE PROPERTY – You may remember in July 2014 we received a massive amount of rain which caused flooding in and around Matthews.  One resident who is chair of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) private drive received flooding. A phone call and email was made to Mayor Taylor and on July 22nd and 23rd Matthews Public Works spent two days cleaning and removing the debris.  Former Public Works Director Ralph Massera noted it was the property owners responsibility but this cost was covered by the residents of Matthews.  Many residents received damage but were told by the town clean-up was their responsibility.   Storm Clean up @ 1200 Home Place – 2014

TAG FEE INCREASE –  In 2014 Commissioners John Higdon, Chris Melton and Kress Query voted to raise the car tag fee from $10.00 to $25.00 per car.  This would create $234,000.00 a year which was to help fund road repairs.  This is also know as a hidden tax.  

WORK AND PRIVATE EMAIL ACCOUNTS – According to the North Carolina Sunshine laws work and private email accounts can be used, BUT when used all emails must be forwarded to a town account for public record.  Recently it was discovered that Mayor Taylor was using his work email account and over 11,000.00 emails had been sent over a four year period.  Paul Bailey has used his work email account and when a public records request was made he denied that he had used his Duke Energy account. Paul Bailey email response    John Urban and Jeff Miller have also used their work email accounts.  We even have a former commissioner who used his work email account and now according to the town they do not have access to them.  On July 24, 2017 a public records request was made for all emails sent and received by former commissioner Kress Query from 2013 to present.  The response was “Mr. Query has reported that he has no emails relating to town business in his personal email account for this time period.  This is not true.  A saying that comes to mind, Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.   

DISRESPECT OF CITIZENS – What can you say when Mayor Taylor and Commissioner Chris Melton disrespect citizens in email.  Not only is this a disgrace to the Town, they are public servants and should be held accountable.  U-4714 Taylor- Melton email   –                                    U-4714 – CRTPO Taylor – Robert Cook email   –  Melton – Taylor – Urban email & Church letter –   Commissioner Chris Melton & Mayor Taylor Ridge Church email  John Street Emails Taylor/Melton – scroll to pages 5 & 6.   You may find this report by WSOC-TV interesting.       

http://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/channel-9-finds-matthews-city-leaders-taking-jabs-at-constituent/615476415

2018 Operating Budget Ordinance

MEET THE CANDIDATES – 

————————  MAYORAL RACE  ———————————————————————————

Larry Whitley –

1. You once told me that I could not fight government.  Do you really believe citizens do not have a voice?   Yes, citizens always have a voice in government, it was 2 years ago when you and the mayor was having exchange of words.  You were running for office, this is when I made this statement to you.

2. Your first and only priority while serving as commissioner was the widening of Crestdale, which is the road your church is on.  Granted this road may need improvement but there are many town owned roads in desperate need of repair.  Why was this road your only concern?  My 1st priority was not widening of Crestdale.  This came up in my second year.  My first priority was to make Martin Luther King a Holiday for the town of Matthews. All other surrounding towns already had.  We passed 7 to 0 back in 3/2016.  My next priority was to bring about Diversity training for all town employees, which is a must for the times we are living in.  This will address the needs of all our citizens.  Crestdale Rd. is very close to downtown with a very heavy flow of traffic and had no work done to it in over 16 years.  This road needed widening and the curve at the box factory needed straighten.  There are other roads that need to be repaired also and if elected your Mayor this will be one of my priories.

3. In the local community newspaper you stated “I believe that Matthews should have a mayor that’s representative for everybody.  In the two years I’ve spent as commissioner, I’ve seen that the town is not represented for everybody.”  Please explain your statement.    As a former police office, I notice that we had no ranking minorities out of 56 sworn officers in 2016 but we do now. (2017)

4.  With so many other options available should the citizens of Matthews continue to fund the Technology Fund and Planning Conference trip to Ocean Isle Beach?  Couldn’t these funds be put to better use for our Police and Fire Department?   Yes we need technology funds to keep up with the changing times, also the planning conference trip is a time to get away to work out the town business.  We are not on vacation.

Paul Bailey –  Mr. Bailey has chosen not to answer the questions. 

1.  Why were you dishonest in disclosing the use of your Duke Energy email account?

2.  Why did you support the condemnation of Mr. Purser’s farm?

Why did you support the condemnation of Mr. & Mrs. Wrights property?

If my memory serves me correct, you wanted to pass a cal leash ordinance.  Why?

——————-  BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ———————————————————————-

John Higdon –  http://www.electjohnfhigdon.com/

1. Please tell why you decided to run again.  I enjoy being a town commissioner and feel I am making a difference.

2. When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?   This would depend on the infraction.  The Board shouldn’t get involved, for instance, if a commissioner was found to be cheating on his spouse.  This is certainly unethical behavior, but not something that requires local government intervention.  On the other hand, if a commissioner participated in a serious crime or otherwise harmed the town or its residents in some way, then yes the Board should address.

3. Our tax dollars are used to pay your cell phone bill, why do you not post your contact number on the Town website?   I don’t post my cell number publicly to prevent non-residents from tying up my phone with spam calls.  However when a resident contacts me via e-mail regarding a concern, my reply regularly includes my cell number.  Also I am a dinosaur of sorts and still have a land line at my home.  My home number is publicly available.

4.  What exactly was the reason for upping your electronics budget and what rationale could you give for Chris Melton to purchase three electronic items (iPad, 2 Macbooks) in less that two years?  Is this an example of your ethics in fiscal responsibility?  Do you feel the stipend should not be used with some accountability to the taxpayers?  Also, in lieu of other towns and cities conducting all retreats internally, how do you rationalize your annual beach trip when other municipalities have already deemed such excursions as not having the public trust in mind, or being frivolous use of tax dollars?   The technology allowance was increased from $3500 to $3600 per term as a nod to inflation (this is a $4.17 per month increase per commissioner).  Our accountability to taxpayers lies in our commitment that we will not exceed this budgeted amount.  Commissioner Melton’s purchases were within this allocation.  On several occasions I have offered for consideration local alternative to the planning conference, but the consensus of the board has been to continue these meetings at the beach.  If re-elected, I will again suggest we consider a local, less costly venue.

Jeff Miller –    http://www.commissionerjeffmiller.com/

1. Please tell why you decided to run again.  For consistency on the Town Board and to continue on the projects that are already underway.

2. When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?   This depends on the level described as ‘unethical’.  The Resident Voters are the ones who make the ultimate decision.

3. Our tax dollars are used to pay your cell phone bill, why do you not post your contact number on the Town website?   We could, but I don’t manage the Town website.  I am unable to talk on my cell phone in my home due to poor coverage.  I also prefer not to use it while I drive….  There are links to email us when questions arise.  Email is my preferred method of communications as 1. There is no bad time to send or reply to an email.  2. It creates a ‘paper trail’ that is traceable.

4.  What exactly was the reason for upping your electronics budget and what rationale could you give for Chris Melton to purchase three electronic items (iPad, 2 Macbooks) in less that two years?  Is this an example of your ethics in fiscal responsibility?  Do you feel the stipend should not be used with some accountability to the taxpayers?  Also, in lieu of other towns and cities conducting all retreats internally, how do you rationalize your annual beach trip when other municipalities have already deemed such excursions as not having the public trust in mind, or being frivolous use of tax dollars?   The Technology Allowance went up by $4.16 per month per Commissioner; not sure why that is a hot topic.  I cannot speak for Mr. Melton about that purchase or why he made those.  The Beach House was cheaper per person than any Hotel accommodations due to the number of rooms, break-out sessions and cost of food & beverage.  We stay in the home all weekend and go the Grocery store for breakfast items, snacks and beverage.

John Urban –   http://www.votejohnurban.com/      Mr. Urban has chosen not to answer question number five. 

1. Please tell why you decided to run again.   I am continually asked to serve and likewise fell my professional and business owner qualifications provide me with the effective leadership skills for the community.  Serving as a Commissioner and serving on a variety of local non-profit boards is my way of contributing to the Town of Matthews.

2. When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?    Provided if that Commissioner violated and local or state statues, regarding the ethics rules that are set by the State Legislators – then, yes, held accountable.

3. Our tax dollars are used to pay your cell phone bill, why do you not post your contact number on the Town website?    Tax dollars are not used to pay my cell phone bill, I have never asked for reimbursement.

4.  What exactly was the reason for upping your electronics budget and what rationale could you give for Chris Melton to purchase three electronic items (iPad, 2 Macbooks) in less that two years?  Is this an example of your ethics in fiscal responsibility?  Do you feel the stipend should not be used with some accountability to the taxpayers?  Also, in lieu of other towns and cities conducting all retreats internally, how do you rationalize your annual beach trip when other municipalities have already deemed such excursions as not having the public trust in mind, or being frivolous use of tax dollars?    Every Commissioner has the ability to use the technology allowance as they deem fit to best address their needs when serving as Commissioner.  I don’t recall why the technology budget was increased because I do not use the technology allowance.  Each Commissioner can use the allowance up to the limits prescribed.  Again, I have never used the technology allowance and have actually given back my allowance to the general fund.  I can see with the demands of the Office and that there are reasonable needs that some may require.  Likewise, those Commissioners should not be subject to being labeled fiscally irresponsible nor unethical provided they follow and meet the terms of the technology allowance.  I would not lump in “all other towns” conduct retreats internally, that doesn’t speak to what they may expense.  Regardless, I am not opposed to a local planning conference and in the past some conferences have split time between the town and external to the town.  There are pros and cons to both situations.  I have proposed local planning conferences in the past, but the Board works via consensus.

5. Your architectural firm has made a nice fortune in the development of Matthews.  Because you serve on the Town Board and know the future plans and development of the town, do you not find this to be a conflict of interest?     FYI – Mr. Urban’s architectural firms most recent designs include, Northend Development, Point Blank Range, Pike’s Nursery and Taft Development Group.  These are the apartments going along Monroe Road that were just approved on February 13, 2017.

Chris Melton –  Commissioner Melton has chosen not to answer the questions. 

1. Please tell why you decided to run again.

2. When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?

3. Our tax dollars are used to pay your cell phone bill, why do you not post your contact number on the Town website?   

4.  What exactly was the reason for upping your electronics budget and what rationale could you give for Chris Melton to purchase three electronic items (iPad, 2 Macbooks) in less that two years?  Is this an example of your ethics in fiscal responsibility?  Do you feel the stipend should not be used with some accountability to the taxpayers?  Also, in lieu of other towns and cities conducting all retreats internally, how do you rationalize your annual beach trip when other municipalities have already deemed such excursions as not having the public trust in mind, or being frivolous use of tax dollars?   

Kress Query – Mr. Query who currently serves on the Planning Board has chosen not to answer the questions.  Because Mr. Query has served as commissioner in the past his questions have been tailored specifically for him.   

1. Why did you decide to run for Town Council again?

2.  When there were other properties available why did you support the condemnation of WWII Veteran Neubert Purser’s farm?

3.  In 2014 Judge Bridges ruled the condemnation of Mr. & Mrs. Wrights property was for the well-connected.  Why did you support this condemnation?  Why did you support the appeal?

4.  Do you believe there should be term limits?  Please explain your view.

Allen Crosby –    http://www.votecrosby.com

 1. Please tell a little about yourself and why you decided to run for office?  I am a life time resident of Matthews and I want to help Matthews continue to be the great place to live that it is currently for many years to come. 

2. Do you believe government should be transparent?    Yes, Representative government by definition, reflects the will of the people and ought to work on their behalf.  If government is not transparent then it cannot be truly representative.

3. What is your opinion of the Technology Fund and Planning Conference?  Is this being fiscally responsible?  A limited number of tools are necessary to complete needed work, but misuse of tax payer funds is never acceptable.  Commissioners should only use funds as needed and always have the tax payer cost benefit in mind.  As far as the planning conference if the board must go away it needs to be somewhere cheap and to work.  I don’t really see the need for it.   

4. Should the citizens of Matthews be responsible for the cost of alcoholic beverages for the council?   My gut tells me to go with no.  Tax payer dollars should never be used without an inherent benefit to the citizens of Matthews.  So, when it comes to personal consumption the council should pay out of their own pockets.  However, In certain situations I believe it would be appropriate.  For example an outside party, who’s actions could improve the lives of citizens i’e: state legislators, governors, federal officials, etc., would like a glass of wine at an official function I believe it might be in Matthews best interest to pay for the glass of wine.  The key is that the tax payer’s funds are not wasted and it is for official business. 

5. When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?    Yes,   unethical behavior should not be tolerated.  It is important to follow  the letter of the law set for by the State GA and our town ordinance.  Defining unethical behavior is critical for this to occur.  There cannot be any grey area.  I think ordinances to govern unethical behavior need to be transparent and readily available to the citizens.  Beyond that it is the duty of the citizens to vote out those who have proven to be unethical.    

6. In 2015 the NC Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. & Mrs. Wright awarding them $74,570.00 for their attorney fees.  On August 24, 2015 the Board approved the Budget Ordinance Amendment for this amount to be paid to the Wrights.  Listed on the ordinance it states “Legal Fees”.  Should town documents be property disclosed?  (see attachment)   I think all town documents should be disclosed for public viewing if it does not violate the law.  These documents should be property defined provide direction as to where additional documentation on the subject can be found.   

Norah Burke –    https://norahburke.com/   

1. Please tell a little about yourself and why you decided to run for office?   I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and attended Penn State University, where I earned a B.S. on Psychology.  After graduating I moved to Orlando, Florida, where I lived for 7 years before having the opportunity to move to North Carolina.  My husband and I chose to live in Matthews because it had the small town feel we were looking for in our new community.  I work from home as an assistant to a financial advisor, which also allows me to care for my three small children.  I decided to run for office because I have a number of concerns about the way our town is being run – including the lack of accountability, the lack of a forward thinking plan for future development, and the lack of diversity on our current board.  I hope to address all of these issues as commissioner.   

2. Do you believe government should be transparent?   Yes, I believe the public has a right to know exactly where their tax dollars are going and the manner in which their elected officials are representing the town.  This information should be readily available to anyone seeking to access it.  

3. What is your opinion of the Technology Fund and Planning Conference?  Is this being fiscally responsible?  As someone whose job requires up to date computer and cell phone technology, I am aware of the present cost of these things and I do believe the present technology stipend is high.  I also think the planning conference is an unnecessary expense.  The event can be held much close to Matthews and at a greatly reduced cost to the Matthews taxpayer.  

4. Should the citizens of Matthews be responsible for the cost of alcoholic beverages for the council?    No.  Most major companies don’t reimburse for alcoholic beverages, government should be no different.  Furthermore, I don’t think council members should be drinking alcoholic beverages while conducting town business.  

5. When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?    Yes,  We should have a system of formal reprimands and a method of removing council members for egregious offences.  

6. In 2015 the NC Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. & Mrs. Wright awarding them $74,570.00 for their attorney fees.  On August 24, 2015 the Board approved the Budget Ordinance Amendment for this amount to be paid to the Wrights.  Listed on the ordinance it states “Legal Fees”.  Should town documents be property disclosed?  (see attachment)    Town documents should be fully accessible and fully disclosed.  Any time town money is spent a specific breakdown should be available for public review.  

Barbara Dement –   Ms. Dement has chosen not to answer the questions.

1. Please tell a little about yourself and why you decided to run for office? 

2. Do you believe government should be transparent? 

3. What is your opinion of the Technology Fund and Planning Conference?  Is this being fiscally responsible?  

4. Should the citizens of Matthews be responsible for the cost of alcoholic beverages for the council?   

5. When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council? 

6. In 2015 the NC Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. & Mrs. Wright awarding them $74,570.00 for their attorney fees.  On August 24, 2015 the Board approved the Budget Ordinance Amendment for this amount to be paid to the Wrights.  Listed on the ordinance it states “Legal Fees”.  Should town documents be property disclosed?  (see attachment)

7.  During the Plantation Estates Candidates forum of 2015 you had mentioned it was the Towns responsiblity to inform the citizens of issues not MATTHEWS WATCH.  Because the citizens have not been informed of the truth on issues will this be an item you plan to address if elected?  If so, will all the facts be disclosed?

For example… In 2013 the Town of Matthews tried to condemn property along a private road for their well-connected friends.  Citizens were told the condemnation was for opening, widening, sidewalks, etc. when in fact this was not true.  Also, the Town has yet to disclose total amount spent in pursuing the Wrights for over twenty years.    

Dimple Shah –   http://www.dimpleformatthews.com/  

1. Please tell a little about yourself and why you decided to run for office?   I am a native of Virginia and have been in North Carolina since 2007.  I am a graduate of Radford University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.  As an RN, I worked at a VA Medical Center in Virginia as an oncology nurse, as well as a community hospital in TN as an emergency room nurse.  After having children, I chose to be a stay-at-home mother and devote my time to volunteer service.  I enjoy volunteering to tutor children at local schools, and being engaged in voter registration and education efforts. I am member of the League of Women Voters, Sustain Charlotte, Physicians for a National Health Plan and an active PTA member.  I am on the Board of Director of Health Care  Justice-NC and on the Board of Directors of North Carolina Climate Solutions Coalition.  My husband works at the Salisbury VA Medical Center, and we live near downtown Matthews with our 2 sons, ages 11 and 13.

 On November 9, 2016, the vision I had of myself, my community, my country were challenged and shook me to my core.  I realized how my parents must have felt like when they stepped off the plane as immigrants – a foreigner in a land they loved.  In an instant, I live in an America I couldn’t recognize.  I suddenly felt like an outsider, unwelcome here.  Aside from voting, I had never been active in politics.  I thought that’s what politicians did… not a regular person like me.  After the Women’s March in DC, I returned home with a newfound energy and excitement to be the changer I wanted to see.  I joined newly formed activist groups, I marched, I rallied, I wrote postcards, I called my representatives and met with their staff.  ‘Were my actions changing anything?’  I thought. Since November, I have been inspired by so may friends in my community who have stepped out of their own comfort zones, overcame challenges, and decided to make a difference.  I thought “Where can I make the most impact for positive change in my community?  Where can I listen to people’s concerns and make a difference?”  “What local issues affect me?”  Local government impacts our day-to-day life.  There are issues in Matthews that people, including me, have concerns about and not many officials really want or try to listen.  That bothers me.  One of my concerns is the increase in commuter traffic through our historic downtown, which affects me and my children to be able to walk and bike around Matthews safely.  Our elected officials work for the benefit of our community, and that community needs to feel represented.  I decided to run for Matthews Town Council because I love my town, and I want to be a leader that listens and puts the needs of Matthews and its residents first.  Preserving the historic charm and character of our downtown, improving public safety, and account for fiscal responsibility are important issues to many people in Matthews, including me.  I also believe in having diverse leadership that is accessible and engaged with the Matthews community.  Currently there are no women on the Town Council, and there should be?  “I want to be the voice for Matthews residents and represent YOUR concerns?  Whatever your concerns, I will be available and accessible to listen.”  

2. Do you believe government should be transparent?    Government cannot be transparent unless its leaders are transparent.  And they definitely should be transparent.  As an elected official, transparency earns trust.  There should be nothing to hide from constituents.  Our representatives should be open and honest about their actions and decisions, and in mistakes are made, then it’s best to recognize it.  I think most people would prefer honesty in their normal lives, so why not from our leaders.  As a constituent, I would respect the opinion of my representative if he/she is honest and transparent. 

3.  What is your opinion of the Technology Fund and Planning Conference?  Is this being fiscally responsible?   I believe there can be much more fiscally responsible ways of supplying technology to the Council and attending a Planning Conference.  Our technology stipend of $3600 (after a $100 recent increase) is more than that of Charlotte City Council and surrounding towns.  Computers are not very expensive nowadays, and one’s entire cell phone bill doesn’t need to be covered if it is also being used for personal use.  If officials are re-elected, being allowed to purchase another $3600 worth of technology seems like a waste of taxpayer money.  In a nearby town, officials are given iPads to use that are town-owned, and if they do not get re-elected, they are offered to purchase it for a $1.  Personally, I do not believe the amount designated as a Technology Fund is fiscally responsible.

The Planning Conference takes place over several days.  In 2015, it was 4 days long with the last 3 days being at Ocean Isle beach.  In 2016 and 2017, it was also over 4 days with the last 2 days at the same Ocean Isle beach.  What benefit to Matthews is there to continue the conference at a beach?  It is an unnecessary added expense (big expense I may add), and seems more like a “taxpayers trip” than a meeting.  A nearby town has their annual retreat or meeting at a location in uptown Charlotte with a free facility rental and no overnight stays out of town.  That puts money back into our community locally, and saves taxpayers money.  Using town funds to take beach trips for a public service office is not being fiscally responsible.          

4. Should the citizens of Matthews be responsible for the cost of a alcoholic beverages for the council?   Absolutely not!  Providing food and drinks during public service hours is appropriate.  But alcohol is a personal choice, that should be paid with personal funds not taxpayers funds. 

5.  When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?   Absolutely!  As an elected official who represents the town and it’s citizens, upholding oneself to a high ethical standard is paramount.  “With great power comes great responsibility” is a phrase that comes to mind.  That includes being responsible for one’s ethical actions.  When one’s responsibilities are not carried out, then he/she should be held accountable.  Ethical violations reflect negatively on the Board and, ultimately, the Town. 

6.  In 2015 the NC Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. & Mrs. Wright awarding them $74,570.00 for their attorney fees.  On August 24, 2015 the Board approved the Budget Ordinance Amendment for this amount to be paid to the Wrights.  Listed on the ordinance it states “Legal Fees”.  Should town documents be property disclosed?  (see attachment)   So, without knowing too much detail about this matter, according to this document, it looks like the town increased the revenue of their General Fund (at least on paper), just to use it as an expenditure to fund the payment of the Wrights legal fees.  So, our taxpayer monies went to pay for a lawsuit that was won by the Wrights against the Town.  I would’ve hoped the Town’s legal counsel at the time would’ve known the law enough to not have had the need to fight a lawsuit in the first place.  However, if the details of the lawsuit and costs incurred by taxpayers was not disclosed to the public, it should have been. We as taxpayers have a right to know where and how our tax monies are being spent. And accurate records should be kept and available to the public.

Sebastian Feculak –   https://sebastianformatthews.com/

1. Please tell a little about yourself and why you decided to run for office?   I decided to run to better represent the needs of a thriving community to adjust to the changes happening around our region.  I want to work on preserving our history and community, while also bridging the gaps that have existed.  This means solving issues both physical and social.  We also need to make sure everyone’s voice is represented on issues that affect them.

I have been a resident of Matthews for the last 10 years, and have attended East Mecklenburg High School and University of North Carolina at Charlotte where I received my degrees in Economics and Political Science.  I currently work in the financial technology industry in Uptown Charlotte.    

2. Do you believe government should be transparent?   Yes, Improvements can always be made on every level as well.  Transparency and honesty builds trust in our representatives and government, and why it’s important that our actions reflect that. 

3.  What is your opinion of the Technology Fund and Planning Conference?  Is this being fiscally responsible?    I don’t believe it is necessary for the commissioner to have access to such a high, personal technology fund.  The planning conference can also be hosted locally to lower the cost of such forums.  

4. Should the citizens of Matthews be responsible for the cost of a alcoholic beverages for the council?   No, The town shouldn’t be responsible for paying for the commissioners’ entertainment.

5.  When a elected official has participated in an unethical manner should he/she be held accountable by the council?     They certainly should be held accountable and some governing bodies do have boards responsible for ethical review, with experts in law and ethics to appropriately review cases with impartiality.  There should be a process for ethical accountability as well; for instance we currently have a quasi-judicial Board of Adjustment that overlooks issues of zoning.  Any concerns that are not resolved then move on up to the court system.  A similar process can be placed together for ethical review.   

6.  In 2015 the NC Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. & Mrs. Wright awarding them $74,570.00 for their attorney fees.  On August 24, 2015 the Board approved the Budget Ordinance Amendment for this amount to be paid to the Wrights.  Listed on the ordinance it states “Legal Fees”.  Should town documents be property disclosed?  (see attachment)   Yes, This follows my previous answer about transparency and clarity as well.

Budget Ordinance Amendment – Document presented for question six.

PLEASE INFORM YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY AND NEIGHBORS OF THIS POSTING.  THE MORE YOU KNOW ABOUT THE CANDIDATES THE BETTER DECISION YOU WILL MAKE.  IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED A POSTCARD IN THE MAIL PLEASE PASS IT ON TO SOMEONE SO THAT THEY MAY ALSO BE INFORMED.  REMEMBER JUST BECAUSE SOME CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN ENDORSED BY CURRENT AND FORMER POLITICIANS THIS DOES NOT MAKE THEM THE BETTER CHOICE.         

AS ALWAYS PLEASE SUPPORT MATTHEWS WATCH BY TELLING YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.

THANK YOU,   GINA HOOVER 

 

 

  

 

 

East John Street Update & Use of Private Email Account, Here We Go Again

EAST JOHN STREET UPDATE – On July 31, 2017 the NCDOT held a community meeting at Matthews Town Hall to provide an update on the widening of East John Street.  During this meeting it was discussed that the traffic analysis performed by the NCDOT did not include the widening of US HWY 74 (project U-2509) and the McKee Road extension (project U-4713).  During the August 14, 2017 Board of Commissioners meeting the Mayor and Commissioners approved that a letter be sent to Mr. Scott Cole of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) requesting a new traffic analysis study of all current road projects and to include NCDOT projects U-2509 and U-4713.  The widening of East John Street has been in the planning for fifteen or more years.  Citizens have always been lead to believe by the Town that the push to begin the project lie’s with the NCDOT, but according to a letter dated July 18, 2014 sent to the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) on behalf of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) of Matthews, Paul Jamison who is chair of the EDAC stated “Therefore, EDAC recommends that the following projects in Matthews be given high priority and funded as soon as possible.”  So, can you guess what street made the list?  Yep…. East John Street and this letter was CC’d to Mayor Jim Taylor and Commissioners John Higdon, Jeff Miller, John Ross, Chris Melton and former Commissioner Kress Query.  So I think the Town is also guilty in pushing the widening of East John Street.  What is the CRTPO?  In short, it is the CRTPO’s “responsibility to coordinate transportation policy for local governmental jurisdiction within the Charlotte Urbanized Area.”     CRTPO ABOUT PAGE     Just an FYI, Mayor Taylor is chair of the CRTPO which makes him a voting member and as a member has been well informed on the widening of East John Street.    CRTPO MEMBER LISTING          

 U-4714 – Letter to Scott Cole

U-4714 July 31, 2017 NCDOT presentation 

U-4714 – Paul Jamison letter         

With the Mayor and Commissioners approving the letter we have been lead once again to believe that they have come to the rescue when actually the community group known as Preserve Matthews has requested many times from our Town leadership that a new traffic analysis study be performed but this has fallen on deaf ears.  Do you not find it interesting how all Board members have now boarded the train of “we stand with you” and have become more vocal and supportive?  Isn’t it funny how an election year can change one’s mind.  It is also very important to understand that the NCDOT works in Divisions.  Division 10 covers Mecklenburg  and Union County.  Division 10 is Mr. Cole’s area and he is Deputy Division Engineer of the NCDOT.  Many within Division 10 work closely with Matthews Planning Department, Public Works the Mayor and Commissioners so they know each other well.  Do not be fooled when the town announces, we are working with the NCDOT or we are sending this or that to the NCDOT, this is all part of the game. 

NCDOT Division 10

Also, I think you may find this interesting.  Lat Purser E John St. Re-route   Pretty much speaks for its self don’t you think?  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Town treated the concerns of the all citizens who live in Matthews with the same respect?  Here we have someone who does not even live in Matthews.   I would like to point out that there is a citizen who is part of the Preserve Matthews movement, which I will not name for privacy reasons.  This person has spent a tremendous amount of time in trying to preserve the history and small town feel of Matthews.  So I find it very offensive and inappropriate for Mayor Taylor to degrade her for speaking up and trying to make a difference.  Remember the Ridge Church email between Commissioner Chris Melton and Mayor Jim Taylor saying in emailI’d love to walk in on that meeting and see him say those things to my face.”    And why is it that Commissioner Chris Melton always chimes in with Mayor Taylor?  I think they need a reality check.  

U-4714 Taylor- Melton email   

U-4714 – CRTPO Taylor – Robert Cook email             

Commissioner Chris Melton & Mayor Taylor Ridge Church email    

PRIVATE EMAIL ACCOUNTS, HERE WE GO AGAIN – What is public record?  Public records are paper records, minutes of meetings, any hand written notes, reports, phone messages, maps, photographs, e-mail, spread sheets, audio and video recordings anything that has been received or created by a government agency pertaining to public business.  According to North Carolina General Statute 132 Public Records pretty much anything unless there’s another law that state’s it is not and we all have the right to examine and obtain copies.  

As we all know Paul Bailey is running for Mayor of Matthews now that Mayor Jim Taylor has dropped out.  Through research I have discovered that Mr. Bailey has used his private Duke Energy email account to conduct town business and according to North Carolina General Statute 132 this is public record and anyone has the right to request copies.  On Tuesday August 1, 2017 I sent in a Public Records request to our Town Clerk Lori Canapinno requesting all emails sent and received through Mr. Bailey’s Duke Energy email account from 2005 to 2013 that pertains to Town business.  Mr. Bailey’s response was…

 “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.”

“I have no emails from any of my personal email accounts to provide for this request.  Any Town business conducted has been through my former Town email account.”

Paul Bailey email response

I believe Mr. Bailey is a very smart guy so I was dumbfounded by his response.  I think a very important character of being mayor is honesty and he has already blown that one to smithereens.   A request to Duke Energy was sent and according to Duke Energy Ethics Office they have “initiated a review of Mr. Bailey’s email usage.”  Its time for Mr. Bailey to man-up and take responsibility just as he did for his Facebook posting.   Lying never gets anyone anywhere and in the end you always get caught. Needless to say there will be more to come on this topic.  

WBTV Paul Bailey Story

Lastly I would like to be clear, by no means is this an endorsement for Commissioner Larry Whitley for Mayor.  

For the month of October MATTHEWS WATCH will be posting a “Know Before You Vote” on the candidates running for Mayor and Board of Commissioners.  Please help in spreading the word.  MATTHEWS WATCH will be taking any question or questions you may have for the candidates.  Please submit your question by September 15th.  Also please be sure you make clear who the question is for.  No names will be posted so that you may feel comfortable in asking your questions.  Email address is…. matthewswatch@hotmail.com or you can send questions through the Contact page. 

 CANDIDATE LISTING – 

Mayor, Town of Matthews

Paul Bailey

Larry Whitley

Board of Commissioners, Town of Matthews

Norah Burke

Allen Crosby

Barbara Dement

Sebtastian Feculak

John Higdon

Chris Melton

Jeff Miller

Kress Query

Dimple Shah

John Urban

THANK YOU AND PLEASE SUPPORT MATTHEWS WATCH BY TELLING YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.      

 

 

 

    

THE WELLS FARGO EMAIL

After the Wells Fargo email relating to Mayor Taylor was released on WSOC TV, their Facebook page and Twitter I have received phone calls, text messages and emails from friends and residents in and around Matthews asking, what in the world is going on in the Town of Matthews?  Instead of me constantly explaining “how” this all came to pass I decided to explain in this posting and hopefully this will answer all the questions.    

Within this website there are many documents provided.  In order to provide all the information that is posted a public records request must be made.  A email request was made to the Town of Matthews and according to North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) §132 Public Records I have every right to make this request.   All emails that include “town” business no matter the email address from which it was sent or received is public record and copies must be provided for.  If a request for public record is denied than the Town must cite the statute that trumps NCGS §132 Public Records.  According to NCGS §132-6 copies shall be furnish as promptly as possible.  

What it all comes down to is this, I made a request for emails concerning the land purchase off Matthews-Mint Hill Road.  Upon reading them I noticed that Mayor Taylor was forwarding emails to his Wells Fargo account.  I questioned why and what is being forwarded?  Especially when Mayor Taylor has a history of using a private email account in the past in order to keep information from public record which was stated by Judge Hunter of the North Carolina Court of Appeals case number COA14-943 (see bottom of page 7 & top of page 8).  I was told by Mayor Taylor and our Town Clerk that no emails had been forwarded to his Well Fargo account that pertained to the purchase of the land along Matthews-Mint Hill Road, but I could clearly see that something had been sent.  This then lead me to contacting Wells Fargo and requesting copy of emails thus producing the email response.

April 21, 2015 NCCOA opinion  *This is a published opinion, meaning it will now set a new precedent for the citizens of North Carolina.

Why did Mayor Taylor use his Wells Fargo email account?  I do not know, only he can answer that.  But, I do not think this is just about emails being sent.  There is more to this and I believe this lies within the second paragraph of the Wells Fargo email.

We have researched this matter and have determined that Mr. Taylor improperly used his Wells Fargo email account to send and receive messages relating to his duties as mayor.  Wells Fargo has policies which prohibit the use of corporate email for this type of outside activity and we will be acting accordingly to deal with the issue”

So while at Wells Fargo Mayor Taylor spent time doing business for the town.  This would explain one reason why he was forwarding emails to his work account.  When he forwarded emails to his Wells Fargo account no red flags would be sent because it had a Wells Fargo address.  This would be a way to hide the fact that he was doing town business during his paid work hours for Wells Fargo.  Hmmmm…. is this not being dishonest and stealing?  Well, this is just my theory.     

Is this the reason Mayor Taylor changed his mind to run for mayor?  I do not know.  His claim is “I have accomplished all the goals I’ve had” along with other various reasons and that’s his story and I’m sure he’s sticking to it.   Although, I do find it interesting that on Friday July 7th the first day when Mecklenburg County Board of Elections opened for registration he was there with pin in hand, normally not something one does if they are not sure they want to run again.  On July 13th I was notified by Wells Fargo and three business days later he withdrew.  Tuesday July 18th by 5:00pm was the deadline anyone could withdraw to remove their name from the ballot and it just so happened that Mayor Taylor decided to withdraw.  Paul Bailey signed up for Town Council on Monday July 10th.  He then withdrew his name from Town Council on Tuesday the 18th and stepped up to the plate to run for mayor.  You see, the good ol’ boys club needed someone to run against Mr. Whitley.  Mr. Bailey does not come without his skeletons.  One in particular, he supported the vote to condemn WWII Veteran Mr. Neubert Purser’s farm who was a hometown hero.  So in my opinion, Mayor Taylor was given an ultimatum by Wells Fargo which lead to the decision not to run again. 

The Town of Matthews responded to the email withMayor Taylor has stated that any email passing through his Wells Fargo account was/is forwarded through his town account.”  Really!?  First of all this is a BIG NO-NO.  Second, isn’t this like saying, it does not matter that I was hiding this from work, the emails were forwarded through my town account so there’s no problem its-all-good!  I think Wells Fargo saw different.  Even the Town of Matthews has a Technology and Communication Policy and employees are required to sign acknowledging they have read and received a copy.  If they violate this policy than it “could lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”   

Technology and Communications Policy 

I believe that when elected official’s participate in a unethical manner than the public must be informed.  If we do not hold these people accountable than we are just as guilty and we have no right to complain. 

Thank you for all the support and do not forget to support MATTHEWS WATCH by telling your friends and neighbors.  

NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL STATUTE CHAPTER 132 PUBLIC RECORDS AND 132-6 INSPECTION AND EXAMINATION

Chapter 132. Public Records. § 132-1. “Public records” defined. (a) “Public record” or “public records” shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions. Agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall mean and include every public office, public officer or official (State or local, elected or appointed), institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, authority or other unit of government of the State or of any county, unit, special district or other political subdivision of government. (b) The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people. Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law. As used herein, “minimal cost” shall mean the actual cost of reproducing the public record or public information. (1935, c. 265, s. 1; 1975, c. 787, s. 1; 1995, c.

§ 132-6. Inspection and examination of records. (a) Every custodian of public records shall permit any record in the custodian’s custody to be inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person, and shall, as promptly as possible, furnish copies thereof upon payment of any fees as may be prescribed by law. As used herein, “custodian” does not mean an agency that holds the public records of other agencies solely for purposes of storage or safekeeping or solely to provide data processing. (b) No person requesting to inspect and examine public records, or to obtain copies thereof, shall be required to disclose the purpose or motive for the request. (c) No request to inspect, examine, or obtain copies of public records shall be denied on the grounds that confidential information is commingled with the requested nonconfidential information. If it is necessary to separate confidential from nonconfidential information in order to permit the inspection, examination, or copying of the public records, the public agency shall bear the cost of such separation on the following schedule: State agencies after June 30, 1996; Municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more, counties with populations of 25,000 or more, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, and public hospitals in those counties, after June 30, 1997; Municipalities with populations of less than 10,000, counties with populations of less than 25,000, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, and public hospitals in those counties, after June 30, 1998; Political subdivisions and their agencies that are not otherwise covered by this schedule, after June 30, 1998. (d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, public records relating to the proposed expansion or location of specific business or industrial projects may be withheld so long as their inspection, examination or copying would frustrate the purpose for which such public records were created; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be construed to permit the withholding of public records relating to general economic development policies or activities. Once the State, a local government, or the specific business has announced a commitment by the business to expand or locate a specific project in this State or the business has made a final decision not to do so, of which the State or local government agency involved with the project knows or should know, the provisions of this subsection allowing public records to be withheld by the agency no longer apply. Once the provisions of this subsection no longer apply, the agency shall disclose as soon as practicable, and within 25 business days, public records requested for the announced project that are not otherwise made confidential by law. An announcement that a business or industrial project has committed to expand or locate in the State shall not require disclosure of local government records relating to the project if the business has not selected a specific location within the State for the project. Once a specific location for the project has been determined, local government records must be disclosed, upon request, in accordance with the provisions of this section. For purposes of this section, “local government records” include records maintained by the State that relate to a local government’s efforts to attract the project. Records relating to the proposed expansion or location of specific business or industrial projects that are in the custody of the Department of Commerce or an entity with which the Department contracts pursuant to G.S. 143B-431.01 shall be treated as follows: (1) Unless controlled by another subdivision of this subsection, the records may be withheld if their inspection, examination, or copying would frustrate the purpose for which the records were created. G.S. 132-6 Page 2 (2) If no discretionary incentives pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes are requested for a project and if the specific business decides to expand or locate the project in the State, then the records relating to the project shall not be disclosed. (3) If the specific business has requested discretionary incentives for a project pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes and if either the business decides not to expand or locate the project in the State or the project does not receive the discretionary incentives, then the only records relating to the project that may be disclosed are the requests for discretionary incentives pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes and any information submitted to the Department by the contracted entity. (4) If the specific business receives a discretionary incentive for a project pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes and the State or the specific business announces a commitment to expand or locate the project in this State, all records requested for the announced project, not otherwise made confidential by law, shall be disclosed as soon as practicable and within 25 days from the date of announcement. (e) The application of this Chapter is subject to the provisions of Article 1 of Chapter 121 of the General Statutes, the North Carolina Archives and History Act. (f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the inspection or copying of any public record which, because of its age or condition could be damaged during inspection or copying, may be made subject to reasonable restrictions intended to preserve the particular record. (1935, c. 265, s. 6; 1987, c. 835, s.

 

 

 

 

UPDATE – NCDOT PROJECT U-4714 EAST JOHN STREET MATTHEWS & YOUR MONEY

UPDATE FROM APRIL POSTING – http://www.matthewswatch.com/2017/04/ncdot-project-u-4714-east-john-streetsuper-street/

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has now scrapped the superstreet design.  What is a superstreet?  When there are two roads that cross each other,  you get an interchange.  At this point there is a red light/green light intersection.  You are able to turn left, right or go straight.  A  superstreet is an alternative to a lighted intersection.  On a superstreet, roads that join to the superstreet can only turn right onto it.  To make a left turn one would have to travel in the other direction and then make a U-turn.  They seem to be the new fad with the NCDOT.  

 

 

 

 

There has been quite a buzz these past couple of months concerning East John Street with media, community and newspaper coverage.  On June 14, 2017 the NCDOT presented two four lane highway designs to the Town of Matthews and a community meeting is being planned for late July/early August.  While this may be the answer to the Town the citizens in and around Matthews feel this will still destroy the character of Matthews.  A “road diet” is being requested by residents who support the Preserve Matthews movement. The favorite seems to be a three lane concept.  Something like presented in the picture below.  They have also requested that construction of E. John Street be put on hold until the Hwy 74, Weddington Road Interchange at I-485 and the McKee Road Extension is complete so that the NCDOT and Town can see how much traffic from Monroe, Stallings and Indian Trail will be diverted around Matthews which would relieve some of the congestion currently along the E. John Street corridor.  With the planning of CATS running from Sardis Road all the way to CPCC Levine this too should help with congestion.  This sounds reasonable, right?       

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever future development is being planned within the Town of Matthews town staff will present and discuss with the NCDOT in order to get their feel and how they may be able to help.  Not only is the Town planning to develop the property around the Sportsplex there are big plans to commercialize downtown Matthews as you can see in the Matthews Downtown Streetscape Design.  The look and feel of a small town will be no more.   

Matthews Downtown Streetscape Draft   

The development of the Entertainment District and Wingate Commons will run from old Highway 51 to East John Street and there are Stakeholders whose interests need protecting.  Unfortunately here in Matthews money is more important than people.  There are individuals who currently serve on the Board and Town Committees who will probably benefit from the development as well.  Is this not a conflict of interest? 

  

We are constantly being told how “congested” E. John Street is going to become over the next ten years or so and yet instead of diverting traffic the Town’s plan is to make E. John Street a gateway into downtown Matthews.  What’s wrong with that picture?   In the Town of Matthews Land Use Plan it states “Between the I-485 interchange area and downtown, adjacent land should remain its current, mostly residential use.  If redeveloped, this land would be appropriate for higher-density alternative housing styles.  Recombination of parcels and sharing of driveway access points would be ideal in this scenario.”  Translation?  Let’s put more homes and cause more traffic on E. John Street.  

As a Matthews native who LOVES the old time charm I questioned if East John Street could be pulled into the Town Maintained Street System and this was my posting on Facebook. 

What if I told you there could POSSIBLY be a way to stop the E. John St. project completely. Would you be interested? Something so simple you are going to say, no way! I have spent many days researching and asking myself how can we save the homes, the character of the Town, in all avoid this project completely. Today I had a meeting with the DOT and this was my proposal.

Within the Town of Matthews the Mayor and Commissioners have the power to pull streets into the town maintained system. To do this all the Mayor and Commissioners have to do is pass a Resolution adding streets to the Town’s street system. My question to the DOT was, is it possible to pull a portion of a street in? The DOT was unsure but after I provided information showing that on July 14, 2008 a section of Sam Newell Road between Matthews Street and Matthews Township Parkway (NC51) was pulled into the Town of Matthews, the response was I guess so but this would be completely up to the Town of Matthews to decide. My next question was, are there any reasons as to why not? There were none from the DOT. There was no reason why this could not or should not be done. The DOT did state that the section of the road would have to start from a main intersection like Greylock Ridge and end at another. It was also noted that the Greylock extension is not state funded. Meaning, we the taxpayers will pay this bill. So, the DOT noted the Town may not want to use our tax dollars on E. John because the Town is planning to construct Greylock Ridge extension.

A POSSIBLE solution? To pull E. John Street from Greylock Ridge all the way to Matthews Township Parkway into the Town maintained system. This way the Reid House, Matthews Veterinary Clinic, gas stations and everything in-between would be protected. But, most important the character of the Town would be preserved.
It would then be the responsibility of the Town to maintain E. John St. which means speed humps could then be strategically placed along the road thus slowing down traffic. A multi use lane could be installed for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclist. In a article Mayor Taylor stated “I’m not giving up and I don’t think anyone else is giving up.” Well, according to the DOT this is a possible. Gina Hoover

Apparently this was not received well with Mayor Taylor who noted “The idea of taking over any part of John Street was discussed briefly and it was quickly determined that a request like that would be financially irresponsible for the Town.  We currently have about 98 miles of roads in Matthews that we maintain and receive Powell Bill funding for.”  Interesting, I asked a NCDOT Representative who is very much educated on this project and he had no knowledge of this being discussed with the NCDOT.  Commissioner Chris Melton then chimed in questioning “How would we pay for it?”  and “What type of long term financial impact on the Town and taxpayers would it have?

July 14, 2008 Resolution – Sam Newell Road

My reply;  What is the cost to resurface E. John Street? Well I like a good challenge so, after another fun filled day at the DOT I was informed that to resurface E. John Street from Trade to Greylock would roughly cost $250.000.00 which is less than the amount we the taxpayers spent for over twenty years in pursuing Town of Matthews v. Wright for well-connected individuals. Did you know in 2015 the Wrights were awarded $74,500.00 for their attorney’s fees? The Town also spent taxpayer dollars over the sign that Premier Plastic Surgery had installed. Oh, let’s not forget the beach trips, Technology Fund, (Commissioner Melton is in his second term and has purchased three so far) the purchase of alcoholic beverages and the list go on. So if we want to talk about financial impact and irresponsible let’s start here.

What is the Powell Bill Program? “The Powell Bill program helps cities and towns pay for the expansion and improvements of much-needed transportation systems in their communities.” Every time you purchase gas a percentage of the taxes goes towards this program. Funds cannot be used on private roads, but the Town has done this. In 2016 the Town received $767,575.16 and from 2006-2016 the Town has received a total of $8,771,786.58 in Powell Bill funds. Instead they are using scare tactics of how the cost would be so astronomical.

What if it was POSSIBLE for the DOT to completely repair and fix E. John Street and then let the Town take the road over? Would you be interested? Well, I was told that the DOT and municipalities negotiate these deals “all the time”. If E. John Street was negotiated this would leave ten years or more before any repairs would be needed. So again, this is POSSIBLE it just comes down to the Town as to who/what is more important. Money or people? Also, I question if the Town really wants to keep the character of the Town. Have you seen the Matthews Downtown Streetscape plan? If not I suggest you do. As a native of Matthews this breaks my heart to see that the old historical charm will be no more.

On June 14th the DOT held a meeting with Town staff. There are currently two new preliminary designs for E. John Street. I had asked to take a photo but they requested that I not since this is still in planning. Homes along E. John are still in jeopardy which is sad for the homeowners. The DOT will give a fair market value but when the Entertainment District is complete the homes in this area property values will increase and I do not think the Town is looking out for them. The DOT is planning a community meeting in late July or August and just so you know, a patching type resurfacing is suppose to take place by November.

With all this being said, according to the NCODT from the end of 2015 to present  approximately $11,000.00 has been spent by the State to maintain E. John Street.  Furthermore, when a street is pulled into the Town’s maintained system the town will receive more funds.  Let’s say,  E. John Street was pulled into the Town maintained system, than why can’t the funds received be set aside for future maintenance?  According to the Powell Bill program “A municipality may accumulate funds without penalty until its balance at the end of the fiscal year equals the total of its most recent ten or twenty allocations, whichever applies.”.  By commercializing downtown Matthews this will destroy the small town charm.  I find it absurd that Mayor Taylor continue’s to say we are doing everything to maintain the character of the Town.  I think he need’s to look up the word “maintain” in the dictionary.

Here, let me help.  From Dictionary.com – maintain: to keep in existence or continuance; preserve; retain

For the residents living along E. John Street, if you feel this Town has your best interest I would like to remind you of Mr. Neubert Purser.  He was the World War II Veteran whose farm was condemned for a park and then the Town denied the condemnation.  Or, the Wright family who fought for over twenty years for their property rights.  But most importantly do not forget how citizens were being sold out by the Town in 2013.

Town Manager Hazen Blodgett Letter

I highly recommend writing the Governor, NCDOT Secretary of Transportation and the North Carolina Board of Transportation (NCBOT) and tell them how your families will be affected.  The the NCBOT is a board of nineteen that have been appointed by the governor and they are the ones who approved project U-4714.  

Governor Cooper – https://governor.nc.gov/contact-governor-cooper

James H. Trogdon III – NCDOT  www.jhtrogden@ncdot.gov

NCBOT –   https://www.ncdot.gov/about/board/bot/members/        

Some Town Spending for Fiscal Year 2016/2017 –  

Planning Conference & Ocean Isle Beach  – Yearly event  2016 – $6,899.06  2017 – $5,616.81   

Planning Conference Receipts 2017

Town Hall Day- This a yearly one day event held by the League of Municipalities in Raleigh –   Grand total $6,338.91 this is split between seven municipalities which comes to $905.55 add gas reimbursement to Commissioner Larry Whitley bringing total for  2017 – $1,079.75.  We actually got to save $450.00 due to a special being offered.  2016 – $1,322.13  

Town Hall Day 2017 Receipts

NC Metro Mayors Coalition –  for 2016 – $8,009.00  2017 – $8,089.00.  From 2014 to present this has cost the taxpayer $28,115.00  

Metro Mayors 2017 billing

Metro Mayors 2015 – 2016 Billing 

Technology Fund – 3,600.00 for each Board member per term.  All items purchased are kept by the Board member. Amount spent so far for the 2016/2017 term is…

Commissioner Whitley – $2,405.61

Commissioner Melton – $2,240.90

Commissioner Miller – $2,157.16

Commissioner Ross – $96.29       

League of Municipalities –  2016 – $23,715.00  amount due by July 25, 2017 – $22,609.00   From 2015 to current total amount $69,029.00  

League of Municipalities billing 2017 

League of Municipalities receipts

Operating Budget Town of Matthews for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 – Operating Budget 2017/2018

HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE JULY 4TH!!!!   Gina Hoover

PLEASE REMEMBER TO SUPPORT MATTHEWS WATCH BY TELLING YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.  THANK YOU.   

 

     

 

  

Whats going on with the church that’s wanting to buy the property?

 

   I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question.  When I first began writing about this I had gotten five pages in and realized there is so much involved that it would take a book to explain it all.  So, in order to help you understand I have tried to break this all down as short and as sweet as possible.  

Ridge Church was planning to expand to a 400 seat 45,000 feet facility with the hope of including the Savour catering property.  Included in this expansion they wanted to purchase 0.3 acres of property where the water tower once stood at 1021 Matthews-Mint Hill Road.  After the removal of the water tower the property was dubbed Matthews’ Stone Hedge. At one time there was talk of a pocket park but the property is too small to do anything with. 

Rendering of future development by Ridge Church

September 12, 2016 Board of Commissioners Meeting –  Ridge Church had submitted a request to purchase the 0.3 acres located at 1021 Matthews-Mint Hill Road.  The property was appraised for $41,600 and would have to go through the upset bid process.  There had been talk by the NCDOT to widen and realign Independence Pointe Parkway (IPP) but according Stuart Basham of the NCDOT this had not been discussed since mid-to-late 2013. Town Manager Hazen Blodgett’s explained that if improvements are made by the church than the NCDOT will have to purchase the land at a higher price and the NCDOT is using taxpayer dollars.  With the property just sitting there some commissioners did not see the need to hold onto the property.  Commissioner Miller noted “the property is doing nothing right now so the Town may as well invest the $41,600 and let the chips fall as they may.”  Commissioner Ross wanted to proceed forward due to the unknown issues of the future development while Commissioner Urban noted they needed to be cautious of the unknown issues.  Commissioner Whitley said the church is moving my faith.  Commissioner Higdon noted the higher price would be paid by all taxpayers of North Carolina not just the citizens of Matthews.  The pastor of Ridge Church spoke stating “they understand the risks and the need to take into consideration what the DOT is proposing and they are willing to work with the DOT in the design of that corner – they have always been willing to do that.”  It was motioned by Commissioner Miller to authorize the sale through the upset bid process which was seconded by Commissioner Urban and was unanimously approved.  Even though Commissioner Melton supported the vote he was apprehensive because he could see problems in 8-10 years.  Mayor Taylor was not present during this meeting.

September 26, 2016 Board of Commissioners Meeting – During this meeting a resolution had to be approved authorizing the upset bid process for the sale of the property.  Mayor Taylor stated “he thinks the sale of the property is a bad move by the Town.  He believed that the Board is looking at the short term view of selling the property and staff had advised strongly against the sale.”   He reviewed the need of the property for the expansion of Independence Pointe Parkway (IPP).  His main worry was that maybe taxpayers would have to pay a higher price in the future if the town sold the property to the NCDOT.  He also felt the resolution was flawed and should be worded better and asked the Board to reconsider the sale of the property or defer approval of the resolution until October 10, 2016.  Discussion continued and it was motioned by Commissioner Whitley to correct the resolution and move forward with the upset bid process.  Commissioner Miller seconded the motion passing 5-2 with Mayor Taylor and Commissioner Melton opposing.

Resolution Authorizing Upset Bid

October 10, 2016 Board of Commissioners Meeting – Discussion of the widening/alignment of IPP began once again.  C.J. O’Neill explained that the widening and alignment of IPP was years away from a final design and that the staff has worked with NCDOT and there is no timeline of the project.  Commissioner Higdon was “perplexed” that this was once again on the agenda and felt the Town should not stop the sell of the property since the process has already begun.  Commissioner Melton raised the concern “that the Board may be making a decision very quickly.”  Once again Mayor Taylor noted that this was a bad idea and that it was a wrong decision to sell the property that has been identified as “needed property” which will cause NCDOT to buy back at a higher price.  Discussion continued and it was decided not to take any action, and the upset bid would continue until October 17, 2016 ending at 5:00pm.

Picture of “possible” alignment of IPP by the NCDOT.

October 24, 2016 Board of Commissioners Meeting –  Once again on the agenda (yes, you guessed it) the purchase of property by Ridge Church.  The pastor spoke once again about the church’s desire to purchase the property and they understood there was a lot to consider, but they were fully committed to working with the Town and NCDOT.   Now that the bidding process has ended the only offer made was by Ridge Church.  They offered exactly what the property was appraised for $41,600.  Commissioner Higdon motioned to accept the bid which was seconded by Commissioner Miller.  Unfortunately, Commissioner Urban made a substitute motion to defer the decision to November 14, 2016.  During this meeting Mayor Taylor noted that two emails had been received from interested parties that were against the sale of the property and that “he will support the motion to defer and will support a future motion to not sell the property as it is not in the best interest of the town to sell the property.”  Commissioner Ross questioned why the deferral and Commissioner Urban stated he was “extremely supportive of the church,” but he still had questions about the technical merits.  Commissioner Higdon stated that no one knew exactly where the alignment for IPP would exactly be.   Commissioner Miller, who made an excellent point, stated “someone is bringing in Wyatt Dixon, the Brigman family, Mr. Brawley and others and feeding information to Mr. Urban to campaign against this.”   It was then motioned to defer to November 14, 2016 passing 5-2 Mayor Taylor and Commissioners Higdon, Ross, Urban and Melton in favor Commissioner Miller and Whitley opposed.     

Property owners letter & email of disagreement    

November 14, 2016 Board of Commissioners Meeting – During this meeting Mayor Taylor noted that work had been done to protect the interest of the Town and Ridge Church.  Commissioner Urban even noted there was a lot of miscommunication and no one on the Board was a villain.  In order for the Town to move forward and agree to approve the bid a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  was required by the Town.  Commissioner Higdon was not in favor of the MOU and stated “the verbiage change doesn’t alter the legalities of the MOU but that the uncertainly issue relating to the future road alignment was why he voted for the sale in the first place.”   In the MOU it noted the property as “being in the path” he wanted to change the word to say “possibly” since it was not clear where the alignment was going.  The motion to accept the bid and authorize Mayor Taylor to sign the MOU with no revisions passed 6-1 with Commissioner Higdon in opposition.

Town of Matthews MOU Agreement

Commissioner Higdon email

December 12, 2016 Board of Commissioners Meeting –  Now that the bid has been accepted and Ridge Church owned the land they were requesting a zoning change from B-H(CD) & B-1 to B-1(CD) for the former water tower property.  According to Mayor Taylor due to the newspaper not properly publicizing the zoning application for the February 13, 2017 Board of Commissioners meeting the zoning vote had to be rescheduled to March 13, 2017.

March 13, 2017 Board of Commissioners Meeting – Zoning application 2016-654 Ridge Church Ministries was up again for discussion.  This meeting has now become a discussion of parking spaces, ingress, egress, storm water, retention ponds, saving trees, sidewalks, utility lines, building materials, decorative blocks and the list goes on.  Oh and yes, once again the issue of the possible widening/alignment of Independence Pointe Parkway.  According to the NCDOT the design of the IPP project will be a design-build which means there will be no design until the right-of-way acquisition.   All this information would then to be presented to the Planning Board and back again to the Board of Commissioners for a final decision on April 10, 2017.    

April 10, 2017 Board of Commissioners Meeting – Ms. Dement of the Planning Board began to explain that  four members were in favor for approval and three were against.  She also stated “One significant issue was in relation to taxes – the loss of tax value with the decrease of taxable property for the catering business and the applicants’ disinterest in surrendering their tax exempt status.  A motion was made to recommend denial, but that motion failed and no substitute motions were made.”  Mayor Taylor questioned why this happened and disapproved of the Planning Boards actions.  Commissioner Miller motioned to approve the rezoning which was seconded by Commissioner Higdon.  Commissioner Urban felt the architectural standards were incomplete so Commissioner Miller amended his motion to include the latest revised renderings which Commissioner Higdon seconded.  Commissioner Melton was not ready to support the application due to the Planning Boards’s default of the recommendation.  In the end the motion passed 5-2 with Commissioners Higdon, Miller, Ross, Whitley and Urban in favor.  Mayor Taylor and Commissioner Melton opposed.

HALLELUJAH!!!!!!

MY OPINION –  As I said, I have been asked many times what was going on but just like everyone else I was just as confused.  To sell or not to sell, that was the question.  The one thing I have learned when dealing with Matthews there is always more going on than is being disclosed.  The more the public is kept in the dark the better.  The only thought I had was, who owns the property across the street?  So with my trusty computer I quickly learned there is approximately 124 acres that connects to the Sportsplex.  You see, there is hope of including this with the future Entertainment District so by approving the sale of the property this could affect the property owners plans for development.  If IPP is to continue as one complete straight road than it will have to shift in order to avoid the power lines owned by Duke Power.  I have been informed that if the church makes the improvements this could (maybe) affect the alignment or even delay the road itself.  Furthermore, the property was publicly for sale so anyone had the right to offer a bid by October 17, 2016 and for Mayor Taylor to express the concern of the property owners disapproving the sale during the October 24th BOC meeting is now irrelevant.  I have no problem of someone wanting to develop or sell their property, but just because someone has an established name here in Matthews does not give them top priority over anyone else in my book.

Property owners letter & email of disagreement    

Polaris Maps

It was also argued by the Mayor and Town Manager that when and if needed the NCDOT would use taxpayer dollars to purchase the property back at a higher price.  Give me a break.   Mayor Taylor currently receives an annual salary of $15,750.00 plus $3,900.00 annually.  That’s a total of  $19,650.00 making him one of the highest paid mayors for a part-time position.  He also receives a technology allowance of $3,600.00. It was $3,500.00 but last year the Mayor and Commissioners approved an increase.  Town Manager Hazen Blodgett currently receives a annual salary of $135,000.00.  He also receives a $350.00 monthly car and $85.00 monthly cell phone allowance.  Not to mention insurance and retirement plan.  Excluding one or two years he has received an increase every year since 2003.  When he first came to Matthews in 2003 he even received a temporary mortgage expense of $843.00 for twelve months.  I believe in paying someone for what they are worth but how much more does one need?    So, it is pretty hard to believe there is a genuine concern for the citizens of Matthews when they have no problem lining their pockets.

Due to the delay after delay, not to mention all the drama, apparently members of the church began to wonder what the heck was going on.  Why was the church being put through all this?  So, the pastor sent a special message to the members of the church explaining what they had been through.  Now, from what I can see our Town Clerk forwarded the letter to Commissioner Melton, who then forwarded to Mayor Taylor and the conversation went like this.

November 7th @2:47pm  Commissioner Melton “it is my understanding that this document was distributed to the congregation of Ridge Church last Friday, November 4.”    Which did not sit well with Mayor Taylor @3:10pm he responded with “Thanks, You should share this with Urban as well.  This shows me that Mr. Brown is intentionally distributing incorrect information to his church in an effort to gain support and pressure an emotional vote by council.  The more I see from this guy the less I trust him.  To me, he has sealed his own fate in my mind.  JPT”   Commissioner Melton did forward to Commissioner Urban and responded to Mayor Taylor. “Done.”  Commissioner Urban then responded @ 4:23pm with “Well that wasn’t very nice.”  Which ended with Commissioner Melton @ 4:57pm staying “nope”.  Commissioner Urban then forwarded to Kress Query who’s not even a commissioner. Wait a minute, What?  What does Kress Query have to do with this?  After Mayor Taylor and Commissioners Melton and Urban had finished their dirty little circle of  gossip the letter was eventually shared with all the Commissioners, note how he included Mayor Taylor and Commissioner Urban.  It was then learned by the church that Commissioner Melton had received a copy of the email and a meeting was offered to address any concerns.  Mayor Taylor’s response was “I’d love to walk in on that meeting and see him say those things to my face.  I doubt he has the nerve to do that.”  Commissioner Melton responded with “I’m your huckleberry”.  Unbelievable, this is our leadership?  Again, only Commissioner Urban was included with this email exchange which has granted them the naming of the Three CORRUPT-kateers.

Melton – Taylor – Urban email

Commissioner Chris Melton & Mayor Taylor email

Commissioner John Urban email

Commissioner Melton’s email to everyone     

Do you not find it appalling that here in Matthews we have leaders who behave in such a manner?  Remember Commissioner Urban stating he was “extremely supportive of the church”?  Well in a email to Mayor Taylor he had a different opinion.  As for his “villain” statement, sorry, I beg to differ.  In the end the church made an apology for the letter but so far I have seen no apology made to the church for the statements made by Mayor Taylor and Commissioners Melton and Urban.  

Commissioner Urban email  

Lastly, once again Mayor Taylor has included a private email account.  After the Town of Matthews v. Wright deception you would think he would have learned his lesson.  No, not Mayor Taylor during email exchanges he forwarded emails to his Wells Fargo account.  Now what would be the purpose of this?  I do not know, but a public records request has been made.  It’s time to drain the dirty little pond here in Matthews.  

Emails sent to Well Fargo Account

I’m sorry this posting is so long, but hey you just can’t make this stuff up. Thanks for reading 

Taylor emails – 10

NCCOA opinion 4-21-2015

As always please remember to support MATTHEWS WATCH by telling your friends and neighbors.  Thank you.    

 

 

   

 

 

          

 

 

 

               

               

 

 

 

 

WHAT ARE THE ODDS & A FEW QUESTIONS

Town of Matthews Transparency

I had planned a different posting for this month but I was out and about one day introducing myself and handing out cards when I came upon a gentleman getting out of his car.  I introduced myself and asked him if he would like a MATTHEWS WATCH card.  He then looked at me and replied that he had seen my website information on the back of my car before.  He went on further explaining that he did pull up MATTHEWS WATCH and had read every article that I had posted and noted that he had no idea that this was going on within the Town of Matthews.   A conversation ensued and he asked me why I do this.  I began to explain that I am a firm believer in open and honest government and when our local government is as transparent as a glass of muddy water it is our duty as citizens to hold those elected accountable.  As our conversation ended he thanked me and encouraged me to keep up the good work.

At times I have wondered and asked myself if this website was making a difference but after speaking with this gentleman I feel all of my questions were answered.  Yes, people are being informed and learning about issues within our community.  Yes, this website is making a difference.  So I would like to say THANK YOU to this gentlemen for all the kind words.  It was so nice to meet and talk with you.  I would also like to say THANK YOU to the citizens of Matthews who have helped in informing others of MATTHEWS WATCH.  What were the odds of meeting this guy?  I have no idea, but I do believe it was meant to be.

Answering a few question – my opinion –

In your posting of East John Street you explained who said what during the town meetings.  How do you know this?  Why did you not post the Facebook remarks?  I have certified audio DVD’s.  I did not post the Facebook remarks because this is a group discussion.  I think one citizen said it best concerning Mayor Taylor’s responses.   “Just a footnote- I did not like the tone with which Mayor Taylor used in responding to A-???? comments last evening.  He was elected by the citizens of Matthews and is suppose to work for the citizens of Matthews and no matter how many time’s we suggest, say, tell and question the Board re. the total idea of NO SUPERSTREET to NCDOT is no reason for him to have an attitude.  He was totally disrespectful to her in my opinion.”  Kudo’s to this citizen, spot on!  *Note – I left out the name’s for their privacy.   Copy of Certified BOC DVD’s

Hi, did you read the article in MMHW by the mayor?  What did you think?  I found it quite humorous.  It took citizens banding together and speaking up before the Mayor and Commissioners really got involved.  I noticed he stated “explore all options to save homes”, funny how in 2013 a request was made to the NCDOT to do a study to “eliminate” homes along the north side of East John Street.  In my view this article is typical politician BS, smoke and mirrors. 

 Town Manager Hazen Blodgett Letter   

Why haven’t I read about the articles you have posted in our local community newspaper?  I cannot answer that, but I can say I have informed the owner, current and past editors of certain postings and there was no response which is no surprise when we all know how bias media can be.

In the MMHW there was an article stating that Commissioner Whitley wanted to push a road project, do you know what road?  Not sure of the road they are referring to but I am aware of Commissioner Whitley wanting to widen Crestdale which is the road his church is on.  If this road truly needs repairs than his request needs to be acknowledged.

How much has been spent from the Technology Fund?    So far for fiscal year 2016/2017 an amount of $6899.96 has been spent.   Do not forget they gave themselves an increase last year.  They now have $3,600.00 each to spend on themselves.  They have until this December to submit all receipts for reimbursement so until then I do not have a complete total.  This is an election year so I’m willing to bet they will not submit their receipts until after the November election.  This is all public record and has to be approved during the Board meetings.  You can find the information listed on the agenda and the actual receipts within the packet.

Commissioner Whitley – 2,405.61

Commissioner Melton – 2,240.90

Commissioner Miller – 2,157.16

Commissioner Ross – 96.29

Lastly, it has been suggested that citizens call the Mayor and Commissioners to discuss any concerns they may have about East John Street.  Because phone conversations can be forgotten and denied I highly suggest and encourage you to consider using email.  There is a history in this town of elected officials lying and denying the facts, this way you will have documentation in hand and there can be no lying or denying of what was said or promised.   

Don’t forget to return next month, I think you will find the June posting very interesting.  Again, Thank you and please remember to support MATTHEWS WATCH by telling your friends and neighbors. 

 

NCDOT PROJECT U-4714 – SUPER STREET/EAST JOHN STREET WIDENING

Constitution of the United States of America – 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.

Currently the hot topic here in Matthews is the Super Street/East John Street Widening by the NCDOT.  Citizens have posted their feelings and opinions which were responded by Mayor Taylor and Commissioner Melton on a Facebook page when they disagreed.  So I would like to take a moment and opine.

Within the Township of Matthews the North Carolina DOT is planning to widen East John Street all the way into Union County beyond Sun Valley High School running approximately 6.5 miles long.  So as you read this posting keep in mind the statements made by Mayor Jim Taylor.    

We have been told that the council was not aware of this “super street” until last fall and according to Mayor Taylor in a Facebook post he stated “we have opposed the Superstreet concept since it was first suggested by the NCDOT”   and  “Make no mistake, Matthews Town Council is opposed to the current design”  and he continues to state we areadamantly opposed”.

The decision to widen East John Street was not made over night.  It takes years of planning by the NCDOT.  The Town of Matthews has known of the widening proposal for more than fifteen years as Mayor Taylor stated again in a Facebook post “This has also been a long time project of DOT and documented for more than 15 years”.  In 2013, a project team from the NCDOT held a three day event which was known as a design charrette.  They were seeking input for the design and considering other alternatives for this project.  From August 27, 2013 thru August 29, 2013 our elected officials, Town Manager and Department heads attended this three day event.  In attendance was….. 

August 27th Commissioner Jeff Miller

August 28th Public Works Director CJ O’Neill Commissioner John Urban Commissioner John Higdon 

August 29th Commissioner John Higdon Town Manager Hazen Blodgett Public Works Director CJ O’Neill,  

Design Charrette Attendance Sheet 

U-4714 Design Charrette

 In a article written in September 2013 within the Union County Weekly, Commissioner John Urban is quoted as saying “In all of our conversations, (the Matthews Board has) seen (the project) as a tree-lined street.  The thing I would encourage is I would put a no vote if there was no median there.  We don’t want that situation that looks like a highway.”

Union County Weekly Article 

According to the NCDOT they also held quarterly meetings with our Town Officials, planning/engineering department and Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) to discuss the planning and design for this project.  On January 21, 2014 the NCDOT held a special meeting at South Piedmont Community College and all local officials of all municipalities involved were invited.  It was also cc’d to our Town Manager Hazen Blodgett, Planning Director Kathi Ingrish and former Public Works Director Ralph Messera who attended this meeting.  

NCDOT Invitation Letter to Town Officials

In 2014 two meetings were held concerning the super street.  One was on June 9th the other on September 8th.  Now I believe in giving credit were credit is due so, during the June meeting Mayor Taylor did ask the NCDOT representative if it was “possible” for the Town Board to declare the project as too impactful and be ended.  He also questioned if the DOT could tunnel underneath Trade Street, but this is where it stopped.  The only commissioner who made it clear from the start was Commissioner Higdon.  He stated “that none of the depicted options were acceptable, saying that the Independence Boulevard look is not desired in the historic district.”    

June 9, 2014 BOC meeting

September 8, 2014 BOC meeting 

On April 25, 2016 another Special Board of Commissioners meeting was held and Mayor Taylor’s concerns were how much impact would the Town Board/Staff or future Town Board have in the decision making of East John Street and stated that the Town would maintain the aesthetics’s because it needed to be aesthetically pleasing.  This is a state maintained road which our state taxes cover so why would our local taxes be used?    Commissioner Miller asked if the Greenway access was in the way and if the the road could lean more to the left.  He also stated “I like the concept a lot” and he preferred the multi-use plan.  Commissioner Ross did not like the bulbouts and again Commissioner Higdon was the only one who stood his ground stating this would have a negative impact on the Town.

April 25, 2016 BOC meeting

April 25, 2016 NCDOT Presentation   

On September 26, 2016 the Board once again held a Special Board of Commissioners meeting concerning the project and the NCDOT noted that this was the sixth meeting talking with Town Officials.  Again Commissioner Hidgon made it clear that this will destroy the character of the Town and was not in favor at all.  He went further and stated that “I don’t think we need another Independence Boulevard running through Matthews.”  Commissioner Miller questioned the cross sections of East John Street and Trade and spoke about left turns lanes in each direction.  Again, he stated “I support two lanes going in each direction”.  Mayor Taylor had no problem with the lane count, although he was concerned with a signalized intersection at the future Greylock Ridge Road.  He even made it a point to say when intersection’s are signalized this makes property values go up.  I found this interesting because property that is located along East John Street is owned by a well-connected individual of the Town.  Commissioner Urban did not have a issue with moving traffic at a high speed, he could see four lanes if it created a scale of character for the Town.  Commissioner Ross thought that once all of the “in flight” projects are done property values would be a lot higher than now.  And, with the future entertainment district and Sportsplex in full swing and with the Greylock Ridge Road/485 project going, all of these things will come together and change the whole dynamic of this corridor.  Again, excluding Commissioner Higdon no one spoke in opposition.

September 26, 2016 BOC meeting

September 26, 2016 NCDOT Presentation

When the Monroe By-pass was first proposed my home was on the list to be taken.  So I understand the heartbreak when the DOT tells you they will be taking your home.  With this being said, to the citizens who have been informed they will be losing their home’s I must warn you of what I am about to share, this is going to sting.  On May 24, 2013 in a letter written by Town Manager Hazen Blodgett to the NCDOT he has “complied a list of concerns” for the super street/widening.  I found concern number seventeen on page two very disturbing.  It states “study alternatives to right-of-way being evenly widened on each side of the roadway, specifically in Segment A where single family houses front both sides; an option would be to push the widening to the north side and eliminate the existing individual small homes which are already close to the street, allowing future redevelopment of the residual land as an assembled site, possibly coordinated with land to its rear.”  In other words, let’s do a study to eliminate the homes along East John Street because we would like to possibly develop the land.  This letter was also presented during the 2017 Planning Conference but you will not find it listed within the Planning Conference packet, I wonder why?  It should have been posted after page fourteen, in fact none of the documents that were presented by Mr. O’Neill are even posted.

http://www.matthewsnc.gov/files/documents/BoardofCommissionersPacket02-23-17093816022717AM1315.pdf

Town Manager Hazen Blodgett Letter

So I ask you, is this a leadership in opposition?  I find it very hard to believe the Mayor and Commissioners have opposed the super street from the very beginning as we all have been told.  Excluding Commissioner Higdon no one has made a verbal stand and even within the Town minutes it does not show the Mayor and Commissioner’s have been “opposed” to the super street from the start.  They want us to believe they are looking out for our best interest so this very important piece of information would have been included wouldn’t you think?  Yes, there have been questions of, is it possible or could we, but that was the end of it.  For more than fifteen years our Town Officials have known of the DOT plans and in 2013 a design charrette was held.  This was the perfect opportunity to educate and inform the citizens in order to stop the super street if they were truly opposed, not spending the last three years planning and designing.  Then there is the Town Manager’s letter.   Unbelievable, what can you even say to that?  The odds are pretty good that the Mayor and Commissioners are fully aware of the Town’s study concern’s.  Now that the decision has come down to the wire and citizens of Matthews have organized in order to stop the super street the Mayor and Commissioner’s are claiming they have “opposed” and always have.  Funny how things turn out that way when its an election year.   

This is a State owned road so the final decision will fall upon the NCDOT.  To the citizens who will be affected, to condemn property there must be a public purpose.  Unfortunately the NCDOT is currently holding all the cards and the odds of wining are slim.   I would recommend all property owners affected to band together and hire a attorney.  I know of two really good ones, you can just shoot me a email on that.  When the right-of-way acquisitions begin the more you know the better prepared you will be.  There has also been a concern of the houses being moved back.  IF my memory serves me correct and IF there is enough land the houses can be moved and this cost could be absorbed by the NCDOT.  This would have been something that could have been negotiated by the Town of Matthews when the super street was first presented.  I know this has been done in Charlotte.  You have the right to speak up and protect your family and home.  Do not be bullied or intimidated, this is a tactic that is used.  Do not drink the “kool aid” that is currently being served.  

Preserving the character of the Town has always been discussed and the NCDOT has always agreed and was willing to work with the Town on that.  This has always been a done deal.  What should have been top priority was protecting the families and their homes along East John Street, not requesting a study to eliminate them.  If the super street can be decreased in size from Charles Buckley Way into Matthews, then why couldn’t the road be decreased in size a little further down in order to save as many homes along East John Street?  If their homes were on-the-line I bet the outcome would have been different, but that’s just my view.  

Do not fall victim of being used for political gain.  This Town has a history of dishonesty when it comes to condemnation so I encourage you to read postings for  June 2, 2014, May 2, 2015 and April 1, 2014. 

April 21, 2015 NCCOA opinion

Mayor Taylor Emails

RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING CONDEMNATION

Purser Closed Session Minutes

 

THANK YOU AND PLEASE REMEMBER TO SUPPORT MATTHEWS WATCH BY TELLING YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.