Will Back Room Deals Result in Borrowing Millions for a New Jail?
We have not been able to detect any political solidarity within the five Republican Commissioners in selecting a Chairman since the Republican Caucus met on Thursday, November 12th. The Caucus decided to present to the entire Board of Commissioners Stan Deatherage for Chairman and Randy Walker for Vice-Chairman.
Frankie Waters and John Rebholz refused to participate. It is likely both were heavily influenced by the County Manager, Brian Alligood, and the attorney, David Francisco not to attend. It is unusual, and inappropriate, for the Manger and the Attorney to become politically active in the selection of the Board Officers. Normally hired County employees are discouraged from actively and openly participating in political activities. We were not aware that the Manager and the Attorney were Republicans. However, their status is uncertain since they asked the two Democrats on the Board of County Commissioners to vote on whether or not to have a Republican caucus. The vote was four to zero (The other three commissioners were not contacted). That is Waters, Evans, Langley and Booth voted not to have a Republican Caucus.
Both the Manager and the Attorney are hired directly by the Board of Commissioners. Strange things happen in this modern political world.
This is where the new jail comes into play. Waters, Rebholz, Langley and Booth have given support for the new Jail. Therefore, we see a big possibility, if Langley and Booth join the liberal Republicans to pick the Chairman and/or Vice Chairman, another back room deal has been made. Langley and Booth are not going to vote for Republicans unless they get something really big. We predict these four would work toward building a new jail in Beaufort County. Remember, Jerry Langley once said: "that jail is gonna be built, whether the people want it or not."
Recently the Sheriff has flip flopped from his campaign promise that he would use whatever jail the County Commissioners provided. He now wants to build a new jail and has enlisted the apparent support of Chief Superior Court Judge, Wayland Sermons. Sermons sent a strong signal in his most recent "order." He kept judicial control over the jail and stated it was not in compliance but failed to specify which state standards are not in compliance. Since then. the State of North Carolina, as recently as two months ago, reported the jail to be in compliance with State law and applicable standards.
The Beaufort County Republican Party has a hot potato on its hands if the two Democrats vote for either Waters or Rebholz against the wishes of the of the Republican Beaufort County Commissioner Caucus. There is even a bigger problem if these four set off down the yellow brick road to build a new jail.
There is nothing new about Republicans joining with Democrats to further a cause. Look at the National scene, with the Bush family, the John McCain family, the poor job Thom Tillas did in the the US Senate and the cowardly job Senator Burr did during the four years of the Trump Administration. But that does not make it right.
The Bush family worked against Trump in the 2020 elections. So did the McCain family and now they may be appointed to positions in the Biden administration. Tillis voted with Trump on key issues only when both arms were twisted. Senator Burr never did very much to help Trump as chairman of his Senate Intelligence Committee. There is no honor in holding your nose and voting Republican.
Conservative Republicans must stand up for themselves. The liberal Republicans literally have no place to go unless they want to become Socialist and Communists by locking arms with the Democrat Party.
The voters voted for those who ran a Republicans and that means that most people want conservative county government. While it may be usual for Republicans to sell out on their principles the fact is that it is wrong, and the people deserve better. Each commissioner is elected to represent the people, not their own feelings.
The Beaufort County Better Government Committee (BGC) has studied the jail situation more than any other group and has consistently championed a referendum to allow the people to vote on whether to borrow money for a new jail. It strongly opposed the prior move to borrow millions without a vote of the people. We believe that is the correct position for every commissioner to take.
Another issue is where a new jail would be built. The BGC has also suggested that a vote of the people should include whether a new jail should be built away from the courthouse. We believe that is a correct position too. Let the people decide. After all they will be the ones who have to pay the bill.
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