More on the Gang of Four
Power sharing and cliques in government are important. Honest elected and appointed officials do not need or benefit from these groups. Those who join and participate in these are, at best unethical and at worst illegal, arrangements have one characteristic is common. They believe themselves and their ideas are far superior to all others. Two examples are the groups who forced the building of the US 17 bypass on the west side of Washington, and the insiders who torpedoed the hospital in Belhaven and gave away the Beaufort Hospital. Such is the “Gang of Four”.
During mid 2021 the Gang of Four decided that the Beaufort County web site needed to be replaced. They were asked, on more than one occasion, to present the reasons for replacement. They presented no reason to replace the site. They proceeded to invite companies to present proposals to replace the web site. The website was working fine without problems.
It became very apparent during the replacement process that they were out to punish their fellow Commissioner, Stan Deatherage.
Commissioner Deatherage owns a company that builds web sites. During the time he was not a Commissioner, he obtained a contract to produce the Beaufort County Government website for public use. Later he was again elected Commissioner.
There is a North Carolina General Statute that says Commissioners may provide certain services in counties with less than 50,000 population. Beaufort County has a population of 47,000. Commissioner Deatherage inquired as to whether or not he would be in conflict with the law if he were to bid. He was told that he would be allowed to bid and make a proposal. Deatherage also consulted the North Carolina Institute of Government. They did not see a problem with Deatherage bidding.
When the bids were opened, Commissioner Deatherage was the low bidder with about $14,000. The next low bid of about $34,000 from a company in the mid west.
The Gang of Four (Commissioners Frankie Waters, John Rebholz, Jerry Langley and Ed Booth) sprang into action. They declared that Deatherage had no right to bid, that he was violating the law. The County Attorney suddenly became highly engaged, saying Deatherage had violated the law and used language, in an open meeting, relating to criminal behavior. Keep in mind that Deatherage had queried the Board for permission to bid, without hearing any objection from the County attorney or the majority of the Board.
Then came a series of events that were very similar to the false claims made in Washington DC about Donald J. Trump. The County Attorney produced writings that purported to show that Deatherage could not bid. These were attested to by John Rebholz, who professed to have read the statutes and agreed with the County Attorney. What these wise guys had done was to take a lot of law out of context, and arranged it to suit their purposes. None of what they asserted was true.
This started as an effort to punish Commissioner Deatherage and wound up as a smear campaign. It was the only defense Frankie Waters, John Rebholz, Jerry Langley and Ed Booth had. They were not about to award the contract to Deatherage. Deatherage was making them look really bad since he was the low bidder. He was saving the county a lot of money (at least $20,000 plus significant annual maintenance fees).
Deatherage consulted the North Carolina Attorney General as to the legality of his bid. For some reason the County Government became involved with the Attorney General’s office.
The Attorney General’s office produced, not a ruling and not an opinion. It is a rambling that gives in one paragraph and takes away in the next. The County Attorney distributed it to all commissioners. Remarkably, Frankie Waters felt compelled to have this letter read into the minutes at the January Commissioner’s meeting. Just how useless this document is was presented in the closing paragraph as follows: “Please note this is not an opinion of the AG’s office, formal or otherwise. It has not been reviewed and approved in accordance with procedures for issuing a formal Attorney General’s Opinion.” Further the letter is not signed. It’s salutation is: “Sincerely, Constituent Services, North Carolina Department of Justice”.
The part of the law Rebholz is trying to apply to Deatherage has to do with the construction of buildings. Deatherage’s issue is providing services which is addressed in a different part of the law.
Also, the County obtained a transcript of the conversation (4 pages) Commissioner Deatherage had with the Attorney General’s office. That was presented with the useless letter.
My conclusion is the Attorney General’s office made a follow up call to Beaufort County which alerted the Gang of Four to their problem. They dispatched the County Attorney who designed the spin.
The Attorney General has done his office a dis-service. If elected officials cannot make inquiries without that information being fed back to the people the official is inquiring about, the Attorney General can expect very few inquiries from elected officials. Maybe the Attorney General just does not want to be bothered. Or maybe he is doing favors for his Democrat buddies.
This is not Frankie Waters' first involvement in using government employees to do bad things. He was a part of the sending of the Building Inspector to Belhaven to condemn the Belhaven Hospital building. It was discovered the building inspector could not condemn the building but the Judge in Raleigh had already used the false information to allow the destruction of the hospital. Frankie Waters is a big reason why there is not a hospital in Belhaven.
The Gang of Four is composed of two Democrats and two Republicans. There are five Republicans on the Board. Why the Republican Party will support this kind of behavior is a puzzle to me.
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