Happy 100 Days of Non-Compliance | Eastern North Carolina Now

Today marks 100 days of the Washington Housing Authority refusal to comply with mandatory Freedom of Information Act request.

Happy 100 Day Anniversary for Non-Compliance

   It is written that the Buddha once spoke the words "Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth." Congratulations to the Washington Housing Authority on their 100 day anniversary of stonewalling my Freedom of Information Act request demanding receipts on the trips taken by the Authority, who went on these trips and what they spent money on since the City Council voted to give them $580,000 out of the General Fund. In those 100 days, the sun and the moon have shown themselves but certainly not the truth.

   Here's what we do know. Alice Sadler, the Mayor's wife, is the Chairperson of the Washington Housing Authority which is an appointed position. The conflict of interest in this fact alone is alarming but this is the tip of the iceberg. We also know that Council Member Brooks bought two lots from the Housing Authority after making a motion to move the $580,000 out of the General Fund over to the Housing Authority and then sold it back the Housing Authority for a profit. We know that the city subsequently forgave the taxes accrued on these properties. We know that after the $580,000 dollars was given to the Washington Housing Authority that as many as 9 trips were taken by the Housing Authority to such locations as Los Angeles, Denver, Savannah, and Tampa.

   Here's what we don't know. We have no idea where any of the $580,000 given to the Authority went. We have no idea if spouses, including the mayor, went on these trips on the taxpayers dime and how much they spent on these trips. We have no idea why an elected Council Member was allowed to purchase two lots using money that he made a motion to move out of the General Fund and into the Housing Authority and then allowed to sell it back for a profit. Is something nefarious going on? We don't know because no answer at all is forthcoming from the Washington Housing Authority.

   Today a voter at the polls questioned Mayor Sadler about this and about the conflict of interest of his wife serving as the Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners for the Washington Housing Authority. His excuse was that there was no conflict of interest since another City Council Member had nominated her. I interjected at which time the mayor launched into a string of expletives towards me not fit to print. Now I have a thick skin and I'm not easily intimidated so I could care less about his apparent short fuse. But the fact that he thinks its appropriate for his spouse to serve as the Chairperson of a group that the City of Washington is handing $580,000 over to while another Council Member that is part of his slate of candidates profits off the transactions and then fails to comply with a mandatory Freedom of Information Act Request is troublesome. As the saying goes “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

   This election is not about me. It's not about Mayor Sadler. It's not about Councilman Brooks. It's about the rule of law and transparency in government. No one has the right to refuse to keep from the public what they have spent $580,000 of taxpayer dollars on, including the Mayor and his Wife. Representative Keith Kidwell's Office as well as Senator Jim Perry's office have already reached out to the Washington Housing Authority urging them to comply with the law but apparently they feel no compulsion to comply.

   Election Day is November 7th and Early Voting is all next week from 8 AM til 5 PM and next Saturday from 8 AM til 3 PM. Let the Mayor and the candidates for City Council know they aren't above the law. And Happy 100 Day Anniversary of Non-Compliance to the Washington Housing Authority.
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( November 5th, 2023 @ 7:44 am )
Gary, there is some point at which you can file a lawsuit to get that information. That lawsuit needs to be filed. This stonewalling by government officials is unconscionable. They are wasting our tax money and should not be allowed to cover that up.
( November 4th, 2023 @ 11:19 pm )
Since the publishing of the article, it is now 107 days that the Housing Authority has not complied with the mandatory Freedom of Information Act request.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 9:08 pm )
I'll tell everyone one thing ... if elected I'm going to insist on a public hearing on how they have spent the money the city gave them and how they are using public funds. Also going to insist on a vote on my anti-nepotism ordinance to forbid the appointment of kin to boards by while family members are serving as elected officials. The public ethical lapses here are staggering and the cover-up of not releasing the receipts and where the money is spent is obscene. If there's no wrong-doing ... COMPLY with the mandatory request.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 3:20 pm )
To reiterate one more time, this FOIA request should be honored as soon as possible to remove this claimed cloud against the City of Washington government.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 1:51 pm )
The money that the Sadler camp put into this project represents $60 for every man, woman, and child in Washington, or $300 for a family of 5. No wonder the Sadlerites hit us with a 12% tax increase to pay for corrupt boondoggles like this one.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 1:46 pm )
Kary: (Not Knowing the Situation) Still that one is pretty simple. If you know that the money came from the public, then you have to be very careful in entering into a future transaction that could be considered a benefit to the politician.

Because of certain limitations to Beaufort County, as a small county, there is a small county exemption due to certain conditions for conflicts of interest, allowing people in business /government to do business with their government. It is not complicated; however, it is proved to be complicated for certain parties in Beaufort County that I will not mention at this time ... still, once again, the general statutes are clear, and the issue is NOT complicated.

Begging for recusal by a politician, who could be perceived to benefit, is a big part of what keeps this issue a simple one.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 1:44 pm )
The very purpose of the city "loaning" (there appear to be no documents that one would normally expect on a real loan) that money to the Housing authority was to buy those two substandard lots from Brooks and build houses on them. That is Conflict of interest with a capital "C".
Kary said:
( October 31st, 2023 @ 1:19 pm )
What should he have recused himself for? At the point the motion was made to loan the money, he hadn't sold the property to anyone. He was just a Council Member who owned property.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 1:33 pm )
Exactly, John Steed, in your second paragraph, which is almost exactly what I experienced, and yes, exactly, it is ultimately the responsibility of the politician enriched, and to a lesser extent, the other board members and staff are not completely absolved of some liability in any matter of this kind, depending on their position in the issue.

In these issues, being stupid is NOT a defense. In fact, I would argue that the Stupid Defense does not work for any of the parties in a conflict of interest issue.

Once again, I would like to reiterate: This is why all public dealings, where the public's issues are dealt with must be done in public, preferably recorded for posterity by camera.

In government: "Sunshine is the greatest disinfectant."
( October 31st, 2023 @ 1:06 pm )
When a public official recognizes they have a conflict of interest, they have a responsibility to recuse themselves whether anyone else demands it or not. A Hyde County commissioner found that out the hard way when he was prosecuted for not recusing himself. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the government body you serve on is appropriating money to buy property from someone one that body that consitutes a conflict of interest for the public official involved. I keep hearing that Brooks can barely read or write but that is no excuse for this conflict of interest. Yes, he should at minimum give the money he received back.

Stan, I think your point is that if an elected official asks the board to recuse him, and they fail to do that, then even if they abstain, it will be counted as a yes vote. However, almost always when a public official states a conflict of interest, public bodies will allow them to stand aside on that vote. The failure of the public official to note his conflict of interest is an unethical act.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 11:45 am )
There always has to be a request for recusal, not necessarily a recusal.

If it was me, and it has been me on occasion, I have always requested a recusal, actually I have argued for it when I did not feel comfortable.

And in every case, there was a huge public need that no one else could provide, nowhere in this region, not just Beaufort County, and that is proved.

Maybe this why, I have to believe that red flag discussions must have been held in public. There has to be minutes to that effect; video is always better.
( October 31st, 2023 @ 11:41 am )
Nailed it Stan. Should have been a recusal.
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