Declaration of Co-Dependency Rowan County, N.C. Style

Posted on January 4, 2017

Todd Paris, Staff Writer and Salisbury Attorney

♦ “Codependency; noun: co-dependency:

excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.”

On January 3, 2016 Salisbury City Council voted to “adopt” Rowan County Commission Chair Greg Edd’s “Declaration of Interdependency.” Kenny Hardin, alone, cast the sole nay vote. My title was suggested by a local political figure as an alleged joke, however upon review it may have had a deeper meaning. A copy of this public record is attached as an addendum. Read the link below:

At first glance this tome appears to be little more than local jingoism or the sort of propaganda spewed forth from a chamber of commerce to “promote development” or part of the litany of a long forgotten secret fraternal society. However, there are disturbing features that should give the thinking reader pause.

“We will not behave in ways reasonable people would consider deceitful or dishonest.”

“We are dedicated to building an inclusive region with people who value diverse viewpoints. We are committed to crossing organizational, ethnic, social and political boundaries.”

“We agree to disclose any personal or professional conflicts of interest that may compromise our objectivity and damage the trust others have in us.”

“Resolve controversy’s quickly and privately whenever possible.”

“Concentrate on outcomes, not activities.”

Who defines what “reasonable people” are? Perhaps if an elected official or their spouse owns shares in a limited liability corporation (LLC) that owns shares in and LLC that is about to receive public money would and a “reasonable person” consider that dishonest? Under state law, we can’t find out who owns shares in an LLC. Why not a county ordinance or state law that requires elected officials to disclose such investments?

Regionalism – Sounds good, however City and Town Councils are elected to look after the needs of the residents of that particular community. In 1953, President Eisenhower nominated GM’s CEO Charles “Engine Charlie” Wilson to be Secretary of Defense. During his confirmation hearings he was asked if he could make a decision detrimental to GM. His response was “that he could not conceive of such a situation “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

What’s good for Salisbury may not be good for Faith, or surrounding the communities. For instance, closing Faith Elementary and domino busing elementary school children into Salisbury might improve scores for Salisbury, but leaving Faith with a Dunbar clean-up site and hundreds of fleeing families might not. Another example is the fact that Salisbury, in contravention of contract between both cities, used Spencer residents’ water bill to prop up failing Fibrant.

Town and city boards are responsible to their citizens and should not be expected to sublimate their constituent’s needs to the “greater good” of other municipalities, the county or the region. To do so, violates their oath of office.

The resolution of controversies “quietly” is the most disturbing idea of all. The idea that instead of public debate and discourse among local elected officials that this should be sublimated to system of private meetings, text messages, emails and back door agreements is anathema to the idea of American democracy and possibly illegal. (Kudos to Kenny Hardin, by the way.)

When “public bodies” meet (two or more elected officials of a board or commission) it has to be public. Secret emails and text messages between more than two elected officials on the same board or commission are arguably illegal and maybe contrary to the letter and spirit of the law. Read more about it!

Ever wonder why it seems that the commission or council seems to have already made up their minds before they ever vote and that public comment seem an exercise in futility?

The concentration on “outcome” rather that “activities” is troublesome as well. I guess spending 600K in tax money on “clown signs” on the interstate or 500K on a rebranding effort are mere “activities.” We just need to go along and focus on the “outcomes,” I guess?

In the end, this declaration, if it has any real meaning, will allow our beloved chairman Edds the moral authority to “call down” any dissenting city or town leaders anywhere in the whole county for violating this declaration for: public dissent at meetings, not keeping secrets he deems important and not keeping the spirit of regionalism – as he defines it.

Go back and read the definition of “codependency” now. The addiction is power.

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