Todd Paris, Staff Writer and Salisbury Attorney
♦ “Holy Cow, who are these people!” Greg Edds’s discredited “Clown Signs” were added to tomorrow’s consent agenda for Rowan County Commission Meeting.
First this is how it works: The Chairman of the County Commission (Greg Edds) is allowed to place things on a “consent agenda.” Coates Canons defines a consent agenda as:
“A consent agenda is used for board approval of matters that do not require individual consideration or discussion. Matters are listed and voted on as a group, and the single vote constitutes legal action on each matter. The board has authority to vote this way. Any individual board member may request that the item be removed from the consent agenda for separate discussion and vote.”
“Item K” in this consent agenda is “Survey proposal for I-85 Southbound Gateway Sign.”
The devil is in the details or in this case the consent agenda. Typically, there is a motion to approve the consent agenda, it is seconded and approved and all those little hidden things are approved with no discussion or additional vote. They are employed by chairs to get things approved with zero discussion.
This would comport with Edd’s “Declaration of Codependency” which mandates that signatory boards resolve controversies “quietly.” Edd’s consent agenda runs 11 items, not including sub items and is, as our President might say, “Uge.” You can see it all here.
Initially, Edd’s Clown sign idea was “kind of approved” based upon his assurances that it would all be paid for by private donations and funds. Public ridicule of the idea in that it looks like a public toilet at Colonial Williamsburg, humorous reporting here in Rowan Free Press, and even a “Mook” cartoon in local print media, were thought by many to be enough to kill this road-side eyesore. For those of us who thought this project dead – surprise!
Sources within the county tell us that, unlike the cat expansion to the animal shelter where $1M of donated money was required to be placed into escrow before the project was initiated, that not one dime has arrived in escrow or county coffers that were pledged to this “roadside abortion.” The county commission is just preparing to spend thousands in tax dollar money on a survey to start a project which Edds said would be completely paid for by private donations. What’s up with that, Greg?
The only saving feature is that any one member of the commission can move to “remove” this from the consent agenda and subject the matter to debate. In a perfect world, there would be a motion made to table this project until sufficient funds arrived in escrow to fund the entire project or better yet to abandon it all together and prevent Rowan County from becoming the laughingstock of I-85. However, since Klusman and Greene typically are assumed to be automatic “yes” votes for our beloved chairman and powerless to his will, total abandonment seems unlikely. Perhaps a hero will arise from the far ends of the Dais to at least slow down this debacle.
A legal question does arise. Surveyors fall outside state law that requires a bidding process for hiring. While this is true, North Carolina’s “Mini-Brooks Act” G.S. 143-64.31 requires surveyors to go through the QBS which is a procurement process that focuses on the qualifications of potential firms rather than low bids by competitive bidding. This can be a lengthy process. If Edd’s “clown sign” indicates a specific surveyor that has not been through QBS on this project, then the Board’s action may be… ta- dah… illegal! Read more about it:
Consent agendas can be good things to move small non-controversial items that are just “doing business.” When they are used to resolve controversies “quietly,” they run contrary to the ideals of republican democracy that our state and nation were founded on.
Here’s the real rub. If Edd’s starts wasting tax dollars on this thing and the supposed donations never materialize, and he builds it anyway, he can just add a little “budget amendment” to a future consent agenda and then the Commission’s “hands are tied.” What are you going to do, breach contract with the contractors and get sued? Tax-payers then will “foot the bill” for some, or all, of this supposedly “privately funded” project after the common media has “moved on” to something new.
This is exactly what happened with Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander’s “All-America Cities” junket last year that was initially announced in the common media as to be paid for by private donations. It didn’t earn near enough private donations and the tax-payers “ate” the difference.
A word to members of municipal councils and county commissions is needed. You should beware any member who comes to you with a pet project “to be paid for by private donations.” You should also beware of your chair’s additions to the consent agenda. It may be a “pig in the poke.” Make sure the privately donated funds are in escrow or walk. Someone might be watching for that budget amendment “down the road.” I know Rowan Free Press will.
Chairman Greg Edd’s Proposed Entry Signs for I-85’s Entrances into Rowan County. Latest Rebranding Effort Drawing Snickers: