• 55°

County commissioners, ABC board clash over records request

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
County commissioners canceled a presentation by the Rowan-Kannapolis ABC board Monday night after a top official refused to provide reports requested by a commissioner.
Commissioners voted unanimously to delay the ABC board’s presentation until it complies with a request from Commissioner Tina Hall for detailed reports on salaries, bonuses, raises and credit card statements for the past two years.
Hall said the board’s refusal raises questions.
Commissioners agreed earlier this month to listen to the ABC board’s explanation of its operations and lack of profits for distribution to the county and municipalities.
Gus Andrews, a member of the ABC board and a former chairman of the Board of Commissioners, blasted county officials for their stance.
Andrews spoke during a public comment period, saying commissioners’ decision was “very questionable.” He said the board had its “total composite” presentation on the ABC operation ready. He again rebuffed a call for bringing in an outside group to do an efficiency study.
“You voted not to listen,” Andrews said, adding that he totally disapproved of commissioners’ action.
Carl Ford, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, reminded Andrews twice that he had exceeded the three-minute limit for public speakers. Finally, Ford stopped Andrews, who got in a few last words: “We may not be here in two weeks.”
Ford said later he hated to stop Andrews but that everyone has to comply with the three-minute limit.
On May 12, acting on behalf of Hall, Carolyn Athey, clerk to the Board of Commissioners, sent an e-mail to Osborne requesting the information and asking that it be provided prior to the meeting Monday.
Initially, Osborne said the material would be provided later in the week.
According to e-mails released by the county, Osborne told Athey on Monday afternoon that he could not provide the information until instructed to do so by his board. Osborne also noted it was not part of the original request and was made by only one commissioner.
Shortly thereafter, commissioners obtained an opinion from County Attorney Jay Dees, who said the information requested is a public record and that Osborne, not the ABC board, is the custodian of the information.
“Refusal to provide the records by the board raises other questions,” wrote Dees. He went on to spell out potential legal action in which the person requesting the information could ask a Rowan County superior court judge to order the records disclosed.
Hall asked for the following:
– Current salary of each ABC employee;
– How much, if any, bonuses were paid to ABC employees in the past two years and how much, if any, pay increases were provided to ABC employees in the past two years;
– Who, if anyone, at the ABC office, including board members, has been issued credit cards, along with detailed copies of credit card statements for the past two years.
At the outset of the meeting, when commissioners set their agenda, Hall raised the issue of the ABC board’s failure to provide the information. She noted the county board has previously delayed presentations when information hasn’t been provided.
Commissioner Chad Mitchell suggested commissioners go ahead and hear the presentation on the lack of profits and the issue of an efficiency study.
Hall replied that without the documents requested, the board wouldn’t have complete information.
“We have a right to see these,” Hall said.
Hall made the motion to delete the presentation from the agenda, giving the ABC board more time to comply. Ford seconded the motion.
On the voice vote, Ford and Hall spoke out. Mitchell, Vice Chairman Jon Barber and Raymond Coltrain remained silent, which means they were counted as “yes” votes, making the decision unanimous.
In addition to Andrews speaking during public comment, another former county commissioner weighed in.
Jim Sides, who routinely sits on the front row at meetings of the commissioners since losing his re-election bid in November, spoke out for the first time.
Sides said he requested similar information when he was a commissioner and didn’t get it.
Sides wondered aloud how a business that sells $7 million a year in alcohol can produce such a small profit.
Sides, an avowed opponent of alcohol, said if the county is going to sell alcohol, the county should get the profits.
The ABC board, Chairman Marney Hendrick, Ken Argo and Andrews, as well as Ralph Ketner, the Food Lion co-founder who is an advisor to the ABC board, left the meeting room and could be heard in the hallway outside.
Kannapolis Mayor Bob Misenheimer and City Manager Mike Legg attended the meeting and also left as the ABC group departed.
Ford briefly recessed the meeting to give time for the hall noise to diminish.
Commissioners also agreed to advertise an upcoming vacancy on the ABC board along with some other vacancies.
Andrews’ term ends July 31.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.

Comments

Comments closed.

Business

With remote expansion, outsource provider FCR looks to become an ‘exceptional part’ of Rowan community

Local

City expects $1.5 million surplus in current budget, ability to raise some wages for police, public works

Education

Enochville Elementary to host farewell event May 1

High School

High school softball: Carson beats West in a wild one

College

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will speak at NC State graduation

High School

Wonders, Trojans facing off Monday on Cannon Ballers’ field

Local

City approves two apartment developments, more than 160 new units

Nation/World

Crowds react with joy, wariness to verdict in Floyd’s death

News

Bill seeks to end pistol purchase permits from NC sheriffs

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 300th death attributed to COVID-19

News

Chauvin convicted on all counts in George Floyd’s death

Local

Top North Carolina House finance chair, Rowan representative stripped of position

Crime

One charged, another hospitalized in fight between cousins

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park

Local

City to vote on apartment developments, final phases of Grants Creek Greenway project

High School

High school football: North receiver McArthur a rising star

Columnists

Carl Blankenship: Pollen and prejudice make their return

News

Harris pitches $2.3T spending plan on trip to North Carolina

Nation/World

Murder case against ex-cop in Floyd’s death goes to the jury

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Man takes deputies on chase with stolen moped

Coronavirus

Afternoon, evening COVID-19 vaccination clinic planned Thursday