12/30/04 — Consolation? Other counties share problems like Wayne’s

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Consolation? Other counties share problems like Wayne’s

Check out this headline:

“Clay asks for ‘new era of cooperation’ between boards.”

And this one:

“Magistrates caught in limbo. Clerk, judge feud over nominations.”

Sound familiar?

Change the names where needed, and those same stories might appear in the News-Argus in reference to situations in Wayne County.

Actually, though, the first headline is from the News-Times in Morehead City and refers to the Carteret County Board of Commissioners and Carteret’s school board.

The other one is from the News & Observer of Raleigh and refers to Wake County.

In Wayne, as in Carteret, there have been problems between the school board and the commissioners. The two Wayne County boards recently held their first joint meeting in years to discuss them.

The chairman of the commissioners in Carteret, Linda Clay, went to a school board meeting and, like any other citizen, spoke to the board during its public-comment period. She called for members of each board to make a commitment to a better relationship. Afterward, she sat down with the school board chairman and schools superintendent to schedule a joint meeting.

There has been controversy in Wayne because the chief resident Superior Court judge, Jerry Braswell, has personally sought applications for the position of magistrate. By law, the clerk of court nominates magistrates and the judge appoints them unless he deems that the clerk’s nominees are not qualified.

Braswell has rejected Clerk of Court Marshall Minchew’s nominees, and some of the judge’s appointees have not worked out very well. One withdrew because she was unqualified. Another resigned during his term and was arrested shortly afterward on charges of cocaine possession. Now Braswell is reported to have asked the magistrates to apply directly to him if they want to be reappointed, bypassing Minchew.

In Wake County, Judge Donald Stephens has decided to retain two magistrates whose terms expired, despite the fact that the clerk of court, Jan Pueschel, did not nominate them.

Such controversy at the local level, where we are all relatively close neighbors, is unsettling.

Maybe we can learn something by keeping an eye on the way other counties handle these situations. Anyhow, it seems to help to learn that we aren’t the only ones who have the problems.

Published in Editorials on December 30, 2004 11:09 AM