01/04/12 — Commission appointment named; GOP protests pick for association

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Commission appointment named; GOP protests pick for association

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 4, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County Republican Party Chairman Bob Jackson admonished county commissioners Tuesday for what he said appears to be appointments based on politics, while Republican Commissioner Steve Keen called for board unity.

Jackson made his comments following two votes, both down party lines, for commissioners to appoint one of their number to North Carolina's Eastern Region.

Commissioner J.D. Evans nominated Commissioner Jack Best for the appointment. However, before a vote could be taken, Keen nominated fellow Republican Commissioner Ray Mayo.

Keen's motion was defeated 2-5 with Keen and Mayo casting "yes" votes. Evans' motion was approved 5-2, with Keen and Mayo voting no.

Jackson said that he, like Keen, was disappointed that the appointment did not go to Mayo who has been in business in Wayne County for many years.

"He certainly has a lot to offer to that group," Jackson said. "Inasmuch that Mr. (former commissioner Andy) Anderson filled that position before he was released, one would think that he would be asked to serve in that capacity, but he was not."

"I usually do not address people when they make public comments," Commission Chairman John Bell said. "But this has nothing to do with Mr. Mayo or Mr. Anderson. We make the changes and appoint people as we see the need in the best interest of Wayne County. We do not look at it as being Republican or Democrat. I wouldn't have even known what Mr. Mayo was if he hadn't told me.

"Please don't think that we are up here making political assignments in these committees. I spent almost three hours going over appointments, which is one of my duties that I have as commissioner chairman. I just don't want you to think that we didn't appoint him because he is a Republican. It has nothing to do with that."

Jackson told Bell that while he could appreciate that, all it takes is one look at the total number of committees that commissioners serve on to find "by far that the majority is one party."

Later in the meeting, Keen said a lot is going on in Raleigh, that times are changing and that funding is not as readily available as it was in the past.

"We have to earn it instead of just expect it," he said. "There are just a lot of things that are at this table this year and not just out there in the county for people to sign up and vote.

"We do have representation on the Military Growth Task Force, PlanIt EAST (an Eastern Region committee). We have a lot of representation from some individuals on this board, but we need more chips at the table. We need more representation. As times change from Raleigh we need to be available to that. This side of (Interstate) 95 is crucial -- 61 percent of the power is on the other side. We need representation on this side. We need chips at the table."

Keen said he realizes it is an election year, but added that he would like to see a more unified board this year.

"I do know the needs of the people of Wayne County," Keen said. "I am out there every day. I hope that this board will do that this year for the people of Wayne County."

Jackson also took the board to task for the county's four-day workweek. Because of the scheduling, most county offices were closed for most of the week between Christmas and New Year's.

"You probably saw the paper last week, county offices closed for the week," Jackson said. "My first thought was what do those people who need those county offices during that week do?

"I certainly would understand one day's vacation paid, but it is hard to understand. Even if things were good, it would be hard to understand, but especially with the things the way they are, there are a lot of taxpayers in Wayne County who wonder why it was necessary to give a large number of county employees a week paid to be off.

"I question the benefits of the four-day workweek. I have not seen the benefits that were promised. I would suggest that we review that discussion and look at going to a five-day work week to service the people of Wayne County."

County Manager Lee Smith indicated that the four-day week, instituted several years ago, would be among the topics discussed when commissioners hold a two-day planning retreat next month.