Commissioners spar over appointments
By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 7, 2014 10:34 PM
Committee appointments, particularly to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, continue to inflame emotions among Wayne County commissioners.
Even last week's attempt to discuss the appointment procedure ended in row, causing Chairman Wayne Aycock to intervene by saying he will name a new appointment committee next month in an effort to end what at times has been terse and partisan squabbling.
Commissioner Joe Daughtery said he takes pride in the fact that the board works well together and even when a disagreement arises, board members generally work well together -- except when it comes down to appointing people to boards and commissions.
"We can approve budget amends," Daughtery said. "We can build schools. We can do a whole lot of things. But it just seems like it is a constant problem there. I would ask that the chairman review the makeup of the appointment committee and let's find a way to stop quivering over some of these appointments."
But before Daughtery could make a motion, Aycock announced the formation of the new committee.
The latest round of arguments appeared to be a continuation of a May 20 clash over ABC Board appointments and questioning of the appointment procedure.
Discussion of the procedure was added to the agenda during the 8 a.m. agenda briefing.
Currently, the appointment committee, made up of Commissioners Ray Mayo, Bill Pate and John Bell and Chairman Wayne Aycock, meets at 7:30 a.m. on board meeting days and commissioners vote on the committee's recommendations during the regular meeting.
Commissioner Ed Cromartie, who first questioned the procedure last month, suggested that it might be best to make the appointment at one meeting and vote at the next.
His motion to table Tuesday's appointments until after the discussion on the procedure failed 4-2. Bell and Cromartie, both Democrats, voted yes.
"I was going to wait until the normal meeting, but I am going to bring it up now," Bell said during the briefing. "If you want to discuss it that is fine, if not, then move on. In the appointment committee meeting this morning I was told by the (committee) chairman that I was causing problems because I was asking questions. I thought that was unfair and unnecessary."
Bell said that he had questioned Mayo as to why he wanted to bring back David Meador, who served previously on the ABC Board for nine years, in order to replace Linda Jones, the only woman on the board.
"He told me that they (Republicans) won," Bell said. "I thought that was unprofessional, to tell a sitting commissioner that they won and they will do what they want to do."
Bell said he had been on the board for 14 years and had never asked the political affiliation of anyone appointed to a board.
The entire ABC Board as of next month will be 100 percent Republican thanks to the way Mayo has been putting people on boards and taking people off, Bell said.
Party shouldn't matter and commissioners shouldn't be playing politics on the board, he said.
Mayo told Bell he was blaming him as chairman, but that was not the issue. Mayo said he is one of three on the committee and when there are two votes together, "What is the problem?"
"Yes, you didn't know the party affiliation, Mr. Bell, because most of your friends are Democrats and most of mine are Republicans. So we put on there who we know," Mayo said. "Therefore you don't have any idea. The mix is the way it is. I can't do anything about it."
Mayo also said Bell's comments were not "totally in context."
A Republican, Mayo said he has been on the committee for two and a half years, including one year as a member of the minority party.
Mayo said he worked with the committee then without causing any "big issues."
The problem is that the committee now has a different "avenue and outlook" because of the change made in the board by the public vote, he said.
"The issue is that we are going to pick people to the best of our knowledge to put on," Mayo said. "But in the appointment committee meeting when things are said that are not professional, as Mr. Bell says, and things do get a little bit hot, I take offense to it to a certain degree because I was very personable in the year I served as a minority."
There should be changes, he said. Commissioners do not need to leave people on a committee just because they have been on it for "50 years," Mayo said.
"The citizens of Wayne County voted for change and that includes the appointments," he said.
Bell said he believed it was embarrassing for Mayo to make those comments.
"Any commissioner on this board is authorized to ask questions on any committee, or any time that we are in a meeting," he said. "It should not be embarrassing to any commissioner because one commissioner from a different party may ask question, and that is what he is referring to.
"He has made this thing completely political. I don't care who elected him to the board. This is a board of commissioners that works for all of the citizens of Wayne County, not just the Republican Party."
Aycock said it did not make any difference to him whether the votes were taken the same day as the nominations or not, but that the issue needed to be clarified.
Regardless of when the vote is taken, commissioners will still have to do their due diligence, Mayo said. If they fail to do so, the outcome will be the same, he said.
Pate, who is also a Republican, agreed.
"Also, any commissioner can make their own motion," Mayo said. "Just because it comes from the appointment committee doesn't mean a commissioner doesn't have the right to make a motion."
Daughtery said he hopes the board can iron out its differences on the issue.
"I think we owe it to the entire board that we find a way to make appointments without a lot of quibbling," he said. "I hate to see that it causes division from reaching out and doing the hard work that is the essence of finding people to serve on boards and commissions."