For those not following the recent election for Wake County Commission chairman, you can read one media account here and watch another one here. Once you get the media’s take on what is going on read the below email from the new Chairman, Tony Gurley (R). It should be noted that the other main actor in this drama, Betty Lou Ward (D), has been a county commissioner for over 20 years.
His email does a good job in explaining how everything is not as it seems when it comes to politics and governing.
The facts are very simple, after one hour of voting, and 14 deadlocked votes, Ms. Ward motioned for a break. The County Clerk presiding at the beginning of meeting (until a Chair is selected) asked for a vote and the break was denied with a 3-3 vote. We have never taken a break after just one hour of meeting.
Ms. Ward then left the room unexcused. Lindy Brown (Dem.) asked the attorney about the consequences of Ms. Ward’s absence. The attorney basically said the voting should continue. The only item on our agenda at that time was selection of the Chair and the Clerk presiding had no power to do anything but continue the voting. I was elected with a 3-2 actual vote and Ms. Ward’s vote was technically assigned to me since an unexcused absence results in a vote in the affirmative for any motion made.
The gamesmanship is not so simple…… Ms. Ward came to the meeting with only 2 or 3 votes. For whatever reason, Mr. Webb did not participate by phone and he has not requested a temporary replacement (both viable options on our Board). When Ms. Ward saw the 3-3 deadlock, she left the room and had her vote recorded for me. Then, the Dems spent the next 11 1/2 hours deadlocking the vice-chair selection portion of the meeting to assure that the meeting would be recessed. Mr. Coble took pity on Mr. Norwalk’s claim that he needed to go home for an insulin shot at 2:30am and motioned for the meeting to recess until 10:00am on Wednesday.
The political ploy was revealed when our meeting reconvened at 10:00am on Wednesday. Ms. Ward’s first statement was a “Motion to reconsider the vote for Chairman” since she now had Mr. Webb on the phone and now had her 4 votes for Chairman. Her reasoning was that since her vote was recorded for me, she had the right to ask for reconsideration. And since the Monday meeting was recessed, the Wednesday meeting was a continuation of the first meeting in December. We are required by Statute to elect a Chairman during the first meeting in December.
Their plan would have worked, except that I ruled her motion as “out of order” for various reasons. The major reason being that we had completed the business items on Monday’s agenda and many third parties had received vested interests in those agenda items. To allow reconsideration would render the previous vote “null” and therefore the motion was “out of order”.
The County Attorney supported my decision with 4 or 5 additional reasons for ruling the motion “out of order”.
We then went to the selection of Vice-Chair and Ms. Ward took that position with a 4-3 vote in about 5 minutes. She would have won the vote for Chairman in the same time if Mr. Webb had been on the phone Monday.
This was a planned event. During the meeting, Mr. Norwalk was constantly communicating with Mr. Jack Nichols, Chairman of the Wake County Democrat Party. Along with Ms. Ward, they planned this to try to embarrass the Republican commissioners since all 3 GOP commissioners are up for reelection in 2010.
They are not alone in this effort. The News & Observer ran very misleading stories and Ruth Sheehan of the N&O will not return my phone call. The TV reports also do not represent the story properly and they are not interested in reporting something that takes more than 10 seconds to explain.
The other Democrat on our Board (Ms. Brown) stated publicly in our Wednesday meeting that she was aware of the political posturing by Mr. Norwalk and Ms. Ward.
NOW MY OPINION — For whatever reason, Mr. Webb refused to participate in the Monday meeting resulting in a 3-3 deadlock. Only Ms. Ward, Mr. Norwalk, and Ms. Brown would have known that he wasn’t going to participate. Ms. Ward concocted her plan to have the meeting recessed and was able to convince Mr. Webb to come to her rescue. Unfortunately for her, her plan was flawed and she was not able to undo the previous election of Chair although she was able to muster a great deal of political advantage through newspaper and television coverage
Chairman, Wake County Board of Commissioners