Winton YOU Have a Problem
The first agenda item was to allow Jason Hickman to speak to the board regarding fair housing resolution, MBE/WBE goals resolution, code of conduct resolution, excessive force resolution, alternative signature resolution with transmittal letter for a CDBG grant. The board will vote to approve these requests at the next regular scheduled board meeting. Next on 4he agenda was to allow Mr. John Shavers to address the board regarding storing government equipment in the City of Lumberton. When I saw his name on the agenda, and it showed a list of lawsuits including JESCO and J5 Global. I didn't say anything because I wanted to make sure it was the same person. When Shavers addressed the board, he mentioned his company, J5 Global. It was then that I knew he was the one suing and getting sued by most of the companies he worked with. It amazes me that no one on the board uses Google to check the band crooks/embattled former city managers they welcome into Lumberton with open arms but they manage to follow the Lumberton Informer. Shavers claims that the equipment will be stored. According to Jay McGraw, the equipment will be stored at tbe Cooper Building. The reason the City of Lumberton is applying for Hub Zone Municipality is to facilitate this business venture but there was no business proposal submitted (a major reason for disbanding the planning and zoning committee). Winston said it was an opportunity for Lumberton but it seems like an opportunity for Winston. Shavers is supposed to get paid to haul the equipment, an account will be opened for the payout but nothing was said about hiring locally or a hiring process. So, how is this supposed to benefit Lumberton? I am almost certain that Shavers is someone Winston met when he was hauling those FEMA trailers in and out of Lumberton. Do you remember how much Lumberton made from the destruction of their streets; nothing? Winston, who wad serving as District 2 Supervisor at the time, hired the Shiyou Law Firm to represent him and allegedly threatened to sue to keep from paying city taxes on the sales made. Lindsey Carter, city attorney, advised the board and the planning and zoning committee to let the matter alone because a District Supervisor might withold support if sued by a city they represent; so the matter was dropped because we didn't have an attorney willing to fight for the city. But it was a win-win for Ben, he got to fatten his pockets and still didn't do anything for Lumberton while serving as supervisor.
Despite the red flags going up while Shavers was addressing the board, I was frowing after he said the equipment could be used by tne fire department as well or as he stated, " any department with the ability to make arrests." Would someone please tell me when the fire department was endowed with the authority to make arrests? It's just another sign of a person that's willing to break the law. Why is Ben always hitching his wagon to alleged criminals? I guess the old saying is correct, birds of a feather, flock together. In essence, Shavers said he would serve as the administrator since he's a small business with revenue of 2 billion dollars but he will work under the City of Lumberton Hub Zone application. Do you see a problem yet? Well, the program Shavers is talking about is 1033 Grant. According to the Department of Defense, the application process is as follows:The Chief or Sheriff of the agency must complete and sign an application. Once this application has been approved, the Department of Defense Law Enforcement Support Office will issue a screening authorization letter to the local Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA) to screen excess property via the Defense Reutilization Marketing Services internet site where the DRMO's post their inventory. When an agency receives property through the 1033 Program, the Chief or Sheriff will be held accountable for the inventory and see the property obtained through this program is used within the guidelines of the program. Random site visits may be made by the Department of Public Safety to ensure proper use and inventory of property received. So, please explain how Shavers is going to serve as administrator of the grant? Are there plans to make him Chief of Police? The grant states that tbe equipment is to be used. Why does the agenda refer to the process as storing government equipment? In my opinion, Kathleen Bogle hit the nail on tne head when she said it was a "scam."
Another problem is the Hub Zone application. Alderwoman at Large stated that this application was for small businesses not municipalities. Winston growled at the fact that she actually researched the matter and said that's why we have a city attorney. Please note, Carter was not in attendance and if he wad there, he'd probably side with Winston and not the law. McGraw, Crider and Dukes voted to go forward with this questionable business venture. Cora Rogers asked to review the paperwork before it was submitted, either Dukes or Winston said that wasn't necessary because she has one vote. I can go back and watch the tape and get the exact phrase but I don't have time now. Regardless of who made the statement, it was wrong. Yes, C. Rogers has one vote but she serves as the voice for all wards. To dismiss her concern for clarity by saying she's one person is tantamount to saying all the residents of Lumberton do not matter because she represents us all as the Alderwoman at Large. Winston said he will be handling the application not the city clerk; another red flag. Next on the agenda, tne board granted an extension to C.D. Johnson for removal of trees from the parcel of land purchased by the City of Lumberton. The board went into executive session and afterwards started the budget workshop.
Winston suggested using a spreadsheet to keep up with the budget before getting sidetracked by the questions I posed. Winston again felt the need to blame the blog for the city's woes. As I stated, I'm going to continue to blog and challenge every underhanded deal Winston tries to bring to the table. It's super easy to Google, why are these people not vetted before bringing them to our city; the one you say you love so dearly. According to Winston, Merlene said that no one wants to come help with tne budget because they don't want to be torn apart in the blog. First of all, the city clerk has held that position for 2 years, if she don't know how to prepare a budget, she should have enough self respect to step down so a qualified person can be hired to do the job. But clearly, that's not happening. Instead, she rather lie and make excuses. Just the other month, she said she never received budgetary training but last night she said her training was interrupted because there were so many distractions in the office. Merlene were you lying then or are you lying now? Both instances are recorded and stored on a jump drive but you can view them for yourself on the Lumberton Informer Facebook page. It seems that Merlene does not want training, she want someone to do the job for her. Could someone get me a copy of the BBI training manual? I'll post the instructions for operating a $13,000/year software program on the blog; that way, we will know she's reading the manuals because she's spends a lot of time reading my work and not adequately doing hers. Therein lies the problem. I know there are those that think I'm too harsh on the old lady but I don't have time to coddle anyone not wearing diapers. She's an adult and it's shameful that she does not have enough integrity to say I don't know what I'm doing. I don't call it bashing when I'm telling the truth and I'm too heavy to walk on eggshells.
The board has decided to send Merlene back to training so we can actually know what's in the budget. The training will cost $50/hour for two, eight hour days of training; totaling $800 for the training and probably another $400 for mileage, hotel room and per diem. It's costly, but after February, 2015, we shouldn't have anymore complaints about what's in the budget. I don't know if she realizes it or not, but they're eliminating her excuses. If we have the same problems after this, the next step needs to be eliminating Merlene from the City of Lumberton's payroll. Personally, I think 2 years was a sufficient amount of time to realize how inept she is but the board apparently feels the city needs to invest more time and money into this money pit. Since Merlene is getting trained, again, I will give her a pass on the fact that she has yet to process my two requests for information; actually it was three requests but I only have copies of two that she signed and stamped in 2014. I guess she's been too busy to give me the paperwork I requested in a timely fashion. Winston can continue to complain about tbe blog, the same blog he tried to pay to keep silent when he took office as mayor but after 90 days, I told him my blog wasn't for sale; especially not for the miniscule amount he was offering. He says the blog is hurting Lumberton but I get requests evey week to put this or that on tne blog. It seems that legitimate business men and women love the added exposure which probably explains why Winston is so bothered.