Too Many Hidden Agendas Hindering Progress
"Truth is treason in the empire of lies. "I think the quote is apropos when describing the current mindset of most elected officials in Lumberton. It seems that truth is shunned. Months ago, Mayor Winston went on a tirade saying this blog was preventing Lumberton from getting business but somehow, despite this blog, the City of Lumberton was selected by the Army Corp of Engineers for a possible grant. Just a few weeks ago, this board spot zoned a sect of land for a business that's allegedly looking to open in Lumberton. Personally, I think it was a calculated move by Winston to get the land rezoned so his "business associate" can charge more for the land but we will have to wait and see. The only business people that are frightened by the things I uncover in this blog are the ones with questionable business practices like Richard Rose and John Shavers. When these modern day snake oil salesmen come to Lumbeton promising miraculous outcomes, I simply Google their names and find the red flags that should have been detected by the city administration. At this point, it's difficult to determine when we took a wrong turn on the road of progress but the elected officials can't continue to put their heads in the sand while blaming their faults on those that actually take a few moments to research the names placed on the agenda.
One of Lumberton's problems is the blame game. Each administration likes to blame the previous administration instead of getting an audit, reviewing the budget and make better decisions. However, many of these suggestions are hindered when the city clerk lacks profiency when it comes to her duties. I know there are a lot of people that were not pleased with the previous board but we had a fully staffed police department, a fire department that responded to all emergency calls and a clerk that knew how to use BBI. There were some dark moments during with the last board but thankfully, we survived. One would think after the Hideous Reign of Hobson, the citizens of Lumberton would know that elections have consequences. Sadly, most of the people elected in Lumberton are in office based on a combination of popularity and apathy. Less than 35% of registered voters participated in the last election and people wonder why our city is in such bad shape. Unfortunately, almost every elected official currently serving has an agenda and it does not include the progression of Lumberton.
To this day, I don't know Jay McGraw's agenda. After getting elected during a special election, McGraw was a rambunctious representative that didn't shy away from challenging the motives of The Oreo Trio (Bobby Gibson, Kent Crider and Timothy Johnson). Fast forward to another administration, with another mayor, McGraw went from a maverick to becoming an essential part of a voting block that I call The Reverse Oreo (Jay McGraw, Tommy Dukes and Kent Crider). For the last 12 years, the City of Lumberton has been goverened by a block of three votes and that's one of the reasons why our city continues to falter; a lack of unity. Unless we get on one accord, this house will continue to fall.
Kent Crider's agenda is to have contol over the fire department. He's not concerned that members of the LVFD are not responding to calls or the fact that a decreased fire rating will cause insurance rates for every homeowner in Lumberton to increase. At this point, it seems that Crider's main focus is to keep Jerry Walters off the fire department. Sadly, the citizens suffer because of this alleged agenda. The final token in the Reverse Oreo Trio is Tommy Dukes. Based on his presence at the meetings and his advancement in Winston's economic development group, Dukes is literally in Ben's pocket. Dukes vote for anything supported by Winston. Whenever Winston wants his hinchmen to fall in line, he belts out his favorite phrase, "we only need three votes." At a recent meeting, Dukes wanted to know about taxes from Azalea Gardens Apartments and Winston told Dukes not to worry about that and like an obedient puppy on a very short leash, Dukes tucked his tail and went to his figurative corner.
Alderwoman at Large Cora Rogers also has an agenda; she wants to be mayor. She has her own voice but it's easy to see that she has other plans. It's my belief that she's hoping Winston gets elected as supervisor so she can fill his spot. Little does she know, if Ben is somehow able to convince enough voters to vote for him again, she would be mayor for a few weeks. At some point, a special election would be held to select a new mayor. Of course these are just speculations but there's a reason why everyone is not on the same page. The only person without an agenda, other than doing what's best for Lumberton, is Quincy Rogers. Hopefully, they will learn to use the wisdom Quincy acquired during his years of service to get Lumberton back on track. We all know Winston's agenda, aside from spot zoning, unofficially hiring embattled former city managers to prepare budgets and disregarding laws governing code charter municipalities, is to get back into that County office. He's not fiscally resposible with our little budget, what makes him think anyone would consider him a good steward over a larger budget. Besides, he's not willing to put the best in charge of day to day activities and there's no indication he's planning on improving.