The Company You Keep

Over 3,000 years ago, King Solomon wrote "Faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." A true friend will tell you unpleasant truths. Apparently, Ben Winston's business partner, Paul Ockmond, is not a true friend. Now, he probably think he's a true friend but after his threat filled rant on the Lumberton Informer Facebook page, I wonder if he's even a true Christian. There's a saying, "you know a man by the company he keeps." The more Paul Ockmond speaks, the more he reveal about Ben Winston's character, or lack thereof. After the Sunday downpour, I checked my phone and there was an alert that a comment was posted on a post from last week. I clicked on the message and it was from Paul Ockmond.
I responded to Paul, asking him if he wanted to clarify his statement because it was filled with contradictions. For instance, he referred to me as evil but then said I had God-given talents. As I pointed out to Paul, light and darkness cannot dwell together. Paul wanted to explain that Ben Winston didn't hold any officer position with the LEDC. Ockmond wanted to make it clear that Winston was just the person signing the incorporation papers but didn't explain why Ben listed Paul Ockmond's business address as his physical address. Paul tried to turn my inquiry into a racial matter by asking if there was a problem with a black and white person being business partners. What caught my attention was the veiled threat at the end of his post when he said if this was 20 years ago, I wouldn't be writing about him. I then responded to Paul and told him he can set his mental clock back to 1995 and bust a move. I also joked about how thankful I was that it was raining and I didn't have to worry about him burning a cross in my yard.

Paul is another example of what's wrong with Lumberton. He's Ben Winston's business partner, friend and fellow clergy member but he didn't hesitate to serve up a healthy dose of innuendo about what he would have done to me if tnis was 20 years ago. He's probably been in a lot of churches with black and white congregants but he still think he's living in the past, where he can put a black man in his place. Be careful Paul, your hood is showing and your biblical principles are fading in the distance. Then again, the Klan did think they were servants of God. One thing I'll give Paul, he's a bold little man. His friend Ben Winston is afraid to voice his displeasure of my blog publically, but he'll bravely discuss me and my blog during executive session.

Apparently miffed by my response, Paul went from a veiled threat to seemingly wishing for my death. I had to give him something he's obviously not familar with: scriptures. Paul may wish or even pray for my death but Psalms 91:16 assures me that "with long life I will satisfy Him and show forth my salvation." Paul Ockmond is trying to support his friend by wishing death on me. What a pathetic little man but he's Ben Winston's friend. It just shows that in Lumberton they will let anyone in the pulpit and into politics. Paul said that the position he was given when Ben Winston was supervisor was a voluntary position but I recall the department had a $30,000 budget cut while Paul was serving. He may not received a salary but I'm sure he had some sort of stipend or compensation. I don't have tbe information now, but I'm sure the records at the County office will reveal the truth.

Paul Ockmond said I told half-truths and attempted to call me out for not saying anything about Ben Winston and Jay McGraw securing a grant and matching funds for Lumberton. Well, I cannot report things not discussed at the meetings. I rarely miss a meeting and there was nothing mentioned authorizing Ben and Jay to secure a loan for the City of Lumberton. But there's nothing in the minutes approving the hiring of embattled former city manager Richard Rose but he was let loose in city hall and given unfettered access to all our records and confidential information. There were rumors saying Ben and Jay somehow secured a $600,000 loan for the matching funds needed to secure the Army Corp of Engineers grant but the details were never discussed at the board meetings I attended. Somehow, Paul, a person that rarely attend meetings, know of a loan that was never discussed during an open meeting. Interesting. Where did this money come from? How can two people secure a $600,000 loan when Bancorp South wouldn't allow the last administration to borrow $20,000 because there wasn't enough proof showing that the loan could be repaid. Somehow, a board that don't know what's in the budget and has claimed to be broke for the past two years has managed to finagle a $600,000 loan. How?

Paul later tried to crawfish out of his statements but he said what he meant; the first time.

Paul responded because he was offended by what was said. Here's something he should make a mental note of: No one has ever been offended by something that didn't apply to them. As a minister, Paul should k ow that bitter and sweet cannot flow from the same fountain. As I said at the beginning of this post, you know a man by the company he keeps. Thank you Paul for giving me a better understanding of who Ben truly is. Paul, if you were a true friend of Ben, you would tell him what he need to know instead of what you think he want to hear. As his friend, you should be encouraging him to do whatever is needed to provide police protection. As his friend, and co-labourer of the word, you should advise him that he should stop standing in the marketplace every Saturday. Did they teach you in the seminary that by doing so, you already have your reward? If you were a true friend. If you were a true friend you eould let Ben know that the millege rate needs to be increased because the city does not have enough revenue to sustain itself at their current rate. That is, if you are his friend. Paul, you can continue to lurk my page and post comments on old posts but don't ever think I'm afraid of you or your boy Ben Winston. Let's be clear, I will not waste anymore time arguing with you or anyone else on this matter. In one of your posts, you asked why I disliked Ben Winston?
Contrary to your belief, I don't dislike Ben. It amazes me that you watered down shell of a Christian sees truth as persecution. Ben Winston has done a poor job as mayor and he had an opportunity to serve as supervisor once before but failed to make any decisions that benefitted Lumberton. When he first took office as mayor, he either lied or pretended that he wanted what was best for Lumberton but every time he scolds a citizen, break ethics laws, violate open meetings laws, take away from the police department and refuse to demand accountability, he's showing that he's not qualified for any position let alone a position at the County level. In closing, Paul let me remind you of another scripture. If you can find your bible, dust it off and turn with me to Isaiah 54:17. "No weapon formed against me shall prosper and every tongue that rise up against me in judgement ye shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me saith the Lord." So Paul, I condemn that judgemental tongue, in the name of Jesus, that was attempting to speak death into my life. You will not have victory in this or any other matters. If you ever was a man of God I pray that your heart is cleansed of that bitter root of hatred that has sprung forth. Despite your small stature, you have, through your business dealings, become a land and property giant in Lumberton but as the bible clearly details, giants do fall. I don't see you as Goliath but as Napolean. I may not be David in this matter but I'm your Waterloo.


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