“When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.” ~ David Brin
Part One (State)
Elected officials have obligations to their constituents. In the case of North Carolina State Attorney General Roy Cooper, he has an obligation to defend the State of North Carolina and uphold the State Constitution. He has shirked those responsibilities repeatedly. AG Cooper refused to defend the State against Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. Cooper refused to defend the Voter ID bill passed in 2013 by the North Carolina legislature causing Governor Pat McCrory to hire outside legal council paid for by the taxpayers. He has repeatedly abused his position of authority and influence and even used “his own office to do President Obama’s political bidding and fill his campaign coffers”. All along he should have been looking out for the interests of North Carolinians.
Attorney General Roy Cooper failed to defend the State against Obama’s illegal mandate on immigration. Cooper is a real piece of work. He had to defend himself in a libel suit. He showed up for that, no problem. But, he has not shown up to perform his sworn duties to the people of North Carolina.
Part Two (Local)
Kinston City Council member Wynn Whittington has missed three (3) out of the last four (4) City Council meetings. The Councilman was elected in 2013 and was at the heart of the Nepotism Amendment controversy that most likely helped usher in some new in the 2015 election. Mr. Whittington has not stated publicly why he missed these important meetings. Whittington is one of five (5) PAID City Council members.
This is NOT a partisan issue. We learned that the City of Kinston does not have an attendance policy for City Council members. We think an attendance policy similar to some of the City’s commissions and boards should be considered and the by-laws amended accordingly. The Utilities Advisory Commission, for instance, has a policy that considers it an automatic resignation when a Commissioner misses three consecutive meetings unless the UAC determines, by majority vote, that the absence was for good cause.
There is a difference, however that must be considered. Commissioners and board members are unpaid appointed volunteer positions. City Council members are elected by the people and paid for their services. Elected officials can be impeached or reprimanded but not fired. They are accountable to the people, the residents of Kinston.
WE suggest that an independent review board be set up consisting of two Council members and three private residents. Once any Council member misses three (3) consecutive Council meetings his/her case would be considered for censure or given an opportunity to resign.
Personal hardship is a fact of life, but when it conflicts with elected duties it is time to step down. Job conflicts and vacation don’t count as hardship. Elected officials know the responsibilities they are taking on prior to taking the oath of office.
The review may be closed to the public but the minutes would be made public. This review process would be for any elected official serving City residents.
WE also suggest an avenue for impeachment of under performing or habitually absent elected officials, brought by residents, should also be placed in the by-laws.
Elected officials are responsible to all residents. They are elected to perform a duty and are expected to participate in public meetings. They have a moral obligation to uphold the highest standards putting the welfare and safety of Kinston residents first, even ahead of their own needs.
We have immense respect for anyone who would subject themselves to public service at any level. It takes a special person to withstand the pressures of public office.
In closing…. We think there needs to be a better system of checks and balances for elected officials in Kinston City government. Four years is too long to wait to replace a Council member or Mayor that is under-performing, incompetent, or just doesn’t show up for work; all the while making decisions with our tax dollars that affects our health, safety and well-being. Our residents deserve accountability and transparency, if not for the fact we are paying for that service. Implementing the above mentioned measures would be a good start in holding elected public servants accountable.