Friday, December 31, 2010

Why would a Guilford County, North Carolina Department Head call for a State Bureau of Investigation intervention?

"...The Rhinoceros Times reported irregularities in the county's purchase and renovation of a building on Russell Street in downtown High Point. The county bought that building from Wayne McDonald – [former Guilford County Commissioner Steve] Arnold's friend and former business associate – with [Vice-Chairman of Guilford County's Planning Board] Brigman acting as the Realtor.

One county department head said of Fox's run as county manager: "It's been two years; we need to right this ship."

Another said, "What I want to know is – where's the SBI?"

When asked about State Bureau of Investigation practices, Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes explained that the SBI investigates suspected corruption in county government in North Carolina only under certain conditions.

"There must be a written request from the county," Barnes said.

When Barnes was asked to define "the county," he responded, "the county manager."

Barnes added that, in some circumstances, a request from a county commissioner might be able to get the SBI involved in a county's business.

...Fox didn't help herself earlier this month by distributing an "Executive Staff Code of Conduct" at a directors' meeting. That code included new rules for county department heads regarding conversations they have with other county staff and with county commissioners.

The code stated that county staff should "Inform the County Manager, Assistant County Manager, and/or Department Director of any issues and/or conversations of which they should be made aware," and that employees should, "Apprise the County Manager, Assistant County Manger, and/or Department Director of all conversations with Board members on any significant issues."

...Guilford County is at the beginning of the 2011-2012 budget cycle, and it's hard to imagine Fox – after creating a new high-paying administrative job [for Steve Arnold?], secretly entering into a deal that could have paid out tens of millions of dollars to a real estate agent [Bringman] to duplicate services the county is already set up to handle, and agreeing to purchase a building apparently without getting the best price for the county...

If the best price was not paid,
did somebody steal from my kids?

...could walk into a meeting with department directors and preach about the need for them to streamline their departments and cut every spare dime out of their budgets.

Is any Guilford County reporter
going to find out what Guilford County's 2011/12 budget deficit looks like?

How can the public determine
whether or not Guilford County's finances are in order,
without knowing basic budget details?

If Fox is around in the coming months, and she explains to the department heads such a need for frugality, they might justifiably respond, "Oh, really?""

Scott Yost

No comments: