Former County Chairman denies any knowledge of insurance scheme
The latest development in the developing scandal of former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene involves the former Board of Commissioners Chairman - David Gantt.
From the Citizen-Times:
New information released by Buncombe County asserts former Board of Commissioners Chairman David Gantt was approached by an employee over whole life insurance policies, an expense that federal prosecutors now say was a fraudulent money laundering scheme by ex-manager Wanda Greene.
"At least one employee asked the former Chair and was advised that the Board supported the county manager's action specific to these policies," a county news release said Wednesday.
Gantt has denied the claim, calling it "untrue."
"I never advised a county employee that the board supported the county manager's purchase of these life insurance policies," the former chairman said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "The Board of Commissioners were never informed of the policies.
"The Board did not approve them and would not have done so. I knew nothing of the policies until their purchase was made public during the federal investigation."
The latest federal indictment says the Board of Commissioners never knew about the life insurance money-laundering scheme Wanda Greene had set up, and Gantt says that shows the accusation against him is false.
He said if the employee feels the indictment is inaccurate, "perhaps this employee should testify under oath before the federal grad jury as I did."
"I am troubled that the county is issuing statements to the media on behalf of anonymous employees," Gantt said. "I would ask that the employee making this claim make it publicly or that the county, before issuing any more press releases, identify its sources."
Keep in mind, Gantt's name surfaced in one of the original scandals that came to light after Greene retired. She walked out the door with a $564,000 payout for six months she worked in 2017, as part of a controlersial "retention program."
From Mountain Xpress:
The retention bonus was a program initiated by Greene aimed at slowing the deluge of upper management taking advantage of an early retirement program, another Greene initiative. Retention bonus contracts were at the discretion of Greene and had to be authorized by the commission chair, not a majority of commissioners. David Gantt was chair at the time the contract was authorized, and county staff said he signed off on it. Xpress has reached out to Gantt for comments and will update the article accordingly if he responds.
Greene also used various compensation programs over the last four years to draw out $1.6 million.
This program is not part of any federal indictment at this point.
City Council will re-visit police search policy issue
Last month, the Asheville City Council directed the interim City Manager to direct the Police Chief to direct the rank-and-file police officers that they could no longer stop vehicles for low-level "regulatory" reasons (like an expired tag). Cops are also limited in how they can search people and vehicles.
There was no staff review of the data. There was no examination of the proposal by experts. It was simply a rubber stamp of the recommendations from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
Indeed, the Council and the Mayor rushed to adopt the new rules without public input, as Councilman Keith Young "called the question" - which is a parliamentary rule that shuts off debate and forces a vote.
Councilman Vijay Kapoor called the process an embarrassment and apologized to the citizens of Asheville.
Mayor Esther Manheimer said she had no choice but to call for the vote.
But this really isn't true.
The agenda item was not listed as a vote. It's listed under "Presentations and Reports."
If Council is going to vote on major changes to policing strategies, it should have been listed as such on the agenda. The Mayor should have entertained a motion to put a vote on the next agenda. Or send it to committee for study.
Allowing the vote was inappropriate.
Councilman Kapoor has since called for the Council to revisit the matter and do it correctly. And the City Attorney seems to agree, according to the article by Joel Burgess in today's Citizen-Times:
... City Attorney Robin Currin wanted the council to formally consider written resolutions on June 19 stating the limits, the city manager said. Currin was away from the office on vacation and couldn't be reached for comment.
When the limits were passed by three 5-2 votes last month, the motions were not on the council agenda and the resolutions were only made verbally. The councilman making the motions, Keith Young, declined to hold public comment.
The June meeting will include a written notice and time for public comment, Ball said.
After the votes, newly elected councilman Vijay Kapoor protested the process. Kapoor said he would try at the June meeting to convince the council to nullify the votes and take more time to study the issue.
Young, one of two black council members, defended the process in a May 31 Facebook post, saying the discussion about disparities in traffic stops and potential fixes went back more than a year.
He used the hashtag "#writtenconsent" and said, "Because you've been told no one's discussed this enough and no public conversation has been involved."
His post laid out a timeline of events starting with a November 2016 meeting where activists suggested such policy changes to Hooper. Council members later expressed concern about traffic stop data and the chief made some adjustments in practices, but declined to take steps proposed by the activists.
This is part of the problem when the City Council does not operate with formal (and obeyed) rules of order when they conduct their meetings.
From the state capitol
North Carolina will likely get a chance to decide whether to adopt voter ID. The Republican-led legislature is moving forward with plans to put it up for a referendum in the November election.
This has prompted leftists to pressure Amazon and Apple to pick a different state than North Carolina to locate their new big developments.
And the Civitas Institute is skeptical about a new law that allows towns in Mecklenburg to start their own charter schools.
And another thing...
Half a million people are expected to visit Tryon, NC for the big horse show in a few months. WLOS had an update on the construction efforts.
And, finally.... this is terrifying!