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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 21, 2013 -- Citizens Requesting to be Heard

The Hound: I am happy to announce that the City video recorded the meeting tonight and these meetings will be available at the City's website and on their Youtube channel shortly if they follow through on this plan. This is a victory for everyone and Hickory Incorporated should be applauded for moving forward in this direction. Yes, we still want the meeting to be provided also on Charter Cable Television, but we are 90% in the right direction and I thank the City for this. I think it is important to the progress of this community and I truly believe this will move us forward in leaps and bounds.

The Hound will still provide you with information and this will help this site to comment more fully and bring the public more into the loop and conversation about what is going on and needs to happen in the area. This City moving forward could not and would not move forward without an interactive citizenry. It is my hope that we will see multiple movements develop and more people become involved in their governance.

What started out as Happy Hipps and I, has grown to involve more than a dozen people on a full-time basis and many more people who participate on a part-time basis, who have steadfastly resolved to help this city move forward into the realities of the 21st Century and all the possibilities that entails and how this community can prosper through those offerings.

Larry Pope spoke about Morganton and Newton's Rehabilitation of there pools and would like Hickory to speak with officials from their area about what they have done and what we could possibly do, moving forward.

I, James Thomas Shell, addressed the City Council with the following:

Once again I am here to talk about reality. I could speak on this issue for hours, but I will be brief as possible. Last Summer I feel like I was accused of representing something that is completely against my belief system, when I was said to be part of a group representing ACORN. At one point, the Citizens for Equity in Government was called by a man who had the audacity to ask us if we have a conscience. Yes, We have a conscience.

We don't question the Collective Conscience of people who were basically labeling us Communists, when we had invited one man to speak about getting out the vote. Do people here have a problem with people voting. I know that I don't. I tend to disagree with some of the people I associate with about individuals showing an I.D. when they vote, because in my opinion one fraudulent vote is one too many, it denigrates the integrity of the system, but I also don't want to see a poor person denied the right to vote and I don't want to see our military troops serving perilously overseas not having their vote counted. And as we have seen in the past, every vote is important.

All this gentleman did was spend 30 minutes talking about getting out the vote before we talked for an hour about the CEG's point of view on the ward specific voting issue.

It was an open meeting. It was open to all, but there were people that told others not to go because it was an ACORN meeting and they shouldn't associate with ACORN and then they purported to know what the meeting was all about.

Like Danny Hearn said at the last meeting, people are down on what they aren't up on. He's right, pushing forward ignorance as fact is not a virtue. Trying to keep people from obtaining information about public issues of relevance is therefore not virtuous. But, in reality we know this is about politics don't we. We know this is about enabling a small minority of people to hold power over a small city by controlling the message disseminated to its people.

We have repeatedly asked for the costs of the Structure that was built on Union Square. There is a paper trail that shows that we have been asking for those numbers for over a year. Low and Behold a few days before the referendum vote, I was informed that the information was available in this very building and so I released the fact that I had been told that those numbers were available to my associates with the CEG.

A friend and a fellow member of the CEG went to City Hall and got a Hickory Incorporated "Well Crafted" run around and fortunately due to my personal diligence I know what happened that day and my associates and I are very disappointed in how some, not all, of our Public Servants represented the public that day, but we should have known better from the start.

The document dump provided that day seems to have been just a political ploy aimed towards the Hickory Daily Record to send the message out that Hickory Incorporated had cooperated fully with the CEG, so what is all the fuss about. This was a little political gambit meant to sway the public's opinion a few days before the election. Isn't it ironic that you are here to receive an Accounting award tonight, when the budget, implementation, and accounting involving this project on Union Square would never pass an audit.

Rebecca Inglefield takes the law more seriously than anyone I know. What happened that day truly does bother her. She was writing down questions asking for Public Information as sanctioned by North Carolina General Statute 132, when she was arrested. Arrested while asking for information that she is entitled to. Arrested for information that has not been provided to us to this day.

One of the questions is, "What was the cost of the Fabric used for the "Sails on the Square" project?"

Mr. Mayor, at the last city council meeting, you said this information would be provided if it were separately available. Are you telling me that we can't find out from the company that implemented the construction of this project the cost per square yard of this material and the square yardage used to build this project? We can do the math.

If you are telling me that there was such a lack of oversight on this project, then I am truly embarrassed. You all are entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility to operate fully on the public's behalf, whether most of the public chooses to be willfully ignorant or not. I really could care less about the "Chattanooga Way." It seems to me that the "Chattanooga Way" equals "Hot Water."

I am sure that you know that the CEG doesn't like the entire process surrounding this structure, but the structure has been built. The structure belongs to the public, the dollars belong to the public, and the information belongs to the public. So let's move forward.

I am sure that Alderman Lail remembers an incident the last few days of ninth grade when a group of us got sent to the Principal's office, because we were actually looking out for the interest of our Teacher's safety; only to find ourselves to be the one's in trouble. The only mistake that Rebecca Inglefield made that day is one that I have always understood. Sometimes you have to step back and Live to Fight another Day. Today is another day and tomorrow will be another day.

James Davis asked the City Council to provide information about City Bidding Processes. He then asked the City to look into implementing a Police Review Board with Subpoena Powers. And last he addressed the city about televising Hickory City Council Meetings.

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