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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thoughts about the Hickory City Council meeting - August 5, 2014

Rolling right through it. Halfway through the public hearings. All the referendum issues flow through with zero debate.

Larry Pope gets shut down speaking about a housing issue, because it was a departmental report.


1) Tonight's meeting flowed pretty fast. Alderman Zagaroli had Item I removed from the Consent Agenda -  I. Approval of a Contract with Varrow, Inc. in the Amount of $367,114.50 for Data Center Upgrades to the City’s Network. - his question related to how the bidding process worked and was awarded. There was a limited discussion before the Council voted unanimously to approve this contract.

2) All of the Public Hearings were through in minutes with no debate. This includes the items related to the Sidewalk and Startown Business Park referendums. The Mayor had a few comments.

3) Public Hearing #2 - The Newton/Hickory property is in the City Manager's neighborhood. It has been told to me that the only reason that property was ever annexed by Hickory is because City Manager Berry owned the property there and when the Council decided they wanted Mick, then they had to annex his property, because the City Manager has to live in Hickory Proper. If Mick had not lived there, then that neiborhood was in Newton's ETJ and would have been annexed by Newton. Subsequently the properties there are now annexed into Hickory with a Newton address.

4) Public Hearing #3 - Captain Thurmond Whisnant stated that they have been accessing the State's criminal database already to look into issues with ABC permit applicants. New legislation mandates that the city pass an ordinance in order to be granted access to the Division of Criminal Information (DCI) system for the purpose of obtaining criminal history information on ABC permit applicants to determine their suitability to be an ABC permit holder within the City of Hickory.

5) Departmental Report #1 about language for the upcoming referendum was through in moments.

6)  Departmental Report #2 considered Hickory Housing Authority’s request to have the City of Hickory make Application for a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. - Assistant City Manager  Andrea Surratt made the initial presentation about this grant. Her information was pretty vague. The council granted Dr. Sidney Myles the right to speak and he essentially said that the housing authority is going to essentially change Public Housing to where it is no longer Public Housing. They are going to tear down the current housing and disburse housing in the city. That is what the grant monies would be used for. To develop a plan to do that.

When Dr. Myles was through, Larry Pope wanted to speak, but the Mayor would not allow Larry to do so. They called him and voted him out of order. The Mayor said that Larry had had his chance to speak (during Persons Requesting to Be Heard).

Hound Note: I couldn't help it when I saw where the Mayor was taking this once again and I asked why they couldn't grant Larry the ability to speak during Matters not on the Agenda. The Mayor would not listen and said I was out of order. 

It pretty much disgusted me, because I have seen how Rudy's Decorum is constantly arbitrarily administered.  I have seen them allow people to speak out of turn before, but it is when that person supports the City's position/agenda. 

A couple months ago Ray Hunt gave me a "Taxes are legalized stealing" t-shirt. I was setting up my camera and I look up and the Mayor is barking at me, "We don't allow that in here." I look up and see it's directed at me. I'm like, "What?" The Mayor gets all bug eyed and is like, "We don't allow signs in here!!!" I look to my right and Ray had draped that t-shirt across the seat to my right between me and Richard Garrison. I thanked Ray for getting me in trouble. Point is that it wasn't a sign and besides there aren't any such rules against t-shirts. Rudy makes the rules up as he goes and if he doesn't like you. then he will try to intimidate you. Go back to the last meeting and look how he shows deference to the Ross's compared to how he treats Larry. And I think highly of the Ross's too, but it was obvious that this council has decided to make an example out of Larry.

Some of y'all might think that is alright, but what if you lived in a community where the shoe was on the other foot? What if some of you "Conservative Christians" lived in a "Liberal" community where the town council aimed to shut you down and made comments in a public forum related to every comment you make and then they won't allow a discussion. 

In this world, some of us aren't going to get along. It isn't the authority of the government to bully people they don't like. That is what despots do. The Mayor has said that he doesn't want anyone leaving these meetings feeling like they had something to say, but they weren't allowed to be heard -- huh? This could have been handled a lot better. That isn't second guessing.

I'm not saying that Larry is always right and that I always agree with him. In talking to him, I have told him when I don't agree with him. I've asked him not to go and get himself arrested. I listen to him and he listens to me. It is called respect. It is called courtesy.

7) In Departmental Report #4 Warren Wood basically gave rave revenues about Hickory Inc.'s budget and the local economy.


Anonymous said...

Larry probably likes punching Rudy's buttons. And that's ok. If Rudy doesn't like having his buttons pressed, he needs to find something else to occupy his time. That is the position he placed himself in.

What's it going to take to rectify this? First of all, if a few people out of Ridgeview would take even a token interest and show up. They don't have to agree with what Larry has to say, but stand with him. As you said, no two people are going to get along on every subject or topic. If they did, it would be a pretty boring place.

Secondly, Rudy has established the precedent for allowing citizens to be heard outside the public comment section. He is being arbitrary and selective. Since the State has said that council can establish reasonable rules for public address of council, those should be content neutral. For the mayor to arbitrarily deny Larry of addressing council stinks of something else and denies him his due process and equal protection after someone else just exercised that right.

Federal Civil Rights violation? Not my call, but it sure sounds like it, has occurred over time, and there is a discernable pattern, or so it would appear.

That is what Hickory Inc. understands. Until they have their noses rubbed in it, They just don't believe it stinks or applies to them.

TM said...

I am in agreement with your assessment of sometimes yes, sometimes no when it comes to agreeing with Larry Pope...but the man HAS made it practically his mission to make things as equal as possible for everyone rather than the chosen ones. Today I also perused a post you made regarding how to request public record information from the city. I am a former employee, and I can tell you that many eyes roll when Larry Pope's name is mentioned....and employees do NOT want to be bothered getting the information together. He has as much right to access city hall as any other Hickory citizen. I worked in a department that Mr. Pope frequented in his pursuit of information, and I was never encouraged to get the information together quickly. Personally, it was a 'get it done and move on to the next task' thing for me, but I was just a peon. Mr. Pope simply asks for information more often than pretty much anyone else, as far as I can remember. It doesn't matter what one thinks of him...he's a citizen and entitled to be heard just as any other citizen would be.Thank you for not being afraid to speak the truth.