The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

June 26, 2013

Bickering causes Princeville meeting to drag on


PRINCEVILLE — Working with an agenda that would take 10 minutes for most local government bodies to complete, Monday night's meeting of the Princeville Board of Commissioners lasted nearly an hour.

The long meeting was contributed to bickering between the divided board over issues that had little bearing toward improving the welfare of the town.

In the middle of the squabbles, the board voted twice to hire a town attorney (Benn A. Brewington III) on contract. The first vote was deemed illegal because the item was not on the agenda. Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates amended the agenda to include hiring Brewington and called for another vote.

Commissioner Calvin Sherrod made a motion to hire Brewington while Commissioner Isabelle Purvis-Andrews seconded the motion. Neither commissioners Ann Howell nor Gwen Knight voted on the issue. According to Robert Rules of Order, non votes are recorded as votes for the issue. Everette-Oates voted, but her vote was not needed.

During the first vote, Sherrod asked Brewington to join the board at the table. Brewington declined by stating that a contract between he and the town must be signed and he also needed time to look over the town's charter and other town documents.

The 42-year-old Raleigh-based attorney was one of two that were recommended by the Local Government Commission. He attended last month's meeting and spoke briefly expressing his interest in the job. That was the only dialogue the board had with Brewington with the exception of a brief gathering after the meeting.

Howell said she was not against hiring Brewington, but she was against the procedure in which he was hired.

"That motion should not have been on the floor because we did not have a formal closed session discussion about it," Howell said. "All of a sudden, they wanted to vote him in. I'm not against him. I looked at his resume and I'm impressed. I wished that he had more municipality law experience, but if he did, we probably would not be able to afford him. I look forward to working with him when he is put in place properly."

The meeting got off to a rocky start when Everette-Oates asked the board to approve the consent agenda for the May 26 regular meeting.

Knight immediately asked why the consent agenda for the June 6 special called meeting  was not in the package.

Knight was furious over the fact Everette-Oates had replaced an agenda that was made by the interim town clerk with one of her own.

The consent agenda for the June 6 meeting had been on the agenda made by interim town clerk Tabatha Powell.

Knight said when Everette-Oates found out that the agenda was being circulated to the commissioners, she asked police chief Joey Petway to confiscate them. Only one had been passed out (to Sherrod) at that time.

Upon confiscating the agenda, Everette-Oates made up a different agenda that did not include the consent agenda for the June 6 meeting.

Knight became even more furious when she accused the mayor of opening her agenda package and then replacing one agenda for another one.

Knight told Everette-Oates that she committed a crime by opening a package with someone's else name on it.

Everette-Oates told Knight that the mayor or town manager must review all agendas before they are passed out and she did not violate any laws.

The mayor's agenda package included information in which a spokesperson from the Wooten Company was givien time to discuss the possibility of the town applying for an infrastructure grant. Information concerning the grant was not in Howell and Knight's packages while the other three commissioners had access to it. Knight also questioned that.

Knight said she received Everette-Oates' agenda package around 10:22 p.m. Sunday.

That topic was also brought up during a heated discussion between the mayor and Knight.