The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 18, 2013

Parting shot

Outgoing officials end terms amid familiar controversy

By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER

PRINCEVILLE — PRINCEVILLE — The terms for three board members, who were elected in 2009, officially ended Monday similar to the epitome of controversy in which the town board served throughout its 4-year tenure.

Perhaps the most controversial incidents involved Priscilla Everette-Oates, the former mayor, voting on two issues that the town attorney advised her that she could not vote on. The incident occurred during a special called meeting — the first of three meetings held on that day.  

Everette-Oates, along with Isabelle Purvis Andrews, former mayor pro tem and Calvin Sherrod, former commissioner, terms officially ended Monday night when their predecessors, Mayor Bobbie Jones and Commissioners JoeRoam Myrick and Pamela Ransome took the oath of office during the third meeting of the night. That meeting was the only meeting that did not involved any controversy.

However, the first meeting, which was called by the three outgoing commissioners, was full of questionable antics. That meeting was called by Everette-Oates, Purvis-Andrews, and Sherrod, to discuss changes concerning emergency town meetings held on March 28 and a special meeting on July 8, and to give presentations.

Everette-Oates asked the board to rescind a March 28 vote and another one on June 8 which eventually gave N.C. Auditor Beth Wood the rights to investigate questionable credit card charges that the former mayor allegedly made. Sherrod, Howell and Knight voted on the issue. Everette-Oates and Purvis Andrews did not attend. On Aug. 8 Everette-Oates was charged with 17 counts of misappropriation of funds. She has plea not guilty and scheduled to appear in Edgecombe County Superior Court on March 10.

Everette-Oates argued that the meetings that led to the charges were improper because notices were not properly posted according to the North Carolina General Statue. She repeatedly made a shameless plea to the board to rescind the votes. Motions were made for both meetings. In a reversal, Sherrod voted to rescind the votes that he had approved in both meetings. Purvis-Andrews also voted to rescind them while Howell and Knight voted against it which yield the action a tie.  

Everette-Oates broke the ties but according to town attorney Benn Brewington who sited N.C. General Statue 160A-75 she could not vote.

"Person cannot vote when it involving matters of consideration of their own financial interest or official conduct," Brewington said. "So, anyone who have conduct that was a subject of this audit or whatever the state auditor was doing, they are not allowed to vote."

Despite Brewington's  explanation, Everette-Oates voted twice to break the tie. She pointed out that others commissioner names were in the report also. Brewington said, "If everybody name was in the report then nobody should be voting."

After the meeting, Brewington said the outcome of the votes are "to be determined."

In another twist, Everette-Oates administration opened the 7 p.m. meeting and carried out the agenda. Minutes before the meeting began the town clerk announced that the new administration would immediately be sworn in. Everette-Oates said it was the tradition of the town for the old board to carry out the agenda before the new board take the seat.

The board unanimously approved the minutes of the 5 p.m. special called meeting as their final action. Everette-Oates, Purvis-Andrews, and Sherrod voted for the approval.  Everette-Oates adjourned the meeting and called the new board to the front.

After that meeting, the new board was sworn in and seated. They carried out the exact agenda as the old board with the exception of approving the 5 p.m. special called meeting. The three outgoing board members were in attendance during the third meeting.