Head butting lively feature of landfill debate
ELIZABETH CITY — The Solid Waste Committee met in the Pasquotank Courthouse Monday morning, April 24. One of the first agenda items was an opportunity for public comment. James Morris, a citizen of the county, spoke on behalf of the Pasquotank Citizens Against Fraud and Wasteful Public Spending, a political watchdog group that has been formed to look out for the interests of county taxpayers.
Addressing the board of directors for the Solid Waste Committee, Morris opened with the following statement:
The watchdog group Pasquotank Citizens Against Fraud and Wasteful Government Spending was organized and involves eight local men who believe that our County Government wastes too much money. Among various concerns is the landfill.
There are many questions that cannot be explained away as merely poor management. So documents have been requested. But each time we receive documents; more questions arise requiring more documents.
It looks to our group as though the Commissioners prefer to attack the messenger rather than seek to investigate these concerns. The suggestion by Commissioner Perry, that there is another “Elephant in the room” is a typical fallback position to suggest that race is the basis of the questions. This suggestion is beneath the dignity of Commissioner Perry’s office. Race has nothing to do with this matter, period.
We have been trying to obtain a clear picture of how the Landfill is operated and why things are done as they are. But this has been going on for several years with little to show for the effort except for a great deal of time spent all around. So we are considering a Freedom of Information Act request that will be comprehensive in nature and scope. Further, we are considering a request for a full-blown audit, rather than continue to address these concerns in a piecemeal fashion.
We concur that the landfill is neat and clean, but we want the apparent waste concerns to be resolved, once and for all.
Immediately after Morris concluded his remarks, he came under withering criticism by County Commissioner and Board Member, Jeff Dixon. After numerous questions, without Mr. Morris being able to speak, Dixon asked Morris — in a manner both snide and sarcastic, according to one observer — if he were afraid that he might be embarrassed by his remarks?
Thereafter, Morris asked permission of Board Chairman, Cecil Perry, to answer the questions posed by Dixon, responding that he (Morris) has broached provided numerous issues to the Board of Commissioners, over the years, with no investigation being conducted.
Morris submitted both the opening statement and a copy of questions to Perry – the chairman — which were passed around to all members of the Solid Waste Committee, and he asked that both documents be included as enclosures in the official minutes of the meeting.
Morris and other watchdogs expect answers to the questions will be provided, for the record, at the next meeting.
Reporter’s note: Many people in this area know James Morris. He has been a lifelong resident of Pasquotank County, and a critic of operations at the landfill for many years. About two years ago, Morris, who is a heavy equipment contractor, was voted on by the Board of Commissioners to join the solid waste board. Board of County Commissioners Chairman Dixon was out of town at the time. But when Dixon returned, he asked for a vote to remove Morris.
All those who had originally voted to appoint Morris, then voted to rescind the appointment.
In so doing, not only did this action remove a critic, but it also removed a knowledgeable, experienced man from participating on the Solid Waste Board. Does anyone find this action questionable, considering that Morris is constantly being criticized by the same person who got him booted of the landfill committee? Was this his way of removing a critic or was it something else? You decide!