Sharing: A Randy Adcox ‘Concerned Citizens’ Post – Removal of the Monument Vote Takes Place During A Budget Meeting

A Finely Crafted Opinion Piece By Randy Adcox –          June 3, 2020

By now many of you have probably heard about the city council voting 6-1 yesterday to move our Confederate Monument. Last night, I watched the video of the yesterday’s proceedings and frankly, I have mixed feelings about what I saw. My first thought, like many of you, was extreme sadness and disappointment. And yes, anger. The fact that this vote was taken during a *budget* meeting, as opposed to a regular, “public” city council meeting, made it seem all the more perverse. In a time when we want our government to be MORE transparent, we have our own city government making these kinds of decisions in what essentially amounted to a “closed session” to the public. It just wreaks of a LACK of transparency and bad judgement. I’ve been told a “formal”, public vote will take place at Monday’s regular scheduled council meeting, but like a LOT of decisions made by this council in the past, it’s already a “done deal”. The public has no input or “say so” in the matter, because the council has already made the decision to move it.

Aside from the “cloak and dagger” manner in which this vote was cast, I was also bothered by a couple other points that were made during the discussion phase of this vote yesterday. First, the question of the legality of moving the monument. Council member Lige Daughtridge brought up the legal aspect of who owns the land, and whether or not the monument can *legally* be moved, and stressed that he didn’t want to see the city put itself in any sort of legal “bind” by doing something that was contrary to state law. Council member Andre Knight responded to Daughtridge’s concerns by commenting that he felt like the council itself should be more concerned with doing what is *right*, as opposed to doing what is *legal* (anyone else see the obscene irony in Mr. Knight’s comments?). The fact of the matter is that it IS illegal for the city to move that monument, unless it’s moved to an area of “equal access and equal prominence”. Moving it to private property, out of public view is also against the law. Putting it in storage for “safe keeping” is against the law, too. There’s no ambiguity here about what our state law says about historical artifacts. And Andre Knight knows this, because I told him so myself in a city council meeting two years ago!

The other (and equally disturbing) comment I heard was from council member T.J. Walker, who stated that while he was opposed to violence and the destruction of private property, “his generation” was likely to tear down the monument if it’s left standing, and this was his basis for voting in favor of removing the monument from its current location. In other words, because there are some young peoole in this city who are likely to tear the monument down anyway, we should go ahead and take it down before they destroy it. Here’s a thought, why wouldn’t we instead EDUCATE our young people about history, and the reason why that monument was erected in the first place? And why wouldn’t we stress to them that anarchy and lawlessness is NOT the way a civilized society acts? I guess it’s just easier to remove anything that’s likely to cause them “emotional duress” from their view, and “protect” them from the big ol’ mean world in which we live, huh?

I also found it disturbing that this council is willing to undertake this action after they have obtained overwhelming evidence over the last couple of years, that this monument just isn’t on most people’s radar. The four public meetings held two years ago (at a cost of $40,000!) CLEARLY showed that the vast majority of people in this city are completely indifferent about that monument. Leave it alone, tear it down…MOST people in this city, black and white alike, simply don’t CARE! Why on earth do we have to spend the thousands of dollars required to move this monument, because a handful of people take offense at it being there? The answer is simply because this has been a promise made by council members Knight and Blackwell, to some of their most ardent supporters. It’s that simple. It’s certainly not because there’s been a huge public outcry to take it down.
Lastly, my biggest concern is that if this council moves forward with these plans to take this monument down and “store it for safe keeping” as council member Blackwell stated, we’ll never see it again. And to me, that would truly be a miscarriage of justice. That monument has stood for over a hundred years. It’s been a defining piece of this city’s skyline, and it’s been a memorial to our war dead since 1977 when it was rededicated to the memory of ALL of our war veterans. In spite of what some believe, that monument does indeed have “value”. And the messages inscribed on it are messages of hope and honor, not oppression and shame. Those who look upon that monument and see ugliness and hate, see those things because that’s what they CHOOSE to see. And that my friends isn’t a problem caused by that monument simply *being* there; it’s caused by a lack of understanding and a lack of knowledge. Taking that monument down won’t solve a single problem we have in this city. It won’t feed a single hungry person, nor house a single homeless person, nor help a single struggling family put food on the table.

The ONLY thing that will be accomplished by removing that monument from its rightful resting place, is that we’ll be hiding a portion of our local history from future generations. And to what benefit? What will we gain from taking down a monument that has stood all these years? The hatred that exists in the hearts of some people in this town, won’t be erased by taking down that monument, and not a single person will be better off afterwards. Let’s at least be honest about what’s happening here and not try to pass it off as something it’s not. What it’s NOT, is “doing the right thing”. What it IS, is allowing Andre Knight and those who agree with him, to have a “victory”. At taxpayer expense!

CLICK HERE FOR FEBRUARY 2020 MAIN STREET POST ON THE MONUMENT

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The Secret Garden ll on Tarboro Street at Five Points Celebrating A Small Downtown Business

I know everyone’s mind is on the results of the state audit. The impact of this opening  salvo produced nary a resignation, no one took responsibility for anything, and the piece de resistance, refutable evidence was ‘racially motivated and fueled by white supremacists.’ One of my favorite quotations is, ”We have investigated ourselves and found ourselves to be innocent.” As incredulous as I am over last Tuesday’s special meeting, we have to remember that we have real people, with great financial investment in their small businesses downtown. They  believe in Rocky Mount and its future. They are the future! We can let the shame of all this define who we are or find a way to pick ourselves up and rally around the possibilities Main Street is about. The Secret Garden II  is the perfect example of  a great asset that needs our support and appreciation.

“The walls behind the counter had deep floor-to-ceiling shelves for vases and jam jars and scented candles, and there was an old wrought-iron revolving stand for cards. But most of the space in the long, narrow shop was taken up with flowers and plants. Today there were fifty-two kinds of cut blooms, from the tiny cobalt-blue violets that were smaller than Lara’s  (Javelin Guilford) little fingernail to a purple-and-green-frilled brassica that was bigger than her head. The flowers were set out in gleaming metal buckets and containers of every shape and size. They were lined up on the floor three deep and stacked on the tall three-tier stand in the middle of the shop.

The plants, huge leafy ferns, and tiny fleshy succulents, lemon trees and jasmine bushes and freckled orchids, were displayed on floating shelves that were built at various heights all the way up to the ceiling. Lara (Javelin) had spent weeks getting the lighting right. There were a few soft spotlights above the flower displays, and an antique crystal chandelier hung low above the counter. There were strings of fairy lights and dozens of jewel-colored tea lights and tall, slender lanterns dotted between the buckets. When they were lit, the cast star and crescent moon shapes along the walls, and the shop resembled the courtyard of a Moroccan riad- a tiny walled garden right in the middle of the city.”  ― Ella Griffin, The Flower Arrangement

I have borrowed this excerpt from Ella Griffin’s novel. I  added Jay’s name in parathesis. The Secret Garden is a magical place like the one described above. A place where floral creativity abounds, friendships develop, people arrive at happy and sad times, and those in between. You always feel welcomed. I love the Five Points location at 115 Tarboro St. There is parking on the street or behind the building. I recommend parking around back where you can see a new world being created. There are other businesses in the area. Check them ALL out!

I  INVITE YOU TO FOLLOW THIS BLOG – KEEP ME COMPANY ON MAIN STREET

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THE REALITY OF CORRUPTION

Corruption in the city government is a behavioral consequence of power and greed. Generally, even with a rulebook against it, corruption is covert, opportunistic, repetitive, powerful, and reliant upon dominance, fear, and unspoken codes; a silent threat. The findings of the State Auditor’s report underscore the behavioral consequences of corruption and the use of fear to achieve personal gain at the expense of taxpayers. Sadly, deceit was at play in the hands of the previous Mayor and the entire City Council of Rocky Mount. I say the entire City Council because while some members benefited from the corruption the others looked away. Thus, complicit by their silence.

On a basic level, we all understand the importance of voting for those we believe in. We hope they will represent our best interests in all city matters. In actuality, we have no real way of knowing what they engage in behind closed doors. Will they fairly represent us when it comes to what is best for our street, our neighborhood, and our city? In simple terms–we elect those we believe in, trust, and HOPE they will do what is right.

This scandal involves numerous city officials and council members who disregarded our HOPE and our Trust to do that, which is Right. Unfortunately, there are greater consequences that accompany this betrayal.

Once a state audit occurs, the finding validated, and charges entered against the perpetrators, seismic effects are felt in the city. Generally, these come in waves starting at a local level of distrust in the city government and city officials, the reluctance of banks to fund redevelopment projects, and the careful accounting of all existing and previous grants involving the private foundation, state, and federal funds. Moreover, the city will be put on both a written and an unspoken watch list that all foundations, state, and federal funding agencies are aware of. In short, the city’s creditworthiness will come into question. As a result, obtaining funds will become more difficult, and more questions will be asked—remarkably similar to an individual having a bad credit report—the city will face intensified scrutiny until it cleans up its act.

The state audit is not about race. It is about accounting practices and cronyism. It is about breaking the rules and the trust of voters and taxpayers. Moreover, it is about North Carolina’s State Auditor Ms. Beth A. Wood doing her job in an unbiased and professional way in response to over 200 complaints. It is an embarrassment for Rocky Mount that Ms. Wood has been called a racist in print in spite of her CAREFUL and PRUDENT investigation. This outrageous mistake is rather like watching a bear in a cage get angry after it has been poked with a stick.

Main Street is proud of North Carolina’s State Auditor for doing her job in a productive and professional manner. It was predictable, however, that the cry of racism would be raised in order to discredit Ms. Wood’s investigation while obfuscating the truth over a myriad of crimes. A line in the sand is drawn. The idea that wrong is wrong is one side of the equation. The other is an unwritten rule that if you are black you do not call out another black man or woman. Now we have a perfect example of ‘being between a rock and a hard place.’  What does one do? Only when everyone is brave enough to call something WRONG regardless of who is at fault can the reality of corruption be irradicated. The quicker these matters are attended too, the harsh scrutiny we deserve will come to an end and the Rocky Mount world can spin once again on the right axis.

This piece has been written in collaboration with a mentor from the world of urban planning who knows a lot about this kind of “stuff.”  This duet confirms what I believe: Alone we know so little, but together we know so much.

 

 

 

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Adding to the Discussion: Randy Adcox FB Conversation – Not To Be Missed

The Clock that presides over the City Council Business

So by now, most people in our fair city have had an opportunity to see and hear the results of the state auditor’s investigation into our city government. And except for those who refuse to acknowledge the obvious, there’s almost unanimous consensus that there’s been some questionable (if not outright criminal) decisions and actions taken by some in our local government over the past several years. And while the spotlight is rightfully focused on council member Andre Knight, there’s certainly plenty of blame to go around for the inexcusable “writing off” of close to fifty thousand dollars in utility bills, as well as the blatant disregard for city rules and regulations concerning meal allowances and “per diem” in general, as revealed by our city manager’s meal purchases. And questions still abound about grant monies and how they’ve been used (or abused) over the years. If there ARE criminal charges that arise from this state auditor’s investigation, they’ll likely occur due to alleged misappropriation of state and possibly federal grant money over a period of several years. This is believed to be the area where there’s the most evidence of *criminal* activity, as opposed to merely “bad decisions” by some of our city council members.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole sordid mess is the attempts by some to write the whole thing off as “racially motivated”. As if only WHITE people would care about an elected official who ran up forty-seven thousand dollars in utility bills, and then had them wiped clean by pressuring those who work for the city, to erase them from existence. And the idea that it was only WHITE people who talked with the audit investigators and revealed where to look to find the *evidence* of wrongdoing, is ludicrous. The state auditor’s team didn’t enter city hall looking for only WHITE people to interview; they went in and made themselves available to ALL city employees, many of whom are minorities. And they also received anonymous phone tips and emails, many of which almost certainly came from minority city employees either current or former.
And right on cue, we’ve heard from the race-baiters. Those who immediately reach for the “race card” whenever a black official is accused of wrongdoing, are as predictable as the rising and falling of the tides. They refuse to accept any other possible explanation for the criticizing of black leaders, and fall back to the tired and worn out position of “this is an attempt to silence or otherwise diminish black leadership”. These people couldn’t care less about whether someone is innocent or guilty; their primary goal is to shift the focus and blur the lines between what is, and what is not “normal”. Rather than call out those who’ve openly and blatantly abused their elected positions for decades, they instead prefer to provide “cover” for the accused and silence the accusers with proclamations of “they’re just all racist, white supremacists”. It’s so utterly tiresome and pathetic. And it WON’T WORK this time!
If there’s been anything positive that’s come about as a result of this investigation, it’s the number of people who’re suddenly paying attention to local government again. But, there’s also an apparent lack of understanding by some anyway, of the hierarchy within city hall. The city manager, Rochelle Small-Toney, is the defacto “head” of our city employees and oversees all the departments therein. She, however, actually works for the City Council, whose job it is to make the major financial decisions of the city, including funding city improvements, new projects, etc.. The City Manager is *hired* by the City Council, and it’s only the City Council who can *fire* him/her. The Mayor’s office, while certainly an important position in our local government, is really little more than a figurehead when it comes to any real “power”. Aside from potentially casting a “tiebreaker” vote, there’s not much more our mayor can do to “control” our city council. I’ve read several posts on Facebook recently, where someone has asked, “Why didn’t David Combs just put his foot down, and stop this madness while HE was in office?”. Still, others have called on our current mayor, Sandy Roberson, to “fire ’em all!”. The truth is, neither mayor had/has the legal authority to control or dictate the actions of our city council. Sure, they can speak up or voice opposition, but there’s little else our mayor can do under our current form of city government to effect the actions or behavior of our city council members.
In the end, justice will be served. In our “gotta have it now” world, that justice may not come as quick as some would like, but it WILL come. And those who have abused their elected office, will one day have to answer for their sins. For some of these people, the “sins” they eventually will have to answer for, will be far greater than simply abusing their elected office. When phony men who go around under the guise of being a pastor, and then lie, cheat and steal from the people who elected them to office, they’ll one day answer to a much higher power than anything us mere mortals can muster. And that day of reckoning will surely come to some of these folks. Count on it!

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The City Council At The Long Green Table – Calling For Immediate Resignations

“If you can not explain it now, to those involved, and present, here on the mid-watch, then how will you ever defend it later when called to account at the long, green table.”

‘The long green table’  is associated with a Naval Court Martial or Court of Inquiry. The purpose of a Naval Board of Inquiry is to examine all particulars concerned with the event in question and to determine facts and cause, corrective action, and disciplinary action called for by the findings and suggestions of the inquiry. Traditionally, the accused sat at a table covered in green felt. The green felt was used in wardrooms on ships to help keep objects in place when the ship pitched and rolled.

The May 15, 2020, State Audit Report findings are indefensible.  They always have been. There is no acceptable explanation that can be offered. Those involved who now sit at the long green table have no recourse but to resign their various positions. In my opinion, there is no, come let us reason together. Not until the citizens of Rocky Mount have been satisfied that justice has prevailed and there is a reason to think that restored trust in good government has a chance.

It is obvious there are people who can’t bring themselves to accept and declare that wrong is wrong. It is as simple as that.  Sputtering that it is the Report that is in error, racially-based…..yadda, yadda, is nonsense. If a wrong is only wrong to some of us,  you get what we’ve got. There isn’t any come let us reason together UNTIL the wrong has been made right. The home-court needs a new floor before play can commence. Everybody that comes to play understands and is committed to the rules, plays for Rocky Mount not as an individual player out for his or her own gain, but as a team player that has reasoned that to live a life of possibilities that come true, everyone must agree on Right and Wrong.

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URGENT: Triage Available On Main Street For Casualties

We know what the word triage means. In medical use, it is the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties. With the State Auditor reveal on Friday, we’ve got a lot of angry, discouraged people who are fed up with the same old, same old. A lot of people feeling that in spite of what has been substantiated, nothing will change. People left comments across social media about the terrible state of things where members of the Council, the past Mayor, and the City Manager have been involved to one degree or another and have rigged the system for personal gain. The Audit report findings can not be denied. It is what it is. Rocky Mount is strewn with the casualties of mismanagement, and years of shenanigans. Triage is available on Main Street.

WE CAN NOT LET THESE CIRCUMSTANCES DEFINE WHO WE ARE.

The emerging new scene on Main Street is a larger story and has within it a healing ingredient, like oil on our heads, when a cross is marked there, as a blessing. The triage process has to do with the preservation of buildings, their restoration, and repurposing, Finding a pulse and a heartbeat in each building and setting about to save it is what the doctors are doing downtown right now.  In the guise of investors, architects, workmen, realtors, young people with dreams of a future, they have all come together. I call them the Repairers of the Breach. That it is a ‘mell of hess,’ there is no denying. While you wait for treatment, I want you to look for me, the eternal optimist, who is among you believing that not even this report can keep us from continuing the revitalization of Rocky Mount.

WE WILL NOT BE DERAILED BY LOSING HEART AND                                        ABANDONING OUR POSTS – WE CAN’T HAVE THAT

 

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Terrick Pittman -Advocate Ward 1- Responds to Wilson Times Article

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Tarrick Pittman Advocate Ward 1

You remember this fine young man who ran against Mr. Knight in the Fall election? His response is worth your time to read. SFH

As I sat and read this article I was heartbroken, angry, and just plain astonished. I had to pull myself away from my work because I couldn’t focus. This is the biggest travesty in our city’s long and storied history. Most of you know the history associated with my lawsuit with the City so I won’t get into that but I hope you can see my frustration. I lost a lot last year trying to work to better my community. I didn’t care about obtaining power or recognition. Simply put, I cared. To see this blatant abuse of power is astonishing.

In Ward 1 over 20% of the residents live below the poverty level. The unemployment rate is consistently the highest in the state. Residents struggle to pay rent and utilities. There are more evictions in Edgecombe County than any other county in the state with the exception of Nash County. To have your sitting Council member elude paying basic utilities is a travesty. I think about all the elderly people I met last year campaigning who often spoke of the difficulties they were experiencing paying their utilities. I think about the young single mothers littered throughout Ward 1 with small children who struggle to pay their utilities. I think about the disabled persons who flooded social services last year during early voting. Seeking help with utilities. I think about my 68-year-old mother who pays her light bill faithfully on time on a fixed income which my brothers and sisters have to supplement to help her make ends meet. This is truly a sad day for our city.

This is an embarrassment to the black community in our City. No bones about it. Some of them have held this individual to such a high standard. They have enjoyed him slinging the race card with limited results in their community. They are retired teachers, local pastors, washed up community leaders, black fraternity & sorority members. Booker T graduates who have held him as the standard barrier. Chastising all who dare to challenge him if they are not cut from the same cloth. Ask them when you see them what do they have to say now! Will those retired teachers stand up for what they taught us in school about having integrity as a black man? Now they have to decide which is more important. The man or the community. I have a friend who is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity along with the Councilman of Ward 1. He is always quoting to me the 5 objectives of the fraternity. One of those objectives stands out to me in this situation. “To Inspire Service in the Public’s Interest”. The Councilman has failed to do so and should be held accountable by his brothers. Your hand was placed on the bible in December at your swearing-in. In front of your city in the Council Chambers. You swore under oath to perform your job with integrity and dignity to the best of your abilities. All while knowing you had bamboozled taxpayers by avoiding paying your utilities. You, my friend, have failed your city and the black community. Do us all a favor and relinquish your seat! #letsgrowtogether

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