Hertford’s town government is dysfunctional and that affects people’s perception of not only the town, but the county. It’s worse than Washington, DC and that’s terrible.
Maybe it’s time to ask the state for help to set things in order because Hertford is hurting.
A recent story about the NC State Bureau of Investigation alleges that a councilman may have hacked into Mayor Pro Tem Ashley Hodges’ laptop. Councilman Frank Norman suggests that the “tech savvy” councilman is Quentin Jackson.
And there’s this nugget from the SBI story about how Hodges told the SBI he was “uncomfortable” reporting the matter to the Hertford Police Department because of “political associations and relationships that had formed between various council members, the town manager and the chief of police.” Hodges did say, according to the warrant application, he had reported the matter to Womble on Jan. 29.
That’s a HUGE red flag that Hodges doesn’t trust the police department nor Town Hall.
Sunday, Hertford Police Chief Dennis Brown submitted his resignation citing an “acrimonious political environment” within Town Hall. Within the last two years, four department heads within Town Hall have moved onto peaceful pastures.
In recent weeks, a civil war has been raging between Mayor Earnell Brown and Jackson during town council meetings. He’s called her a liar and made all sorts of assertions about her leadership ability and character. And during open session, Brown listed all of Jackson’s many, many transgressions, some that have involved criminal charges. Jackson threatened to file a lawsuit against the mayor – not the first time he’s gone to the courts.
After the municipal election in 2019, Jackson filed an injunction to halt the new council from being sworn-in so as to have more time to address his issues from November’s municipal election when he lost his bid for mayor. However, a Wake County Court dismissed Jackson’s attempts to overturn the election.
In January, Councilman Jerry Mimlitsch was charged with second-degree trespassing and breaking and entering, both misdemeanors, according to the arrest warrant. Mimlitsch was doing town business, a survey of sorts about distressed housing. Plot thickens because the incident in question happened in October, but the criminal complaint was filed in late January by Jackson’s longtime associate, Tony Riddick, who owns the property at 321 Market Street, a long vacant house.
State Treasurer’s office said the Town of Hertford’s annual financial audit for fiscal year 2019/20 has not been filed with the state’s Local Government Commission – fourth year in a row that it’s been late.
Council adopted a budget for fiscal year 2020/21 that included an 18 percent property tax hike and a 36 percent water/sewer rate increase. That’s how bad things have gotten financially for Town Hall.
Citizens should ask themselves, has your quality of life improved by paying more for government, one that is increasingly become more dysfunctional?
Last summer, town council meetings were hacked, but that’s not all that happened. Jackson played the race card on Norman by calling him an an “Uncle Tom” among other related racist names that are not suitable to repeat in a family newspaper. Jackson even had the audacity to refer to Norman as Kunta Kinte, a slave portrayed in “Roots” who is beaten nearly to death because he refuses to give up his African identity. During a recent council meeting, Jackson called citizens “terrorists.”
Norman once referred to Mayor Brown as Hitler and has consistently challenged her judgment on matters great and small.
Many council meetings include lengthy debates about parliamentary procedure and the agenda, what should be on it, who can add or subtract items for discussion, so on and so forth. These meetings often last for hours and end long after midnight. In recent weeks, some council meetings did not gain quorum for one reason or another. Personal communication has shut down between the factions on council, perhaps with good reason.
And remember when Jackson spent over a week in jail following his guilty plea December 2019 to assaulting a former town councilor Sid Eley by hitting him in the face?
While we’re hesitant to ask the state to set things straight in Town Hall, maybe it is time to ask for help.
November’s municipal election is a long way away and that may not even solve anything.
There is a lot of drama going on with council and now those problems are topped off with an SBI investigation. Like the Jackson/Eley feud, the next round in court may potentially involve two councilman pitted against each other.
Meanwhile, budget season is nearing and the town’s business goes on.
Maybe it time for the state to step in so that Hertford can get its affairs in order.