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Walton-led council again shows off its dysfunction

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By Holly Audette
Columnist

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Three more decisions out of City Council emerge with Johnnie Walton’s and Anita Hummer’s fingerprints all over them.

First the decision not to follow the advice of the city’s professional staff regarding what utility software firm to hire to transition our utility billing into a more modern era.

Then the decision not to allow former Councilman Tony Stimatz to continue to serve on the airport authority with its critical relationship to our vital Coast Guard base and businesses that support it.

Third, the decision disallowing a new, well-received downtown business expanded opportunity for success and increased customers for our Saturday farmers market. But we sure do need to give Walton’s cousin a taxi license to expand his entrepreneurial opportunities!

The opposition to anything recommended by city staff, especially any initiatives involving Rich Olson, indicates Walton and Hummer believe themselves to be the real experts on all things. Remember the citizen’s group raising a stink over the city’s lack of reliance on the city IT staff member? This same group promoted Walton and Gabriel Adkins like the second coming. If we have to continue to be subjected to all of these substitute judgments versus staff expertise, there may be no hope.

Ms. Hummer continues to wreak havoc on the city’s fortunes and opportunity, opposing items and Olson’s management after previously supporting them, reminding us of her long, long history of switching political bedfellows based on whether she gets what she wants for herself personally. As The Daily Advance reported, “Though she had served with Stimatz for years, Hummer also declined to support his reappointment. She acknowledged his years of experience, but said it may be time for someone new to serve on the airport authority.” Interesting in light of her advocacy at the beginning of this council’s term she should serve as mayor pro tem yet again because of her lengthy experience.

How about Councilman Darius Horton’s proclamation he opposed Stimatz because of Stimatz’s “derogatory mindset?” In light of Councilman Walton’s opposition to just about anything that would progress this community and Councilman Horton’s almost unanimous “amen” to any Walton position, that may be the most disingenuous comment I have ever heard from council.

I had hopes Mayor Bettie Parker would demonstrate a new dawn of opportunity. But she has all but formally ceded the city to Councilman Walton’s consistent posture to oppose progress and promote division and strife as long as it means he can be king of something. Remember her battle from day one that she would not break ties and the law did not require her to? She apparently has reconsidered her role and obligations as long as breaking a tie ensures Councilman Walton’s favored position on an issue prevails. If city council was a functional governing body and not a dysfunctional one, there would be no mantle of division for Walton to keep a kingdom on.

Year after year we suffer the consequences of governing dysfunction. The derision about our reputation, the dismantling of hope of recovering our neighborhoods. Inaction on things like code enforcement and the selective attention to issues and personalities so many witness to the point of exhausted resignation. Visitors come through shaking their heads, proclaiming the shame of squandering such possibility.

So what to do? Leave like so many, frustrated at the incredible self-defeating, ego-ruled government? Choose not to come like so many have after visiting and seeing us crumbling down around our shoulders?

Maybe. But perhaps first we should try something unique and profoundly different. How about we work on a statute that would allow us to reshape our boundaries? Unlike merger, leaving Elizabeth City in place to the fate of the Waltons and Hummers who would rather have a soapbox for themselves than a thriving community for the whole. Returning diverse residents to the status of Pasquotank County residents and not city residents along with the assets the negative nellies demonstrate over and over they have absolutely no interest in. Tilting at windmills? We won’t know unless we try. If we have any fight for good in our town left in us.

Holly Audette is a small-business owner active in political and civic causes.

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