What they really think

Published 11:24 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To the editor:

Did you ever wonder what the majority on our board of commissioners think about Polk County citizens?

At least about members of the public who don’t always praise or agree with them?

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Well, in some uncharacteristic candor, two of them told us at the Aug. 19 board of commissioners meeting.

As reported in the Aug. 21, 2013 Tryon Daily Bulletin, there had been some follow-up discussion at the Aug. 19 meeting about the condition of the Department of Social Services building.

In public comments, I explained that I had done some research since the last BOC meeting, and learned that some of the things the majority had said about the condition of the building were inaccurate and inappropriately inflammatory.

For instance, professionals who know the most about the building say that it likely can be LEED (environmentally) certified. The roof will not need to be “destructed” in order to seal the building, as was said at the earlier BOC meeting. In fact, one knowledgeable professional said the building was already sealed, long ago.

I also explained that last November, before the current majority dismissed him, county attorney Mike Egan was working hard to negotiate other parties’ payment for the “cures” for the problems at the building. Unfortunately, after Egan was dismissed, no one “picked up the ball” to continue the negotiations or complete the work at the building.

Not for almost nine months, now, did work progress on the corrections that had been identified and in the works so long ago. Even minor problems that were known nine months ago, when the new majority took over, were left to linger.

In an important clarification, current county attorney Jana Berg explained that when, at the last meeting, she had used the term “train wreck,” she wasn’t referring to the building itself, but to the web of contractual matters related to the building.

Apparently board chair Michael Gage didn’t like my alerting the public to “the rest of the story,” or letting the public know that things are not so dire as were suggested at the previous meeting.

He objected to my pointing out the long time lapse in getting the job done or the failure even to talk to key people who have knowledge about the condition of the building.

Gage said, “Anybody that wants to accuse us of not doing our job, they can take a hike.”

Vice chair Ted Owens added his support for Gage’s position, asking, “How far?”Gage summed up his attitude, “They can keep going.”

– Renée McDermott,