More Drama, Strife Created By Board Head

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2012

Here we go again, another Carl Humphrey crisis.
He kicks hornet nests for pleasure.
If equating veterans to welfare cheats wasn’t enough, if showing fawning deference to his friends during meetings wasn’t revealing, if being accused of intimidating a county employee didn’t raise red flags, Humphrey’s latest attempt to hijack the school board’s piggybank makes us question his efforts for the county’s welfare.
Six perilous months remain in his one-year term as county chairman. The chairmanship isn’t bestowed on merit. Every board member gets a turn. Giving Humphrey the gavel has led to chaos. Commission meetings have alternated between circuses and shouting matches. He has treated fellow board members as children, assigning seats and allowing them to make campaign speeches and criticize others on the board. Sheriff Andy Stokes and plain clothes officers sit among the audience in case fights break out. During the veteran dust-up, some almost came to blows.
This is good government?
“Sitting up here is not quite as easy as it looks,” he said during a May meeting.
It should be quite easy — being courteous and polite, being fair and cordial to all appearing before the board — keeping the welfare of the county foremost in all decisions and discussions. Cooperating instead of quarrelling.
The job title isn’t czar.
If he can’t run a civil meeting, we hesitate to trust Humphrey with the purse of the school system’s emergency fund.
The commissioners have a full plate of their own legitimate problems that go begging while Humphrey seeks hegemony over the schools. County manager Beth Dirks’ biggest task now isn’t managing the administration but dealing with Humphrey’s wildfires and tempests.
Last week Humphrey, commissioner Robert Wisecarver and Ms. Dirks met with Davie School Superintendent Darrin Hartness and school board chairman Terry Renegar and board member Barbara Owens about the 2012-13 budget. Humphrey demanded that the school system turn over its $2.2 million rainy day fund — two months of operating funds — or the new budget will be cut by that same amount.
The school system should refuse.  If a gymnasium roof leaks, the school board shouldn’t be forced to go cap-in-hand to a petulant commission for permission to fix it.
Under Humphrey’s leadership, the commissioners have turned hostile to the schools — the number one priority and expense of any county government. Last year some commissioners were thwarted in their bid to enforce “zero-based” budget rules on the school system. The school board demurred on the commissioners’ demand to convert Farmington Road school land into baseball fields. The same commissioners have plotted new ways to knife the school system this …