Board member, mayor at odds over FOI costs

Published 10:23 am Thursday, October 10, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

For the second meeting in a row, Mocksville Town Board member Amy Vaughan-Jones read a prepared statement near the end of the regular meeting.

This time, her statements got under the skin of Mayor Will Marklin, which prompted a quick exchange between board members Brent Ward and Brian Williams.

Vaughan-Jones started by thanking the SBI and local sheriff’s department for increasing patrols in her neighborhood after a dead black snake was found on her mailbox and a political sign for Ward in her yard had been damaged. The SBI is investigating the incident, and she said they have identified suspects.

She said she had nothing to do with the removal of Sarge Butters from the Mocksville Police Department, to ask the town manager and police chief about that. “I had absolutely nothing to do with the removal … and I do not know where Sarge Butters is.” Sarge Butters was a live-in cat and Facbook presence for the department, suddenly removed in August.

She chided the mayor for making what she called a “false” statement to the media when the Sarge Butters story broke.

Then she went into recent Freedom of Information Act requests that have been filed, saying they have cost the town upwards of $25,000, and the cost is rising. The requests, she said, are from people who do not live in Mocksville. She mentioned Alan Bagshaw of Mt. Airy, Candace Burleson Kaufman and Kay Messer of Kernersville, whom she said were the sister-in-law and mother-in-law of Police Chief Pat Reagan. She also mentioned Devonte McKenith, a reporter for WXII TV news.

The whole incident, she said, is hurting the town’s reputation and its furture economic stability.

“It is creating an unfavorable view of our town by folks who do not live here,” she said. “What is your purpose and intent with your current mission?”

The out of towners, she said, are costing the town money in Freedom of Information requests.

When she finished, Marklin spoke up.

“If the board acts as a board and not as individuals, there would not be any expense to the taxpayers,” Marklin said, referring to Vaughan-Jones’ and Ward’s four-plus month push to Town Manager Matt Settlemyer to rid the department of Sarge Butters and investigate morale and other problems.

Then Ward said “you can’t have two board members make a statement about the P.D. (police department).” Williams countered, saying that Ward had ample time to make a statement about the police department as well.

“That is not a unit,” Ward said.

“You guys (Ward and Vaughan-Jones) need to learn what a unit looks like,” Williams said.

Ward countered that if you look up unity in dictionary, you wouldn’t find Williams’ picture.