Resident: ‘Cat thing a political hit job’

Published 9:49 am Thursday, November 14, 2019

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A resident chastised Mocksville officials at the November Town Board meeting for their handling of public records requests.

Patrick Hennelly, a second generation American from Ireland, said: “I am here today as a citizen of this town because you got my Irish up.”

A former highway patrol officer and current magistrate, Hennelly said “this whole cat thing was nothing but a political hit job.”

He was referring to Sarge Butters, a live-in cat at the department who had become a Facebook star, and who was removed last summer. The fallout from disgruntled fans included several Freedom Of Information Act requests, getting correspondence among officers and town officials.

“Why was there a need to have Capt. (Jeff) Finney’s, an officer who resigned, phone dumped (getting information on calls)? Why not all administrative officers, Major (Koula) Black’s, Chief (Pat) Reagan’s?”

He was also upset that his personal information, as well as that of two other magistrates and a superior court judge, were exposed “to the entire world.”

“Mr. Attorney,” he said, speaking to Al Binshoff, “you get paid good money as town attorney. How hard would it have been for someone to redact the phone numbers of judicial officials?”

He said having the phone reviewed in Rowan County was a farce and conflict of interest because Major Black’s husband is the chief of detectives there.

“What this has caused is judicial officials to now reconsider how we communicate with officers,” Hennelly said.

He then went to the assessment of the police department now being conducted, and said he had heard that depending on who won the election, the assessment may not be adhered to. He asked for a show of hands of board members who favor following the assessment. All four – Brian Williams, Rob Taylor, Eric Southern, and Amy Vaughan-Jones, raised their hands. Brent Ward was not at the meeting.

Alan Bagshaw of Mt. Airy, who helped start a Save Sarge Butters Facebook page and had made some of those requests for public information, said things didn’t have to happen the way they did.

“It’s sad this town is being torn apart by a cat … and there are members of this board who have allowed it to happen,” Bagshaw said.