The full story is long. I mean looooong! I started typing up the whole thing, and may again someday, but I believe it became too long for people to want to read. However, the political antics of Commissioner Rape and Commissioner Rushing are ridiculously childish and need to be known by every county resident.
First, a small synopsis. Commissioner Rushing had questions about a $32 million water project. He felt that the firm who had recommended the project and some of the properties benefiting had political ties to several commissioners and this should be investigated. Commissioner Rape took offense to the accusations and the matter was tabled until an investigation could be accomplished. A small investigation was accomplished by the next meeting and Commissioner Rushing's questions seemed to be answered satisfactorily. Commissioner Rushing motioned to pass the project that he had held up the week prior. However, Commissioner Williams demanded that Commissioner Rushing apologize first and admit that the previous accusations were not true. Commissioner Rushing deflected to the county manager, Mark Watson, who affirmed that there weren't any conflicts of interest with the projects or any commissioners. They all continued to fight and bicker until it was time for the vote. The water project was voted down 2-3 with Commissioner Williams joining Commissioner Rushing on the losing side.
Immediately after the vote, Commissioner Rape called up Deputy County Manager, Michelle Lancaster, to suggest alternative projects to spend $32 million on. As Ms. Lancaster started to discuss other ideas to water, Commissioner Rushing became agitated at the situation. You see, he probably didn't expect the water issue to fail. It's an important issue at the top of the list for all county residents. But to have a list of ways to spend the money ready to go seconds after the water projects fail was a double-whammy. While I'll reserve judgment on some of the alternative projects that passed, there was one that stood out as a boon for the county, and that's laying infrastructure for broadband to more rural areas.
The following is my analysis on the incident. I have not spoken to any of the commissioners about this and have zero evidence that my theories are correct. But, let's take a look at this...
It appears that Commissioner Rushing had tried to make a political play and used his stage to make implications that could discredit his biggest primary opponent. The problem is that Commissioner Rape is just as cunning and formulated his own plan. The water project was actually important to Commissioner Rushing, but not to Commissioner Rape. Commissioner Rape tanked the whole project because of Commissioner Rushing's "allegations". Commissioner Rape even had the staff ready to go with other projects to vote on. This would ensure that the water project could never come back.
At one point Commissioner Williams pressed Commissioner Rushing about making a motion for a $1 billion bond for water "if he's that concerned about it". Commissioner Rushing stated that if the right people win in November, the water issue will be resolved correctly. Bullshit. if you have to have your own puppets on the team to pass the projects you want, you don't have the best plans.
As I watched the immaturity of our county representatives play out, I felt nothing but embarrassment and shame. These are REAL people whose lives are being affected by these antics. Because Commissioner Rape was angry at Commissioner Rushing, people who need clean water are now hung out to dry. Because Commissioner Rushing tried to make a political play, he set in motion the events that ended with the county commissioners letting down their constituents. All county commissioners are to blame for this failure to govern.
We are being represented by folks who can only work with their assigned minions or will sacrifice real people over political posturing. It's time to allow the adults back in the room.
(While most of what I've written is from my first-hand account of the incident, a shorter version can be found here: https://www.thecharlotteweekly.com/ucweekly/first-draft-union-county-commissioners-need-a-group-hug/article_f9387802-c0ae-11ec-a901-0759d715b41f.html)
*I'd like to add, to avoid confusion, that I believe that County Manager Watson and Deputy County Manager Michelle Lancaster were unwilling pawns in this political charade. Even though they were mentioned by name in my screed, their roles in the above mentioned scenario were in-line with their duties as county employees and should not share blame in any of this.