Wise response

Published 9:54 am Thursday, December 8, 2011

To the Editor:

In response to Mr. Parker’s 12/1 letter, where in my letter of Nov. 12th did I say that I did not like Bertie County? My husband and I retired here five years ago and we love Bertie County. We are active in our church and our community and – to answer your question – THAT’S why we are still here and why I wrote my letter. If I did not care, I would not have bothered.

Where did you get the idea that you have to be a “lifetime” resident in order to express an opinion? America is a very mobile nation. Your suggestion that you must be a lifetime resident in order to have an opinion would silence the majority of Americans. I was taught that all you need is a solid foundation of beliefs based on the Constitution, and a willingness to stay informed.

I believe in accountability by public officials to their constituents. In the minutes of the closed meeting on 8/17/09, it appears that Mr. Lamb wrote his own contract and presented it to the commissioners. Hardly a case of “taking the raise that was offered to him”. Also, there was no dollar or percentage amount mentioned, however his justification for asking for the raise was that the Dare County manager made $300,000 (actually he makes $239,794) and that the Beaufort County Manager makes $135.000.

It has been pointed out by the Friends of Bertie that Dare’s tax valuation is 16 times bigger than Bertie and Beaufort’s is 4 times bigger. Bertie has only 54% the population of Dare and 43%. of Beaufort. Dare County has 740 county employees and Bertie has 137. His comparisons were hardly “apples to apples”.

In the open meeting that followed on 8/17/2009, it appears that neither the newspaper reporters nor the citizens in attendance understood the magnitude of the vote being taken. If they had, the newspaper would have certainly reported it and there would have been some stir among the taxpayers. “Legalese” can be a difficult language to understand.

Were you aware that the John Locke Foundation gave Bertie County a “D” rating – the lowest – in transparency. The definition of transparency is “free from pretense or deceit…..easily detected or seen through……..readily understood……or characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.“ We are 1 of only 5 counties that have the lowest “D” rating. Change in leadership is needed.

As for “Friends of Bertie” having only 25 members, I don’t know the exact numbers. However, because of the outcry about Mr. Lamb’s raise, the commissioner’s meetings following that discovery in February 2011, had to twice be moved to the courthouse because the commissioner’s meeting room was full, as was the adjoining hallway. Over a hundred people attended each meeting. In both meetings, people were very vocal in their disapproval. In meetings since, I’ve heard the same complaints.

Roberta L. Wise