Lee Commissioners' Meeting: One gate, two guards, and an AFP gatekeeper

The Republican-led Lee County Board of Commissioners recently announced town-hall style meetings around the county. The problem is, their first meeting will be at the gated community Carolina Trace, which directly contradicts NC open meetings laws. When The Rant, a local blog, inquired about why this meeting was, essentially, closed to the public by virtue of its location, the Republicans took an interesting rightward turn to solve it.

Rather than move the location to an area outside the gates (as suggested by at least one Democratic commissioner), the meeting notice was changed to indicate that meeting attendees are to ask the guards at the gate to contact Lloyd Jennings, the “the founder of the Lee County Chapter of Americans for Prosperity.”

So, to attend this official meeting of the Lee County Board of Commissioners, the public will literally need to ask the founder of the local AFP chapter if he will allow them to attend. And, if he doesn’t allow it? Is that what the guards are for? Are the Republicans on the county commission really this blatant in their disregard for the public? There’s a gate, guards, and a right-wing gatekeeper who indicate so.


At least Womack isn't running

At least Womack isn't running for reelection.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Pardon me...

what country is that meeting in? Ameristans for Prosperistan?

You mean ...

... Lee County includes more than just Carolina Trace? Oh dear ... we thought those run down neighborhoods were in someone else's county.

Perhaps we could invite them in just this once. If they don't smell too funny or tear up our lawn. It's sooo hard to get good yard help nowadays, dear....

North Carolina's broad Open

North Carolina's broad Open Meetings Law ensures that government stays accessible and accountable. The first notice was a major screw up. Seems like it is just another instance of a person not familiar with legal requirements. It can be tough for people without some sort of legal training to be able to "spot issues" like the giant one seen here. I don't think it was devious, just stupid.

With that said, it seems the mistake was quickly corrected by making it clear that the meeting is open to the public. The revised notice reads,

"If a citizen wishes to attend the meeting at Carolina Trace and has a problem at the gate, please have the guard contact Mr. Lloyd Jennings."

This makes it sound like either the gates will be open or the guard will know there is a public meeting in the clubhouse and wave people in. The notice just says that if there is some sort of issue, then Mr. Jennings is the person who clear it up. It doesn't sound like anyone needs Mr. Jenning's permission to enter, only that he is the "point person".

While I have never heard of a public meeting in a residential gated community, I have heard of public meetings in locations that are usually not open to the public. Many public meetings take place at the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is an otherwise closed facility. Just like here, they make the needed arrangements. I'm not familiar with Lee County, but it sounds like Carolina Trace's clubhouse is a good place to reach out to a part of the community. I'm guessing the clubhouse is free or very inexpensive to rent for the evening too.

Of course, if anyone is not allowed to reach the clubhouse and attend the meeting, then head's should roll.

If I'm not mistaken Carolina

If I'm not mistaken Carolina Trace is the (or one of the) location for Lee County GOP meetings, so I'm sure it is an excellent meeting place. : )

I'm a moderate Democrat.