by Sam Hieb
Funny, I was talking with a fellow blogger on the phone last night and he mentioned that he was watching the Dec. 10 Guilford County Commissioners meeting and thought it was odd that chairman Skip Alston recused himself before his fellow commissioners pencil-whipped taxpayer-financing for the new downtown hotel.
Evidently, no one else thought it was odd, either, because we found out later that Alston was the broker on the deal that relocated the hotel from Lee and S. Elm to its new site on Davie Street.
We’re also just now learning that commissioners didn’t really know what they were approving:
Commissioners (Linda) Shaw, Paul Gibson, Mike Winstead, Kirk Perkins and Billy Yow said that confusion led them to vote before they had all the relevant information — even though Payne repeatedly explained the process at the Dec. 10 meeting.
“We didn’t ask all the questions we should have,” said Gibson . “I thought I understood what we were voting for, but clearly I didn’t. There clearly should have been more discussion.”
Perkins said the commissioners were eager to approve something that would inject money into the local economy. The bonds seemed like a way to do that, Perkins said, but the commissioners might not have been as careful in approving them as they would have been with local tax money.
“I will say that I certainly didn’t understand,” Winstead said. “If we all completely understood what was going on, there would have been much more discussion of it, much more scrutiny.”
It used to be that —–agree or disagree with our raucous group of commissioners —- you could count on a lively debate on hot-topic issues. But last week they approved the taxpayer-funded aquatic center without discussion or debate, and now we learn that they simply bowed before the throne of fed stimulus money, just their counterparts on the City Council.
Disappointing, to say the least.