Public displayover seatingis a disgrace

Every single member of Bladen County Board of Commissioners should be embarrassed for the immature show they put on in front of the public and media on Monday night.

The occasion, in addition to the regularly scheduled meeting, was the election of a chairman and vice-chairman by the nine-member board. It all seemed simple enough — nominate, vote, congratulate and move on.

But not these folks.

Instead, there were plenty of swirling rumors about candidates not wanting the position, then changing their mind after a back-room deal that included “I’ll support your nomination if you support mine” agreement.

Whether that took place or not — and it surely appeared that it did — doesn’t really matter. What does matter is just how divided and racially hard-headed this board is.

Two candidates for each position were nominated and, with a 6-3 vote each time, Russell Priest was elected chairman and Arthur Bullock as vice-chairman. While we wish them good luck over the next 12 months, we also think it’s going to be a rough year in the basement of the Bladen County Courthouse.

To make matters even more juvenile on Monday, the election of a new chairman and vice-chairman set in motion a comedic and edgy discussion about where displaced Chairman Charles Ray Peterson would sit. Had there been a meal served for those in the audience, it would have been a wonderful dinner and sideshow worth an admission.

As it was, each of the commissioners went to a reception for Marsha White, who had retired from the county’s Board of Elections — all, that is, except Commissioners Delilah Blanks and Jimmie Smith, who spent the time talking about Peterson and the pending seating situation.

Blanks has been a more-than-willing thorn in Peterson’s side for quite some time, and it looked as if Smith had no intention of moving over one seat to fill Bullock’s former spot and give up his place to the right of the new chairman, which is usually where the recent chairman, in this case Peterson, would move to.

The whole thing came to a head when all of the commissioners returned, and those in the audience either turned away in disbelief or simply chuckled to themselves over grownups acting like children.

The antagonist was clearly Blanks, and Smith seemed all too willing to be her accomplice. It could have been an easy spot for Priest to make his first decision as chairman, by directing that Peterson assume either Smith’s or Bullock’s seat, but he did nothing to diffuse the issue whatsoever.

If this board can’t even figure out where its members will sit without making fools of themselves, then it leaves us with damaged confidence about its ability to make decisions important to this county and its residents.



“Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example.”

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