Board’s dysfunctionshows itself againin public setting

Usually, the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year, which bookends the Christmas celebration, is a time for reflection, forgiveness, thankfulness and resolutions to do better and be better once the old calendar is discarded and the new one is hung.

Such is not the case for the Bladen County Board of Commissioners.

Monday’s meeting was infused with just as much, if not more, dysfunction that any previous gathering of these elected officials — and the public, whose money this group spends and lives they directly affect with their decisions, should be getting weary of the apparently maladjusted behavior.

It was bad enough two weeks ago when an Abbott and Costello routine broke out that focused on which commissioner would sit where after a new chairman and vice-chairman were elected — except the comedy was actually pretty shameful and embarrassing.

But on Monday, a sequel was set in motion when Commissioner Michael Cogdell made a motion to adopt a policy that specifically states where the chairman, vice-chairman and immediate past chairman would be assigned to sit, as well as who on the board would determine where the remaining commissioners would sit. And if those in attendance looked carefully enough, they might have seen the puppet strings that exist on the left side of the board go into motion as Commissioner Delilah Blanks immediately gave her second.

While the right side of the board, as usual, never murmured a peep, Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson stated that it’s a shame the board would need a policy to determine something that’s been happening for years without much trouble. And he’s right. Commissioner Jimmie Smith tried to get Cogdell to “just move on,” to no avail.

But the whole thing, silly as it might be on the surface, was yet another opportunity for anyone watching it unfold to see just how individual agendas take precedence over the important issues of the county. In the end, the Silly Seating Situation policy was narrowly approved when Chairman Russell Priest broke a 4-4 tie.

And, of course, the board was just getting warmed up.

A lengthy debate that bordered on a heated exchange ensued concerning a motion and vote that took place several months ago to give appropriated county money to charitable groups requesting funds. At the center, again, was Cogdell and his sidekick Blanks, who basically felt if there were additional monies available, it should be handed out.

But while Cogdell claimed he couldn’t recall his exact original motion and vote, he was reminded that the minutes from that meeting show his motion and vote was to give the groups the same amount given in the fiscal year 2014-15 budget. On top of that, those minutes were supposedly read by each commissioner — including Cogdell and Blanks — and approved at the next meeting. Case closed.

We had hoped a new year, on the heels of the previous month’s display of misfit menagerie, would at least begin with some semblance of common sense.

We were wrong.



“A true leader is one who is humble enough to admit their mistakes.”

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