One party government is not working in Ashe County.
Time after time, we have seen our commissioners disregard the interests of our county in favor of political and personal interests. The misleading statement the commissioners issued concerning the county manager debacle is another example of this (reference Ashe Post & Times: https://bit.ly/2CxF8eh).
The interests of the people of Ashe County can only be served by a forthright and honest county commission; unfortunately, the statement the board of commissioners issued last week falls a bit short of “forthright and honest.”
Here are eight reasons the Democratic Party feels the commission’s statement is untrue and omits facts:
1. The letter contradicts documented history concerning County Manager Sam Yearick’s relationship with Ashe county.
Commissioners state in their letter that the purpose of putting Yearick on leave was to allow time to investigate various claims about Yearick’s actions and performance. However, on May 21 when Yearick was put on leave, Commissioner Williams Sands stated in the Ashe Post and Times the reason for putting Yearick on leave was “it was time for change and time to move forward.” Sands in no way indicated there was any investigation being performed. The same newspaper article states Yearick inquired if he was under investigation? Commissioner Todd McNeil responded, “it was absolutely not the case, and that nobody has been accused or under investigation.” Also in the same newspaper article McNeil said commissioners collected surveys from county department heads that included questions related to Yearick’s performance.” The only logical conclusion from these actions is that when they saw the survey results, they decided to put Yearick on leave and planned to dismiss him.
Apparently, the commissioners had already made up their minds about dismissing Yearick. It is the Democratic Party’s opinion the only thing they have been investigating is how to get out of Yearick’s ridiculous contract.
2. Vital information about the Yearick situation has been omitted.
The letter submitted does not specify the cost of the two options that exist due to the previous actions performed by the board of commissioners: Place Yearick on leave or terminate his employment.
The commissioners do not specify what kind of investigation, by whom and for what purpose.
3. The letter ignores the commission’s responsibility for creating the situation in the first place
In May, the commissioners should have either put Yearick on leave until the end of his contract or fired him. They should have decided whether they were going to honor his contract or not. His contract states if he gets involuntarily dismissed he gets two years severance plus benefits. No specifics about reasons for termination are included.
The commissioners should have apologized in the letter to all Ashe County citizens for creating Yearick’s ridiculous contract, in the first place, and for the burden they have placed on the taxpayers of Ashe County.
4. The release of the letter appears to be timed for maximum political benefit.
There was no reason for commissioners to make their statement a few days before the election. They should have resolved these issues earlier this summer.
All the letter needed to say was our county manager is still on administrative leave and has 15 months left on his contract. Commissioners choose to leave Yearick on leave.
The commissioners finished the letter with politically motivated jargon days before an election. They say they feel Ashe County is headed in the right direction, a positive direction for Ashe County and no additional expense will be incurred because of these decisions.
The Democratic party feels there is uncertainty in Ashe County’s future.
We fear what may happen next and we fear more of our tax dollars will be wasted paying for this situation.
6. The letter does not address any measures to prevent future litigation.
Will there be litigation in the future if Yearick remains on leave?
Can Yearick sue Ashe County? Is there liability to the county if a manager remains on leave for extended period of time? So many questions were not addressed!
6. The letter gives no specifics ... on anything.
The letter uses non-specific language.
The commissioners tell us about the outstanding job they have done in the past months and how there is peace and harmony everywhere in the county government. This is difficult to believe considering several county employees are now taking on more work, and they are now being led by the fourth county manager in recent years who is being asked to perform two highly demanding positions.
The commissioners talked about litigation expense and the time and effort of the staff fighting litigation of a disputed contract. They completely failed to answer the question as to how many dollars it would potentially cost us, the taxpayers.
7. The letter obscures the commission’s actual reasons for keeping Yearick on administrative leave.
The board of commissioners is trying to get by with paying Yearick less money by keeping him on leave as opposed to dismissing his employment and paying two years of pay plus benefits on top of what he has already been paid.
8. There is no explanation on how the county can operate effectively without a county manager for the next 15 months.
In the letter, the BOC continues to acknowledge that Adam Stumb is serving as interim county manager. They speak favorably of Stumb’s performance. Ashe County, however, deserve someone who is not being asked to do two demanding jobs.
How can anyone continue being an effective county planner during a time when we are involved in asphalt plant litigation and at the same time be the county manager we need for Ashe County during the most troubling times we have seen for our county government in in many years?
We are positive managing the staff must be tough considering they have now had four different bosses in recent years: Dan McMillan, Pat Mitchell, Sam Yearick and now Adam Stumb.
Ashe County citizens, the commissioners have already given Ashe County a black eye. Industries will not want to move to Ashe County and give our citizens good jobs when our county government is in such turmoil. Our county’s image can effect our tourism. The past statewide bad press about Ashe County can impact us in many ways.
The Democratic party is asking our Republicans and unaffiliated friends and neighbors to please forget about your political party affiliations this commissioners election. Vote for change. Vote Rex Goss and Richard Blackburn. We need to end the corruption in our county commission. If we continue one-party rule, individual commissioners will keep making decisions based on politics and personal benefit and not based on what is good for the citizens of Ashe County.
Again, one party rule is not working in Ashe County.
Submitted by Ralph Sorrell, chairman Ashe