First foul on new Maggie board
Just because government boards stay within their legal boundaries, doesn’t mean they are operating in the spirit of openness.
Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen was completely within its right to discuss its appointment to the Haywood County Tourist Development Authority on Feb. 26 during a regular board meeting. However, if board members wanted to be completely open in their process of replacing their appointment, they would have placed the specific item on the agenda instead of bringing it up during “other business.”
For anyone there listening to the discussion, it is easy to assume the board members already had their minds made up about ousting representative Rob Edwards and replacing him with Alderman Mike Eveland. That means board members could have been having these discussions outside of a public meeting.
Even if the issue had come up after the agenda was already set, the more open way to handle it would have been to discuss the issue but not take a vote on it until the next meeting.
To make matters worse, Edwards had to be notified about his replacement by a reporter the morning after the meeting. Not one town official had bothered to contact Edwards regarding his appointment before making the decision to replace him.
Mayor Ron DeSimone pointed out during the meeting that the town’s representative on the TDA should represent the interest of the board and not people in the community. That leads us to believe the board was unsatisfied with recent comments Edwards made at a TDA meeting about the proposed increase to the occupancy tax, which raised questions about the action. Board members also said the decision to change the appointment had nothing to do with Edwards’ job performance, but no one’s buying that story either.
Everyone knows the Maggie Valley board is in favor of the idea of increasing the occupancy tax to fund tourism-related infrastructure, with the exception of Alderman Phillip Wight. It appears the board is just trying to stifle any dissent on the issue. If not, why wouldn’t they just call Edwards and explain that he is there to represent the board?
We don’t know for sure whether the board had ulterior motives on this issue, but hasty decisions without public notice only leads to distrust. In the future, we hope the board will always air on the side of openness because honesty is always the easiest route if there is nothing to hide.