The Piedmont City Council meeting on March 28, 2012, discussed topics such as worries and concerns from citizens, the Piedmont Police Department, possible fundraisers for the town, and the audience witnessed an argument among the Council members.
The beginning of the meeting started off with concerned citizens voicing opinions and asking questions. One such man, Dale Clark, had large concerns about the children of the town and how police activity deals with issues such as break-ins and, for instance, a smashed car window. “Do we pay the police department or not?” he asked of the council.
“Yea,” Mayor Lester Clifford replied. “Between the hours of eight and four in the morning.” The Mayor also reported that the officer on duty for the evening for March 28, 2012, had called in sick so the Sheriff would be taking over.
“What kind of protection do we have?” Clark asked. “[…] We don’t have anything up here what-so-ever.” He also went on to remark how he believes that school children are unsafe while waiting on the school buses due to drivers passing by at excessive speeds. “ […] This is not right.” Clark also goes on to state an incident where he feels the state police department did not do their duties to the full extent. The incident involved a man who broke a car window and slashed the tires of said vehicle in front of the Tri-Towns store. He also claimed that they found the suspect, but allowed him to walk free although a statement was taken. One Council woman asked him why he did not go up to the Sheriff and ask him why he was not doing his job. He replied, “That’s not my job. That’s his job. […] Why should I stick my nose in their business?”
The Mayor, a few minutes later, remarked that he agreed that the police officers “need to do their jobs.”
The next person to voice her questions and concerns was Nancy Wade. She directed her questions to Council Member Ray Hall. She asked him about federal charges and he replied, “The only federal regards that I’m aware of, federal investigation, regards the FEMA trailers.” He also declined to answer several of her other questions. She asked him if he had authorized any gun purchases paid for by city funds. His response was,
“No.” He also denied that the FEMA trailers were purchased with city funds. Hall did admit to authorizing and signing for a gas purchase for a police cruiser that was in fact paid for by the Piedmont treasury. Nancy went on to ask if he had tried to fund-raise for the city pool. He said yes but also back fired a question towards her, asking her if what she had done to raise money for the pool. “If your answer is nothing then I think you are going nowhere with this.”
Another council member then began to question Hall about the gas charges, but he stated only that it was necessary and a quicker way to get on with their duties.
An audience member was quick to say, “You [council members] aren’t in agreement here. It bothers me…bad, real bad.”
Shortly afterwards the meeting was interrupted by the fire alarm and resumed within minutes.
At the end of the meeting, Hall once again brought up the FEMA trailer accusations. “Someone said I got involved with the FEMA trailers to get back at someone. That’s a bunch of bull. […] When we left the meeting, no one did nothing about it. And I didn’t feel right about that. I came back to City Hall the next morning after the meeting. […] I had a private meeting with the mayor. I didn’t want to be a part of a cover up. The Mayor pretty much blew me off.”
The Mayor banged his gavel. “You gonna accuse me a bunch of times. I didn’t know anything about those FEMA trailers.”
Hall pulled out a flash drive and reported that it had the private conversation with the Mayor recorded. He also said that he was going to send it to all the papers.
With this being said, tempers in the audience flared and many walked out. The Mayor made a move to adjourn the meeting and a council member seconded the motion. The council continued to argue over the FEMA trailers as the audience left.