Commissioner Raymond Cummings said during a recent retreat of the county board that he had not fielded a single complaint about his and fellow commissioners’ pay, benefits and discretionary fund.
If Cummings is to be believed, his luck runs out Monday night, as a citizens group is urging residents to attend the meeting of the county Board of Commissioners to express their objections. We will caution Cummings and fellow commissioners who are guilty of seeing only what they want to see: If 50 people show up, that doesn’t mean that the remaining 134,950 residents of Robeson County think it’s fine and dandy that commissioners in the poorest county in the state, one saddled with one of the highest tax rates, are among the best paid.
All of Robeson County’s residents couldn’t squeeze into the meeting room anyway.
Lynn Locklear, a member of Citizens for Integrity in Government, is sending out the invitations for the protest effort. If you want to join Locklear and his group, the meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the county administration building on North Elm Street.
If you go, be respectful. If you believe the commissioners are unworthy of such a gesture, their office is. Understand that if you speak, your time is up after three minutes. Also know that the commissioners are bound by policy to sit there and absorb the blows, and that protocol doesn’t allow for a debate.
We doubt there would be a debate anyway. We don’t know of any commissioner willing to publicly defend his pay and benefits, but for some reason, there aren’t enough votes for the matter to be discussed in an open meeting — as Chairman Noah Woods months ago promised would happen.
If you are skeptical that anything will eventually happen, a position this newspaper is drifting toward, history is in your corner. A very similar public conversation was had a decade ago, with the commissioners at that time promising to make changes, but that never happened as their delay tactics enabled them to continue their raid on the public treasury. Since that time, their pay, benefits and discretionary funds have become increasingly obscene.
The commissioners who should be angry about their lack of action are Tom Taylor and Cummings.
It was Taylor who almost six months ago made a motion for a study of the commissioners’ pay and benefits. Cummings winked, then offered a second, and the motion passed — this is rich — unanimously.
So we are left to wonder why the study was called for in September, two months before Taylor was facing re-election, if the plan all along was to stick it in the corner to gather dust, only to be revisited — if at all — when the budget is being crafted for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The question is rhetorical, because if you can read today’s Our View, then you know the answer.
It isn’t a riddle: We all got played.
The commissioners believe they are bulletproof. On Monday night, they might wish they were deaf as well.