Veto override rejected

Published 12:20 am Thursday, July 7, 2011

Commissioners turn back veto override request for voter ID

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday turned back a resolution presented by one of its members supporting an override of Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of a bill requiring North Carolina’s voters to show photo identifications before casting in-person ballots.

While the measure passed the General Assembly last month along party lines, two Republican members of the county board joined forces with the panel’s three Democratic members to defeat the measure.

The resolution, presented by Commissioner Stan Deatherage, failed in a vote, with Deatherage and Commissioner Hood Richardson casting the only votes in favor of the proposal. Five other commissioners voted against the resolution.

“(T)he Beaufort County Board of Commissioners do hereby resolve that the North Carolina House of Representatives, and the North Carolina Senate must override the veto of Governor Beverly Perdue so that elections in North Carolina must be honest, legal and fair so that we may preserve the Republic, and continue it for future generations of freedom loving Americans,” the resolution reads.

Deatherage and Richardson argued that the measure would discourage voter fraud.

“What’s the right to vote if your vote is being canceled out by somebody who is not eligible,” Deatherage said.

Opponents of the measure said it would discourage older adults and black residents — less likely to have photo identification —from voting.

“We have senior people who don’t have birth certificates and ID cards,” said Commissioner Ed Booth.

He said that cases of fraud are few, and that placing obstacles to voting is reminiscent of laws in the pre-civil rights era in the South.

Commissioner Al Klemm agreed with Booth. He said the measure, as approved by the state Legislature, could prevent the county’s older residents from voting.

“It’s my opinion the bill that is written needs to be refined as it refers to the elderly,” he said. “In a way, you are disenfranchising those people.”

While the measure passed the Senate with enough support to overturn Perdue’s veto, it lacked the needed votes in the House of Representatives.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to advertise for a bid, known as an “upset bid,” that would top one made by A&E Holdings LLC of Washington to buy 10 acres at the Washington Industrial Park off of Cherry Run Road west of the city.

The company submitted a $90,000 bid for the property and paid a deposit of $4,500 in conjunction with the bid, said William Mayo, the county’s lawyer.

In an interview after the meeting, interim County Manager Jim Chrisman would not specify what plans the corporation has for the property.

He said the commissioners “have historically never sold a lot to an industry that did not intend to build something in the near future.”

In articles of organization filed with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, Charles W. Rasmussen, president of P&G Manufacturing, is listed as the initial registered agent for A&E Holdings LLC.

In other business, the board:

  • Voted unanimously to create an audit committee, as recommended by Richardson, that will be tasked with working with the county’s auditors to ensure an accurate audit and make recommendations to the auditor for areas of additional review. Richardson said the committee is needed “to make sure a proper audit is done.” The audit committee will work to develop a request for proposals for companies that want to serve as auditors for the county in coming years.
  • Voted unanimously to create a committee to study companies that could supply systems for upgrading technology in the county’s register of deeds and tax administrator’s offices. The board appointed Booth, Deatherage and Klemm to serve on that committee.
  • Voted 6-1 to approve $4,073.93 in travel expenses, with Richardson casting the sole dissenting vote.
  • Voted unanimously to increase the mileage reimbursement rate for travel to 55.5 cents per mile from July 1 through Dec. 31 in keeping with a recommendation from the Internal Revenue Service. The new rate is an increase of 4.5 cents from the 51-cent rate in effect for the first six months of 2011.
  • Voted unanimously to continue in the “electing status” for the Work First Program and appointed Booth to work with a committee to develop the county’s Work First Program plan. The “electing status” allows the county to make modifications to the Work First Program to compensate for local conditions, the commissioners were told. A Work First Program plan for Beaufort County is scheduled to be presented to the commissioners in September.
  • Voted unanimously to concur with the re-appointment of Steve Fuchs to a three-year term to Washington’s Board of Adjustment. The board delayed until August appointments to the Beaufort Regional Health System Board of Commissioners.

All commissioners attended the meeting.