Richardson: more oversight needed

Published 6:33 pm Friday, November 2, 2012

Beaufort County needs to improve its oversight of its government agencies, said Hood Richardson, a Republican seeking one of the four seats available on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners this election cycle.
“The county commissioners, since I’ve been a commissioner, have done a very poor job of knowing what was going on in the various departments,” he said. “I’m not talking day to day, what’s called micromanaging. I’m talking about big policy issues like the hospital that we lost because, quite frankly, the county commissioners sat here for more than 12 years (doing nothing) because I was fussing the hospital was slowly but surely going bankrupt. There was no oversight put on that. Everybody sat here and watched it go down the drain. The same thing has happened in the health department. Some of those regulations in the health department are enforced oppressively on the public. I’ve had people tell me they’ll never come to Beaufort County to build a restaurant simply because of the health department. The county commissioners are not providing oversight.”
Richardson said commissioners are elected to provide oversight of these agencies and it’s something they should be doing.
“The sheriff’s department, in particular, is a loose cannon. Nobody knows what’s going on the in the sheriff’s department, other than the sheriff. A lot of favors are handed out. We are not effective in our fight against narcotics. We arrest a lot of street dealers, but we never get Mr. Big,” Richardson said.
Richard takes the position the county may not need to build a new jail — just yet.
“There are a lot of jails in North Carolina that are in a lot worse shop than the Beaufort County jail,” Richardson said. “If we build a new jail, it needs to be scoped out so that it’s most efficient jail we can build for the public.”
Richardson noted that after Hyde County built a new jail several years ago, that county could not afford to open it because county leaders did not think ahead about the cost to staff and operate the jail.
“We don’t need to do that. We need to build a jail that requires the least amount of personnel to keep the most criminals that we can keep. That really should be built in downtown Washington at the courthouse because that’s the most efficient place,” Richardson said.
The incumbent said building a new jail outside downtown Washington would be akin to the last school in Belhaven being moved several miles outside that town — “the beginning of the end of the Town of Belhaven.”
“The Belhaven population has been going down ever since. … The same thing will happen to the city of Washington. If we start moving government out of the city of Washington, it will be a sad day for the city of Washington,” Richardson said.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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