To say Judy Porter Poe’s response to my column, “There they go again,” is factually challenged would be a huge understatement. As The Post pointed out I’ve never been a paid contributor to the paper. A simple phone call or e-mail to the editor by Mrs. Poe would’ve confirmed that fact. I write simply based on a sense of civic duty.
Despite Poe’s spin, the circumstances surrounding the forced resignations of former county managers Dan McMillan and Pat Mitchell are a matter of public record and were widely reported in the local media as they occurred. Poe’s unethical lying to the public about McMillan’s departure and her attempt to conspire with the other commissioners to keep the truth from the public is also a matter of record having been uncovered in e-mails obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
Poe accuses me of “attacking her as the lone female” on the commission. Fact is, she was chairwoman during McMillan’s forced resignation, vice chair during Mitchell’s and as a member of the independent DSS Board she publicly called for its dissolution just a couple days before Director Donna Weaver’s frustrated resignation following more than two years of badgering by Poe and other commissioners. Instead of owning her actions as a former county leader, Poe demurs by insinuating I’m sexist when, in fact, two of the wronged senior public servants I’m “defending” are female.
And, with respect to Pat Mitchell, apparently Poe doesn’t understand that a “senior” public servant is senior because of the position they hold, not the number of years they’ve been employed.
More troublesome is that Poe thinks her actions towards county employees who wanted to demonstrate support for Mitchell in the aftermath of her removal were not threatening. Instead of remaining silent as a competent leader would, Poe, as the words in her own letter explain, relayed to employees that they should “go ahead and leave as there are many people who would like to have your job.” What county employee wouldn’t see that as a threat coming from the mouth of a county commissioner?
Poe says Commissioner Gary Roark is “a good Christian gentleman and has served the citizens of Ashe County well.” That’s very admirable, but it doesn’t mean he’s been a competent Chairman. After all, he’s only followed the example Poe set, though in Roark’s defense I don’t believe he’s behaved unethically as Poe has.
Astonishingly, Poe’s letter implies that current County Manager Sam Yearick is a “bean counter,” “pencil pusher” and “micro-manager.” Wow! Poe was instrumental in hand-picking Dr. Pat Mitchell as county manager even though Mitchell hadn’t applied for the job. Less than two years later Poe and a slim majority of commissioners forced Mitchell out. Yearick was then hired despite his work background being largely limited to the accounting field (just like Poe). It seemed his primary qualification was being the Chairman of the Caldwell County Republican Party – a political partisan. Two years later Poe’s now disparaging him. What does that say about Poe’s judgment as these were two hires she actively supported?
Yearick, through no fault of his own, has been put in a position where he’s having to learn on the job as he goes. And with a county commission that lacks vision and has a history of running off its most senior public servants, that’s got to be a hard challenge to overcome.
As I’ve publicly admitted before, in my first election after moving into the county I voted for Poe. I quickly came to regret it and consider it the worst vote I’ve cast in my life. Poe betrayed the voter’s trust and once lost trust can’t be regained. Consequently, voters removed her from office, but she’s filed to run for a commission seat once again. We can do so much better in Ashe County.
I feel no ill will towards Mrs. Poe, but in reading her letter with all of its logic flaws and the many issues with grammar, punctuation and spelling, I’m reminded of the TV show, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”. Mrs. Poe, please stop embarrassing yourself and the county.
Ken Lynn is a retired USAF colonel. He’s an adjunct online instructor with the USAF Air University.