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Final grade for the Chatham Coalition? A big fat F

By Patrick H. Barnes, IV
Posted Thursday, August 19, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - Dear Chatham citizens, and especially, John Hammond, Jan Nichols, Jefferey Starkweather, Sally Kost, and Mark Barroso,

What I am about to say isn't going to be easy. I've been asking myself for days, is this the right thing to do? In the end, I believe it is. Why? Because if this county is to be led by individuals stating they will hold others accountable, then they themselves must ultimately face being held accountable.

No one can tell this but me, because I was a part of it, and it was my big mouth that planted this seed in Jefferey's head. Not that it was my intent. Had Jeffrey kept private conversations private, I wouldn't be here today. I've already apologized to dad, two years ago, so no need to involve him any further.

Six years ago, when Jeff and I were first getting to know each other, we would spend hours talking together, about everything. He had had a troubled relationship with his father growing up, and I opened up about mine. These were private conversations, that four years later, a man consumed by greed, and an overinflated ego, was planning to twist, and leak to the press at the beginning of that particular election cycle - character assassination at it's worst.

I had been in Puerto Rico for ten days, on vacation, and had just gotten back, when I called dad, and jokingly stated, "Do you need to call the sheriff, and let him know I'm back in town?" He said, “No, everything 's under control now. But do you have any idea where Jefferey may have gotten these ideas from?”

See, that morning, dad and Jefferey had had an "altercation". Basically, Commissioner Barnes confronted Jefferey about that intended article. And it wasn't pretty.

I was floored. I was embarrassed, and ashamed. I cried. I told him, and asked him to forgive me for being so stupid, and thoughtless. He stated, "You're still my son". And then I cried some more. And then, I went ballistic.

I called Karl Kachergis. He groaned, and then told me. A week earlier, Jefferey had called him, and said he was planning on leaking a story to the press about Dad. There was no way he would be able to run again after the story was printed, and would basically be "shamed" right out of political existence. He was asking Karl to support him in this endeavor, and was asking him to have the Democratic Party set up to support him, as well. Maybe not the exact words, but definitely the gist.

Karl told Jeff he would have none of it, and then asked me, for the sake of the Democratic Party, to please keep it under wraps, it would be dealt with from within.

Well, um, that didn't happen.

Karl, sorry, man, but I will not go the rest of my life unheard.

All I could see was red, all I could taste was blood, and it was Jefferey's. I called Jeff, and he told me I didn't understand, that Dad had threatened him.

CHF, please don't get on me about making threats, 'cause this is a recounting of the past, and I'm making a figurative statement about the old West. But, Jeff, in the Old West, if pop hadn't done it, I would have. What he was inferring that day was that he was an older fella, and I had a long life ahead of me - he was just going to save me the trouble, and the guilt.

I told Jeff I had a few phone calls to make, and that I wanted, and expected, an explanation, in full, and an apology, that evening.

I haven't heard from him since. I have seen him twice, and in both cases, he has turned, and walked as fast as he could in the other direction.

Basically, I had made some comments in 2004, in a private conversation, about how I had felt about Pop's temper when I was growing up. I'd like to leave it at that.

Do you wish to know more as to the validity of these events? Ask Karl Kachergis.

Karl should in no way, shape, or form be held accountable for the events that transpired. He was, and is, a chosen peer, and I often seek his guidance, to this day.

That attempt was quelled, but Jeff went right on doing what he was doing. Fabricating fallacy and implementing a campaign based on anything that would bring a vote his way. He had convinced himself that he couldn't lose; that his way was what all Chatham wanted, and needed.

That's where the story about the waste-water treatment plant comes in. Dad had discovered, at the eleventh hour, that Cary was planning on running that line through nine miles of Chatham County, then back into Wake, to the proposed site at New Hill, without Chatham's permission.

At the same time, Cary was in the process of acquiring 38mgpd of water from Jordan Lake. Long story short, the deal was going to be we got half. That was really going help Chatham gain needed water for infrastructure. Funny thing, Cary went back, reviewed, then added another twenty percent for themselves, not us.

The ridiculous spin on this? Sally Kost and Jeff Starkweather said it was going to allow uncontrolled sprawl, the likes of which would overshadow what "Bunkey and crew" had been planning.

All of a sudden, Barnes was one of the bad guys.

Chatham Coalition candidate Tom Vanderbeck

Folks, Barnes fought Bunkey for two years. Not Vanderbeck. By the time Vanderbeck ran for Bunkey's seat, it was a given. Vanderbeck is not the hero here. But, shhhhh, the Coalition had a yes man.

You know the term “heroes to zeroes”, that was used in the Independent a few years ago? I came up with that. Seriously.

I was referring to, at the time, how suddenly Barnes and Cross were being viewed as bad guys, but, have no fear, the Chatham Coalition majority is here!

Sorry, George Lucier, I know you're not under their control, but, well, that is how it was made to look, now isn't it? I'm not out to ruin you, but you're continued affiliation with the Chatham Coalition, may well lead to your downfall. I've seen it with my own eyes. You saw it, too.

That was in early February 2008. That was the evening I spoke to Tom Vanderbeck. My next door neighbor. My commissioner, for my District. District 4. The same day all this happened.

Tom, I won't be helping you with your campaign this time.

Fast forward. A week before Sally Kost and Jeff Starkweather made it official, Sally told Commissioner Barnes she would not run against him.

Jeff knew there was no way he was going to beat Mike Cross if he didn't have a running mate. Funny, how she won, and he lost.

I would call that karma for Jefferey. Unfortunately, for Commissioner Barnes, he was on the receiving end of Jeff's master plan.

If Jeff could have waited four years, it would be a different world. If Jeff had really been thinking about the county, would his ego have overtaken him? If Jeff had kept our private conversations private, would I be here?

The rants of a younger man are to blame for this. And they're mine. I'm sorry to the county for being so loose lipped, and providing Jeff with the fodder that is now, an ugly, stinky mess. But, I realize, had it not been me, it would have been someone else, that was, in the end, used.

Jeff, I'm still waiting for that phone call. But I'm not holding my breath. Don't worry, old pal, I'm not gonna hurt you.

I forgave you, but I will not forget.

Six years ago, the Chatham Coalition was formed with the intent of bringing the Democratic Party in this county together. That hasn't happened. It's existence has only further divided a county that needs to come together. And soon.

I'm not here to bring down the Democratic Party. It's made up of more than progressives. The sad thing, Mark? It's the progressives that actually do get out and vote. If everybody in this county voted, I don't think you would be here too long.

In the end, it's just simple math. Hey, John Hammond, analyze that.

So, I'm asking all Democrats, if it takes voting for a Republican to get rid of the Chatham Coalition, DO IT. Vote for Petty and Stewart. I would find that a happy medium, and certainly a leveling of the playing field.

Coalition supporters, I'm well aware I'm not going to change everybody's mind. I’m not Jefferey, after all. He just taught me. But, at least think about this. You have also been misled.

My final grade for the Chatham Coalition? Honesty, openness, integrity, and accountability? A big fat F.

I'm sorry, but do as I say, not as I do, is not the kind of leadership I can support, or believe in. There are far better people out there.

This county does not need the Chatham Coalition, or groups that would act the way they have.

This is an off year election, and a majority board could easily slip right back in. Think about it.

There are more people in this county that don't support The Chatham Coalition, than do. Think about it.

The Chatham Coalition doesn't want everybody to vote, just their supporters. Think about it.

Chatham, it's in your hands now.

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Final grade for the Chatham Coalition? A big fat F
Chatham Coalition endorsed Chatham County Commissioner George Lucier.