Monday, August 15, 2022

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
Ph: 336.228.7851

Publisher criticizes mayor’s little “side meetings” and “huddles,” one that included the mayor’s contractor-husband

At the start of this week’s meeting, Graham mayor Jennifer Talley stated, “Since the last meeting, we’ve had some discussion [about the appropriate rate levels] about how to proceed with implementing [the new fees],” she said.  After Talley’s opening remarks, Alamance News publisher Tom Boney, Jr., present to cover the meeting, raised questions this week about “where were these discussions” conducted and with whom?

Talley said she had alerted the local homebuilders’ association and some individual builders about the proposed changes. In some cases, she explained at the time – and elaborated in an interview with the newspaper – she had consulted with builders to find out what the practical effect would be on their existing projects, especially when there were already contracts, loans, or other financial obligations that had been undertaken.

She also acknowledged that she had made inquiries on “behalf of constituents,” naming specifically builder Dennis Euliss.

However, in describing one such meeting during Tuesday’s night’s council meeting, that had taken place since the last city council meeting, she described having joined a meeting that included councilman Bobby Chin, some city staff (assistant city manager Aaron Holland and the city’s engineer), engineer and new Graham planning board member Chad Huffine, and her husband, Chuck Talley, a local contractor.

- Advertisement -

“I must protest,” Boney interjected at hearing that Chuck Talley had been in what Boney described as “one of these little side meetings,” adding “I’m very concerned by that revelation.”

Boney insisted that “these discussions should be held in an open meeting,” fully accessible to the public.

Boney insisted that these “little huddles” with “little groups” were not the appropriate venue for decision-making.

“I’m not concerned about me. We don’t build subdivisions.

”If I was looking out for me, I wouldn’t have raised the subject of raising fees [at all].

“I’m looking out for the city. I’m not looking out for me.”

– Graham mayor Jennifer Talley

Talley insisted at the meeting and in a subsequent interview that she was only acting in behalf of the citizens, including developers, but not her own interests.

“I’m not concerned about me,” she insisted in an interview Wednesday. “We don’t build subdivisions.”

She added that “If I was looking out for me, I wouldn’t have raised the subject of raising fees [at all].”

“I’m looking out for the city. I’m not looking out for me,” she said repeatedly.

At one point during Tuesday night’s meeting, the mayor offered, “If you feel I have some conflict, I’ll be glad to step aside.”

“This should have been conducted in an open session of this council with all of the participants that have been mentioned included.

“Mayor, I have defended you on many occasions against criticism that you have had special considerations, or that your husband has had special considerations, and I want to be able to continue to defend that.

“But in this context, this is very disappointing and is very much the kind of thing that leads people to believe that there is a little special operation going on behind the scenes in which certain people get special consideration. That is very, very alarming.”

“What’s transpired in between [this meeting and last] has not been good open government.”

– Alamance News publisher Tom Boney, Jr.

Boney concluded his comments by emphasizing, “This should have been conducted in an open session of this council with all of the participants that have been mentioned included.

“Mayor,” he said, directing his comments to Talley, “I have defended you on many occasions against criticism that you have had special considerations, or that your husband has had special considerations, and I want to be able to continue to defend that.

“But in this context,” Boney stressed, “this is very disappointing and is very much the kind of thing that leads people to believe that there is a little special operation going on behind the scenes in which certain people get special consideration. That is very, very alarming.”

“What’s transpired in between [this meeting and last] has not been good open government,” Boney concluded.


See coverage of the council’s consideration of the water and sewer system development fees: https://alamancenews.com/graham-city-council-adopts-revised-fees-higher-but-not-as-high-as-originally-recommended/

See editorial page opinion on the need to have total openness in government decision-making: https://alamancenews.com/backroom-deals-are-never-a-good-idea-in-local-government/

Must Read

What’s the holdup with opening new Mebane Dunkin’ Donuts?

On the outside, the strip center along NC 119 that’s to be home to Mebane’s Dunkin’ Donuts looks complete and ready to open. But a...