A Tale of Two Cowards

Monday, April 24th, 2017 will perhaps go down as the worst day in Representative Justin Burr and Stanly County Commissioner Joseph Burleson’s political careers. It will come to be known as the day that they got a taste of the democratic process that they have tried so hard to suppress.

In March, Justin introduced HB239 to shrink the size of the NC Court of Appeals from 15 members to 12 members. It would do so by attrition, meaning that after each judge either resigned or was forced to retire at the mandatory age of 72, the Governor could not make another appointment. Many judges and judicial scholars argued that the bill would increase the court’s workload by over 20%, meaning more delays. For Burr, a bail bondsman, delays for criminal appeals would be good for business.

Last week Governor Cooper vetoed the bill, but the legislature was expected to vote Monday night to overrule his veto. However, on Monday morning, judge Douglas McCullough, a Republican who opposed the unethical bill, resigned from the Court of Appeals before the Governor wouldn’t be allowed to appoint a replacement. Governor Cooper appointed John Arrowood to the court at 9:45AM, postponing the shrinking of the court until at least 2019.

The possibility of a nighttime override vote may explain why Justin wasn’t back home at the Stanly County Commissioners “special meeting” to consider a redistribution of municipal sales tax revenue. At the meeting there was standing room only as citizen after citizen, from every town in the county, berated Commissioner Burleson and his cohorts for introducing such a disastrous plan in such a secretive way. By the end of the meeting, Burleson and co. knew they were in hot water, so they backtracked, claiming to not have known what the ramifications of their plan would be. Even though he voted for the plan last week, Burleson claimed to not have known what it would have done to the towns.

This is a recent trend for Burleson and Burr. Last month, Burr introduced HB 257 to give the county commissioner's ultimate say over anything the towns of Stanly County attempted to do. It would've made them the only 10 towns in the state who have to get permission from county commissioners before doing anything.

Then, at the Stanly County GOP Convention, Phil Burr (Justin's dad) and Burleson hijacked the meeting and prevented a vote for someone to run against Phil for Chairman. It was reported that over 80 people showed up with the intention of voting against Phil Burr.

Monday’s events exposed Justin Burr and Joe Burleson for who they really are. They aren’t threats, they aren’t ignorant, they aren’t stupid...they’re cowards. As former county commissioner Peter Asciuttio said at Monday’s meeting, they’re just simply afraid of losing. So they’ll lie and cheat and steal, just to stay in power.

Are you awake yet, Stanly County? They’re both up for re-election next year.

Dylan Frick