Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill + Orange County Go After One of Their Own - TOC Spends $259,754.73
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
In 2015, Andrew and Bethany Slack decided to put up a fence on their own property to ensure the safety of their children, pets and possessions. The Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, as well as Orange County, decided that they possessed an easement over the Slack's property and that this easement prohibited the Slacks from building a fence on their own property. From 2015 until September 2018, the Slacks were mired in litigation initiated by these three governments.
On September 27, 2019, NC Leaks emailed the following FOIA request to Town of Carrboro. The email was copied to Robert Hornik (TOC attorney), Sammy Slade (TOC Town Council Member) and David Andrews (Town Manager). Archie McAdoo is the Finance Director for the Town of Carrboro.
I have reviewed the Town's financial documents for the 2018 fiscal year. I see a category for government expenses. However, I am seeking specific information on the amount of money that the town spent on legal fees in 2018. Where can I find these documents?
If they are not available on your website, you can consider this a Freedom of Information Act request for me to access and review those documents. Please confirm that you have received my email.
I am also seeking specific information about a case that the Town of Carrboro, in conjunction with the Town of Chapel Hill and Orange County, brought against Andrew and Bethany Slack. I understand that the town lost that case at the appellate level. I also understand that the Slacks have repeatedly attempted to gather information about that case from the Town of Carrboro, but have been told that the case is still active, which is patently untrue. The time for an appeal is within 10 days after a Court's ruling, and that appeal was never filed by anyone. Therefore, those documents should be readily available to any person in the public.
I understand that not all of this is under your control, so I have copied Bob Hornick, the town's attorney on this email. He can handle what belongs to him.
Three hours later, Mr. McAdoo responded to me acknowledging receipt of my request. FIVE MONTHS LATER, after a February 28, 2020 reminder of the FOIA request, I received the following. Do you notice that in 2017 (the year TOC et al filed litigation against the Slacks), Town of Carrboro's legal fees totaled $259,754.73! Guess who finances those legal fees? Yep...taxpayers. You.
What did TOC get for that $259,754.72? They lost. They got nothing. The Slacks lost plenty in legal fees to fight off the very government meant to protect their rights. Here's what the NC Appellate Court had to say about TOC, CH and OC:
"Plaintiffs asserted a slew of alternative legal theories touching on nearly every form of express and implied easement known to the law. We address each theory in turn below but ultimately conclude that the government plaintiffs—Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County—do not possess any easement rights over the Slacks' property. We therefore reverse and remand that portion of the trial court's summary judgment order for entry of judgment in favor of the Slacks."
"Do not possess any easement rights over the Slacks' property." Nothing. Every citizen who paid local taxes in 2017 got something...you got screwed. You worked for your paycheck, the government took part of it and threw it away on litigation that was malarkey to start with and ended with nothing except a whole lot of hell for the Slacks and their FOUR children.
What if, one day, they did it to you?
What if TOC and their posse of bullies decide to take the Slacks land by eminent domain? What if your town government came after you because it wanted something you own? What if that government never stopped? How would you manage? How would you afford the legal fees? Would you have to give up your land and walk away?
If you think the litigation against the Slacks is their problem, think again. It may be a matter of time before it's your problem. Every time we look away from injustice against another because it has nothing to do with our lives, we allow the powers that be to gain a foothold. We are complicit in their dishonesty and corruption if we pretend not to see.