4I was shocked when I tuned in to Hope Mills Commissioner Joanne Scarola's Fireside Chat several weeks ago and listened to her senseless rant about what she did, what she didn't do, what she said, what she didn't say.
It was all about her and defining herself as a person. Her aggressive, vulgar diatribe told me exactly what Hope Mills Commissioner Joanne Scarola is about.
Not only was her 37-minute rant senseless and without merit, but it was laced with arrogance and profanity so vulgar that it would make a sailor blush. See for yourself. This posting is Rated R for Adults only: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=1297476334546539
In just a few minutes, Scarola dropped the F bomb and a dozen other expletives to her viewing audience. Even worse, she justified her actions by declaring, "this is who she is" and states that she enjoys cursing, and when she gets angry, she likes cursing loudly.
Well, I have news for Hope Mills Commissioner Scarola. When you take an oath confirming your commitment and dedicated leadership as an elected official to a community, you have a responsibility to those you serve and those who elected you. In this case, it is not just the men, women, and children of the Town of Hope Mills but everyone who resides in Cumberland County. To the shock and disappointment of many, Scarola is not projecting the image of governmental leadership, nor is she abiding by the Code of Conduct and Ethics she swore to uphold.
During the past seven months, several concerned members of the Hope Mills community have brought her conduct to my attention. In response, I contacted Hope Mills Mayor Jesse Bellflowers. I shared my concerns with him and those of the Hope Mills residents.
To his credit, Bellflowers agreed that Commissioner Joanne Scarola's behavior has sometimes been inappropriate and not in the town's best interest, and he assured me that he would address the situation at the July 1st Hope Mills Commissioners meeting. I reminded the mayor that Scarola's interactions and programs on her social media platforms are viewed publicly by the citizens of Hope Mills and visitors and guests of Cumberland County.
It's unconscionable that Bellflowers and the other four elected HM Commissioners have remained silent, ignoring this demeaning and aggressive behavior without censoring Scarola for using excessive and hostile profanity and posting vulgar messages on her social media platforms. For years, the Town of Hope Mills has battled a squad of local disgruntled Hope Mills malcontents who weaponized social media against the town, like the trolls behind the infamous Hope Mills Chatter FaceBook site.
Ironically, until recently, Mayor Bellflowers was a participating squad member until the Chatter Trolls kicked him out for failing to goose-step to their dictates. This is the same group of social media trolls that tormented former Mayor Jackie Warner for years. The ousted Bellflowers admitted that he now knows what Warner went through in dealing with their mischievous, non-productive, malicious rumors and criticisms.
To Bellflowers' credit, he appreciated me bringing the citizens' concerns forward. He concurred that the situation must be addressed at the next Hope Mills Board of Commissioners meeting. Unfortunately, to my disappointment, it was not.
Bellflowers addressed the issue passively with no real sense of concern or urgency. He reminded the Board to constantly watch what they say and be on their best behavior. His own words, "…..be cautious of what we say and post, and be mindful of how that may be interpreted by someone watching us."
"Someone watching us?" Of course, someone is watching them. EVERYONE is watching them! Commissioner Scarola's behavior and actions are egregious and demand more attention than a general lukewarm warning.
I assumed the issue would be addressed as a personnel matter and dealt with in a closed board session. What should also concern Mayor Bellflowers and the citizens of Hope Mills is that no other town staff members or elected Commissioners who have witnessed her verbal abuse and unprofessional behavior have come forward to voice objections despite frequent complaints.
This indicates an unhealthy culture within all departments of the Hope Mills government. This type of leadership cannot move a progressive community like Hope Mills forward into the 21st century.
This situation is of grave concern to many. Everyone in Hope Mills expects professional conduct as clearly stated in the Hope Mills Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics statutes. It has nothing to do with inhibiting anyone's First Amendment Rights.
Hope Mills is a beautiful and delightful community. It deserves leadership that is committed to its vision of growth and prosperity.
This means leadership that guarantees good stewardship of its assets and reputation. It's here that robust and committed leadership needs to be applied. Tolerating poor judgment and bad behavior encourages pettiness and only inhibits progress.
Mayor Bellflowers needs to do better, and the Board of Commissioners needs to do better because the Town of Hope Mills deserves better.
Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

(Photo: Hope Mills Commissioner Joanne Scarola. Photos courtesy of Town of Hope Mills webpage)

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