Where are the members? Pittsboro Matters continues to demonstrate a lack of credibility

By Virginia Penley

Pittsboro, NC – Frankly, I am on the same side of most issues and values with a majority of the folks who support Pittsboro Matters, Inc. I believe that they raise compelling issues for discussion on growth and other issues such as affordable housing and climate change.

What bothers me is the tone of their communications and public statements, their tactics and their willingness to quickly push a half truth or a theory before verifying information.

The problem with a half truth is that it is also half untrue and to me that is a problem.

When combined with either a blatant disregard for the facts or just sloppy work the group does a disservice to itself and the community.

For example, for over two years all we have heard is how many members they have or constituents in the community.

Amanda Robertson, its chair, represented in a statement to the Pittsboro town board on June 22, 2015 that they have over 600 constituents or members.

She later repeated a similar number in one of her letters to the Chatham Record during the fall of 2015.

Chatham Coalition leader Jeff Starkweather

Jeff Starkweather

Jeffrey Starkweather, its vice-chair and founder, represented in a notarized affidavit in 2014 to the Superior Court in Chatham County that Pittsboro Matters had 200 members, which was offered as proof that the organization had members in its court filing last fall with the Superior Court.

Funny thing; however, the Court found in its order dated December 9, 2015 that the organization actually had ZERO MEMBERS and the notation by the Judge was in part influenced by the sloppy and incorrect paperwork filed with the State of North Carolina and other pertinent authorities by Pittsboro Matters.

If they can be that sloppy with their own simple legal paperwork, why should Pittsboro Matters be given the benefit of the doubt when they issue propaganda and misinformation?

Their case was “dismissed with prejudice” because it lacked credibility.  No amount of spin will change that.

What this means is that for a civil matter a dismissal with prejudice is over forever.

This is a final judgement, not subject to further action, which bars the plaintiff from bringing any other lawsuit based on the claim.

Of course they will appeal the decision because the court order on December 9 was a direct stab at their credibility and they need to keep it alive to raise money and seem relevant because they have effectively been barred from appearing before the Superior Court again on these issues.

My point is that they can keep asking for money, keep attacking members of our community, and keep pretending they are beyond reproach, but when the music stops let us not forget that when the court asked for them to provide evidence of its 200 members they shot an air ball when the judge acknowledged the fact that they had no members in his order.

Here is what the Judge said: “…the Court concludes that there exists a factual dispute that must be resolved prior to the Court determining whether Pittsboro Matters, Inc has members or not…”

Pittsboro Matters never provided the evidence and since the Court had decided to dismiss the case with prejudice, this factual problem was not germane to the final decision.