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Letter: Knowledge doesn’t always equal understanding

To the editor: 

Who is Barbara Morgan and what experience does she have with department legal problems and expenses? These people have never run for or held an office. Yet, they want to be the shot-callers and dictate how others should run their office with no valid information. These are the same people who went before the board and appealed for an audit costing the county more than $350,000-plus and several hundred thousand dollars, in legal fees with no results in wrongdoing to this date. 

I, Archie Shepherd, went to speak to Sheriff Ezell Brown concerning the letter submitted by Morgan.  I found that the NCSO is the largest employer in the county and has 40 percent to 50 percent of the county’s budget. We understand in 2014-2015 roughly $25,000.00 was spent on attorney fees to Attorney Craig and he provided legal services to all departments no matter which end. That means $25,000 paid by the sheriff’s office was only a portion of what had to be paid on the total amount owed by the county. The monies came from the same pot. How Barbara Morgan arrived to her amount for Jarrard & Davis being less than Attorney Tommy Craig does not add up. The sheriff’s office has more exposure and more lawsuits due to the nature of the job yet still pays less than the county in legal fees. I think it is irresponsible for someone to write a letter in an attempt to swing the county citizens down the path of a rabbit hole by providing information they truly have no knowledge or experience on.

Currently, the county’s attorney, Jarrard & Davis bills over $1 million and the billing from Craig’s office runs from $200,000 to $300,000 for the sheriff’s office annually. Craig started doing legal work for the sheriff’s office when Jarrard and Davis started exclusively for the county. You cannot even defend a drug case for less than $25,000. How can anyone unfamiliar with the function and cases of the Sheriff’s Office put a price on legal fees when everyone is Sue happy? But the Sheriff was able to show where Craig saved the NCSO roughly $6 million in lawsuits not to mention other cases presented before the BOC. He showed me where NCSO consistently turned back money to the county each year and NCSO consistently turn money back over between half a million-plus at the end of the fiscal year, even after funds he’s given to other departments who may have fallen short. 

The sheriff has his own independent spending authority to hire and fire whom he deems necessary and Barbara Morgan has questioned why he hasn’t changed attorneys. Why is this? Either Morgan dislikes Craig or dislikes Sheriff Brown for reasons that have nothing to do with the operation of the Office of Sheriff. The Sheriff stated, “A day at the office is just like pulling a number on a bull ride. You never know what you are going to get.”  

Archie Shepherd