‘Extremely disturbing’: Meck County commissioners concerned about GovOps committee

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County’s Intergovernmental Manager Starla Tanner warned county commissioners of a major change as a result of the new budget.

“This is a new territory for the legislature but one that I wanted to bring to your attention,” she said.

The concern is over the new powers of the GovOps committee. It’s a commission that will have the authority to investigate possible malfeasance and illegal conduct.

It will now have the power to access any document created by a local government or its employees as well as access to any building or facility they are working in. Tanner says that includes home offices.

The investigation also must be confidential.

“I find this very disturbing,” Commissioner Laura Meier said.

House Speaker Tim Moore told WRAL this commission was created to have more power to investigate state agencies and pointed to the response of disaster relief for Hurricane Florence. Senate leader Phil Berger told the News & Observer that lawmakers have a constitutional obligation to oversee how money that’s appropriated is being spent.

Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell says it is hypocritical for the legislature to crack down on releasing its public records while uing this commission to investigate others.

“They are drunk with power,” she said. “It is incredible.”

Chairman George Dunlap and Tanner say they wouldn’t be surprised to see litigation.

“Although these bills have passed, some will be litigated to determine whether they are constitutional,” Dunlap said.

“There will be litigation about this particular section of the budget,” Tanner said.