Commissioners Dealing from Bottom of the Deck on Budget-?- Citizens Walk Away From Commissioners, Shake off Dust???- Report, Evaluation and Analysis By Robert A. Williams

The Cleveland County Board of Commissioner’s Meeting held June 2, 2015 was an apparent sequel to the meeting held May 5, 2015. I titled the article on May 5 as a “Lovefest” and “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.” This meeting on June 2 brought another perspective on how divisive and just plain low-down our commissioners have become.

To set the stage for this June 2nd meeting, I would say that the audience was just like the May 5th meeting. The place was packed with people getting money from the county taxpayers. And nobody was there representing the taxpayers. Except me. And the Commissioners don’t want to hear from me. Stay tuned about that.

First, I would like to say that the main business item on the Commissioner’s agenda was the public hearing on the 2015-2016 budget. But before that was the Citizen’s Recognition part of the agenda. Buford Burton of Kings Mountain and a part of the Kings Mountain Casino Awareness Group, whose recent attendance has dwindled down to just Mr. Burton, was the only speaker.

Mr. Burton, who is a self identified recovering gambling addict, for perhaps every meeting since the Catawba Casino was run out of South Carolina and was run out of Gaston County has spoken out about the dark side of organized gambling. Perhaps the latest and closest example of the “Dark Side” of gambling is the recent and untimely death of former Sheriff Dan G. Crawford. Sheriff Crawford, who appeared to be the Sheriff that would turn the Sheriff’s Department into a more professional organization and run the criminal element out of Cleveland County, himself became addicted to gambling and lost control of the Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff’s position and his life. It seems that I am the only one that is not afraid to tell the truth about this tragic situation. The last statement I heard was Dan Crawford, in a terrible state of mind, went over to a neighbor’s house and requested that they call 911 as a murder was about to be committed. Then Dan Crawford ran back toward his home and before he could get there, he shot himself fatally while still in his front yard. Gambling wasted Dan Crawford’s promising career, catapulted Cleveland County into First Place as the Video Poker Capital of North Carolina, allowed criminal elements free reign and eventually took Dan Crawford’s life. There are many who do not want this aspect of what happened to Dan Crawford to be known. I believe “Knowledge is Power” and forewarned is forearmed. I suspect if Dan Crawford had his life to do over again, he would have never made that first bet or put money into that first video poker machine. Buford Burton has that same message. People, including the Commissioners, should listen too. But they don’t.

As an “Expert Witness” on gambling addiction, Mr. Burton has continuously requested the Commissioners to rescind their approval of the casino with offers of great incentives that was included an a secret letter endorsing the Casino signed by Jason Falls, Eddie Holbrook, Susan Allen, Johnny Hutchins and Ronnie Hawkins. Mr. Burton, three minutes at a time, has given many hours of clear, cogent, reasonable, accurate and convincing arguments to the Commissioners and to the citizens of Cleveland County for why this Casino and their phony claim that 4,000 jobs will be created should never be built.

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