The Real Secret Write-In Candidate
Many citizens have expressed being upset by the outcome of Marvin's 2019 municipal election; and the Mayor’s race in particular. Many say they didn't know Pollino was running and there was definitely a lot of confusion once Pollino and his associates announced he was a write-in candidate.
Given our conversations with sources, along with the voting history data from this election, we believe Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers had a voting strategy planned to ensure Pollino and their hand-selected candidates would get into office. Sources within Firethorne say it was well-accepted, among residents and club members that there would be two write-in candidates for this Marvin election.
Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers tried to convince people Mary Shkut would be one of the write-in candidates. However, MVN was provided with audio records and email correspondence showing this rumor was absolutely false until 5-7 days before the election. We anticipate this tactic was used to project onto others what the Firethorne Campaign Organizers were doing themselves. Organizing a write-in candidate.
Firethorne club members say the second ‘write-in’ candidate's was rarely named but it was believed the second write-in candidate was going to be Mayor Joe Pollino. In fact, the Council candidates told Chris Smith he should expect a write-in opponent but only eluded to the fact it might be Mary Shkut. Obviously, something else was amiss.
Why Not Register and Appear on the Ballot?
Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers realized that putting Joe Pollino on the ballot would probably mobilize voters who were wholly opposed to Pollino returning to office. Despite what we saw on Election Day, Pollino is not a popular Village leader. MVN writers have received several email messages that attest to this sentiment.
Instead, Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers they placated voters (and probably Chris Smith) by letting citizens believe all candidates were running unopposed. They also actively dissuaded Chris Smith from campaigning. A slate of unopposed Marvin candidates had the effect of suppressing voter enthusiasm. Meanwhile, it appears Firethorne residents, club members and supporters were prepared to either write-in Joe Pollino, or write-in another name Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers would put up for election.
A Planned Pollino Run Would Mean They Didn't Support Chris Smith. Why?
If our hypothesis is correct, Firethorne Campaign Organizers were probably "pretending" to support Christopher Smith. Again, based on our educated theory, we believe they may have refrained from supporting Chris for the following reasons: Chris Smith has been an independent thinker from the very beginning. The mere fact that he announced he would be running against Joe Pollino -- to Joe Pollino, himself -- told Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers that Chris Smith might not be a Firethorne Squad "team player". Their definition of team player would require any candidate to follow their instructions and the agenda of Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers. In case there is any doubt that this is the expectation, one should look to what occurred when Chris Smith did not follow instructions. Merely answering questions on Mr. Giebel's traditional citizen's candidate survey incited quite a bit of anger among the Firethorne Election Campaign Squadron.
Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers (Joe Pollino, Michael Lavelle, John Jones, Mike and Kim Vandenberg, etc.) were able to take advantage of two main factors which, together, allowed them to obtain the numbers they needed to get Mayor Pollino re-elected.
The two variables working together, were:
(1) Complacency among voters who believed unopposed candidates would win regardless of their vote; not anticipating the potential for write-in candidates.
(2) A pre-planned, spring-action voting strategy, among Firethorne residents, club members, and club associates.
(3) Possible third? Some theorize members of the real estate and development community were also mobilized. Preliminary studies of Marvin's 2019 voter history lends support to this theory as well. (MVN will cover more on this later.)
A Few Publicly-Funded Political Favors for Good Measure?
Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers also appear to have mastered the art of garnering votes in exchange for publicly-funded political favors. One only needs to look to projects like the Tullamore Trail funding and Firethorne Road repaving to see examples.
The Sudden Road Schedule & Policy Change to Include Firethorne
Providence Ridge Suddenly Off the List. Firethorne Suddenly On the List
In March 2018, Firethorne Election Campaign Organizers grew very defensive when Councilors Shkut and Epps began questioning a sudden change in the Village road resurfacing schedule and the ~$380,000+ contract. The adopted policy was being ignored and new members of the Staff continuously moved to put all of Firethorne roads on the contract counter to the policy and schedule that was adopted in 2017. Meanwhile roads which were scheduled to be resurfaced in Providence Ridge subdivision were suddenly kicked off the list. (See Village Engineers Approved 2017 Work List Prior to Mayor's Meeting)
Prior to August 2018 no Firethorne roads were scheduled to be resurfaced. (See: 2017 Adopted Road Policy & Schedule Showing No Firethorne Roads Scheduled) In fact, Council meeting audio records confirm Mayor Pollino continuously asserting that roads in Firethorne didn't need resurfacing because Firethorne's HOA Board had resurfaced them when the HOA installed speed tables in and around 2014. (Hear: 2014-2017 Audio records)
When Did the Change in the Schedule Occur?
The Council majority wanted Councilors Epps and Shkut to believe Village engineers and/or NCDOT officials initiated this change. However, public records reveal something different.
(A) Calls to NCDOT officials say the change was precipitated by Village staff in April, 2018. Correspondence in public records appears to confirm this.
(B) On April 25, 2018, Interim Administrator, Chris Robertson asks Village engineers to provide her with documents to show which roads are scheduled to be resurfaced next per the adopted list.
☙ Village engineers respond with a document that reflects the schedule 2017 schedule.
☙ The Interim Administrator responds saying she just had a meeting with Mayor Pollino and Mayor Pro Tem Dispenziere.
☙ The Interim Administrator puts forth "follow-up questions" from her meeting with Mayor Pollino and Dispenziere which clearly convey an intent to 'add roads' to the previously adopted 2017 road resurfacing schedule...
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 1:00 PM
Lara and I met with our Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem about bonds and roads this morning and have the following follow-up questions.
...can you give us a cost to re-assess the roads in the under 90 categories that are in the "Remaining Section" (meaning not those in the 48% that are in the NCDOT work plan for the next few years)?
...Could that work be done before the May 8th council meeting?
...is there an opportunity for the Village to piggyback on the 2019-20 work NCDOT will be doing by adding in roads we want to re-surface...
...would putting out a bond referendum to cover roads not on the NCDOT work plan for the next few years hurt us...?
More Unlawful Actions Behind Closed Doors
This four-year schedule had never been discussed in an open meeting, nor had it been requested by the Council. Instead, behind closed doors, Mayor Pollino and Dispenziere, accelerated the Village’s adopted road resurfacing schedule, increased the road resurfacing budget and revised NCDOT’s work plan to include all of Firethorne's subdivision roads.
The next time the road resurfacing schedule was presented to the Council, on August 9, 2018, Pollino and his majority were able to take advantage of a new Administrator and a missing Council member to advance this "four-year-road-resurfacing-schedule" forward.
By the time the contract had been presented, Councilwoman Shkut had been asking questions about how and why the contract diverged but was not receiving any answers. Eventually, she was able to find the original policy and the schedule which had been adopted. She also began asking about the sudden changes to the schedule and the contract. (2018 - 2016 PCI Inventory Rvsd. to Appear as Engineers New 4-Year Schedule)
Firethorne Roads Entirely Paid for By the Village/Without Cost-Sharing
NCDOT and the Village cost-share road repairs just prior to the Village’s acceptance of the same roads. This year there were a few notable coincidences.
Firstly, the Village’s contribution to resurfacing roads was twice as much as the Village initially planned to expend on road resurfacing and acceptance each year.
Secondly, and more importantly? The Village's road resurfacing costs totaled exactly what it cost to resurface the Firethorn roads which had just been added to the Village / NCDOT work plan. This means the resurfacing and acceptance of Firethorne’s roads were entirely funded by the Village of Marvin and do not appear to be part of the Village/NCDOT cost-share program like other roads. (See: Council Report: Firethorne Roads Paid w Village Funds w/o Cost Sharing)
Public expenditures like this tend to be pretty good incentives for voters!
There is no way to know for sure but enthusiasm among Firethorne residents does seem to correlate with a fairly major public works project in the neighborhood.
Long-term Goals & Objectives
Primary sources say in 2014, when Mr. Pollino was put-up for a Council position by Mr. Michael Lavelle, of Firethorne, the twosome had three things on their mind:
(1) They wanted Firethorne to be a gated community but weren't able to accomplish this while NCDOT maintained the roads.
(2) They were upset the former Council had provided Marvin Creek with a temporary encroachment for a gate, while they had been unable to obtain one for Firethorne.
(3) Lavelle, in particular, felt Firethorne deserved more Village representation.
The acceptance of all of Firethorne’s roads, along with a Council stacked with Firethorne club members just might make each Pollino-Lavelle goal a reality. Certainly, the dream of monopolizing a government entity could provide endless business opportunities to like-minded associates who believe "money and might make right". If this election is found to be valid, our Village government may test the degree to which this principle is correct.