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Oligarchy and chaos return to Reidsville

The Reidsville City Council established an ethics committee in January of this as part of a transparency overhaul after the swearing in of newly elected mayor Sydney Clifton.

Pro Roof GA

At the regularly scheduled meeting in January, Mayor Clifton nominated Vicki Nail, Donald Prestage, and Attorney DuAnn Davis to serve on the committee. In the presence of City Attorney Van Cheney and 3 council members, the vote was unanimous and all three were appointed to the board effective immediately.
Councilmen Virgil Duckworth and John Wingate did not attend the meeting.

Now, more than four months later, Attorney Van Cheney sent a letter to city council members and the mayor stating that “in his opinion,” the vote was illegal and a new committee should be appointed. He said he was writing the letter after receiving concerns from council members over the legitimacy of the committee. Because council persons Doug Williams, Carolyn Blackshear, and Curtis Colwell were all present at the meeting in question, speculation has circulated that it was councilmen Duckworth and Wingate that brought concerns forth to Cheney.

The problem, Cheney says is that 4/5 of persons present were needed, not the 3/5 that decided the vote in January, however quorum in the city of Reidsville- per the charter – is just 3.

Opponents of the dissolution and reappointment of the committee say the move is part of a personnel vendetta. Two of the three members of the ethics committee were strong opponents of the Cheney Law Office purchase last fall.

Additionally, there is a potential case already in the works – one that has been discussed illegally by the council during a executive session – and the Mayor believes the changes are an effort to tip the scales against him. He says the charges coming against him are false, but council members who have been working against him since elected would like to see a more unfavorable outcome.

Prestage, Nail, and Davis all expressed dissatisfaction with the implication that their service is neither legitimate nor unbiased and have asked the council to consider that the ordinance for the ethics committee does, in fact, permit the mayor to have a vote.

Councilwoman Carolyn Blackshear was the voice of reason asking for more time and suggested meeting to come to a consensus at the May 9 meeting.
Councilman Virgil Duckworth departed before the meeting adjourned. Van Cheney was not present.

All is referenced in the May 2 meeting. Watch the video below:

Oligarchy, Chaos returns to Reidsville

Posted by Jessica Szilagyi on Monday, May 2, 2016



Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. dale anderson

    May 5, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Seems like problems arise when things doesn’t go the way people want them to…I served as Police Chief from 1995 thru December 2005, I medically retired during my tenure as Chief from injuries I received in the line of duty. I have seen parking lot meetings between city officals through the years as far as Van Cheney being voted in by council as the City attorney and as the Municipal court judge at the same time , WAS A CONFLICT OF INTRESTS , I was advised this by a personal friend also a much higher judge that heard this, he advised to me in a conversation, this was “WRONG” , my findings were brought forth , I was asked, was I happy the way Judge Cheney handles court, and nothing changed as far as I know the CITY OF REIDSVILLE has the same municipal court JUDGE and CITY JUDGE. “IN MY OPINION WHATS WRONG ,IS THE DEPARTMENT HEADS HAVING TO SATISFY 6 BOSS’S, ” all it would take to get rid of a department head was make one member upset enough to have you NOT Voted back in the following year because “DEPARTMENT HEADS ONLY” ARE APPOINTED every year in janurary. While serving as Chief I had several problems with TWO cith officals, I brought these issues forth in a meeting with the mayor, one of the two was REMOVED from having any say-so with the police department, I HAD THIS EXACT PROBLEM with two mayors and ONE cith council member, This I do have RECORDED and DOCUMENTED by the city clerk. As far as today’s issues these problems sure didn’t start in 2016, I think some people are upset because they were not involved in every issue the city makes, during my service as Police Chief we ,meaning department heads were forced to attend EVERY city council meeting . I attended as many as possible anyway due to the fact some people that wish to bring your name and their problem to the table to discuss ,WILL NOT DO IT while your at the meeting.

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