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'Ticketgate' Controversy Lingers

Posted November 27, 2007
Updated January 10, 2008

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— Voters won't let go of a ticket controversy that put the mayor and city manager on the hot seat for weeks, but some local officials said Tuesday that it's time to move on.

Three cars were involved in an Oct. 25 wreck at the intersection of Stoney Point and Gillis Hill roads, and a Fayetteville police officer cited driver Diana Knight, who was injured in the wreck, for running a red light after receiving conflicting reports from witnesses.

Knight's husband, Gary Knight, who was deputy garrison commander at Fort Bragg before he retired, called Mayor Tony Chavonne that evening to complain, saying he thought police were rushing to judgment. Police voided the ticket shortly after Chavonne and Fayetteville City Manager Dale Iman visited Diana Knight in the hospital.

Police later charged the driver of another car involved i the wreck, Jamell Rashad Jones, 21, with running the red light.

The City Council voted two weeks ago to conduct an independent investigation of the incident, which local residents have dubbed "Ticketgate."

Iman explained his actions at a recent City Council meeting. Chavonne said he followed city policies in the incident, but he later issued a public apology for misjudging public perceptions of his involvement.

City Councilman Charles Evans said Tuesday that he would like Fayetteville to move past "Ticketgate," but his constituents don't want to let the matter slide.

"I don't think it's going to die," Evans said. "This is a matter that they want to see done right, and as their councilman, I want to see it done right."

At a Monday night council meeting, Evans tried to seek a broader investigation that would examine the conduct of Chavonne and Iman.

Council members Juanita Gonzalez, Paul Williams, D.J. Haire, Lois Kirby and Curtis Worthy backed the effort, but it fell short of the required number of votes. Chavonne joined council members Keith Bates, Robert Massey and Wesley Meredith in opposing the measure.

"When I found out how serious it was to our citizens, it had to be done, regardless of what time it had to be done," Evans said.

He said he might try to put the issue on the agenda again, but he might again lack the necessary votes. Gonzalez, Williams, Kirby and Worthy will be replaced by newly elected members next month.

It's also unclear whether the independent investigation of the wreck will occur.

The State Bureau of Investigation and the state Highway Patrol have declined to handle the matter.

“At this point, it appears that no outside law enforcement agency is willing to conduct the investigation," City Attorney Karen McDonald wrote in a memo Tuesday to Chavonne and council members. "It appears your options would be to allow this matter to continue through the court system or retain someone to conduct the investigation.”

The council wanted the SBI or Highway Patrol to do the inquiry so the city wouldn’t have to pay and could avoid the appearance that  the payment influenced the results.

19 Comments

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  • mulvay8888 Nov 28, 2007

    Let it GOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  • Evangela Graham Nov 28, 2007

    It is very sad to say these are the people who make major decisions for our county and city. It is very sad to see that the rich folks can make a call and get out of a bad situation, but poor folks have to suffer all the burdens!! Where is the help when you need it?? I agree how can MAYOR have the deciding vote?? I hope someone stands up and does the right thing.

  • daisy Nov 28, 2007

    I am one voter that doesnt want this situation to be swept under the rug. I am also very interested in learning that my councilman Meredith is voting against investigating the matter. The SBI and Highway Patrol didnt say there was no need to investigate, they just dont want to touch the case.

  • BigUNCFan Nov 28, 2007

    citizens arraaaast! citizens arraaaast!

  • whatusay Nov 28, 2007

    Very simple...send the ticket back to Diana Knight and let her know she can plead not guilty in court...where this should have been decided in the first place.

  • Aries82 Nov 28, 2007

    The investigation should go on. Sure you have the wife of an officer that may have run a red light, but just because the other driver was 21 does not mean he wasn't a good driver. Sure, there's always that chance one of the two was on a cell phone not paying attention. As far as the mayor and the other guy goes, they should let the police, be it the SBI or State do their job.

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Nov 28, 2007

    After dealing with the prosecute-happy Fayetteville DAs in case that had no evidence, nothing surprises me about the people in office there.

  • give me no quarter Nov 28, 2007

    Voters won't let go of this controversy? Who is speaking for the voters? Mr. Evans? Seems he's the only one who can't let go. If the Highway Patrol and the S.B.I. feels theres no need to investigate further then why keep stirring the pot. Sounds like a personal problem.

  • 3forme Nov 27, 2007

    turn evidence over to independent accident investigator and let them determine fault...as far as mayor and council are concerned the inmates are definitely running the asylum...

  • javanet Nov 27, 2007

    Interesting that council vote 6-3 (mayor should recused himself) in favor of investigation of mayor and city manager actions isn't sufficient. Did City Attorney decide that? The censor vote was killed 5-5, again mayor's vote the deciding vote. What is wrong with this picture?? It would be impossible to investigate the accident and ticket issue without investigating the actions of the Mayor and City Manager. Moving past this doesn't mean that Officials aren't held accountable for betraying a public trust.

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