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Commission member to step down

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Curmilus Dancy watches the City Council workshop Monday at City Hall.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Rocky Mount City Council will appoint a replacement for a city commission member who doesn't live in the city limits.

Curmilus Dancy, the Human Relations Commission's designated representative of the local chapter of the NAACP, will continue to serve on the city's commission until the NAACP can appoint a new representative at its next monthly meeting, the City Council decided during a Monday workshop.

Dancy has served on the commission for nearly a year. He's a resident of Tarboro with a mailing address in Pinetops. The 13 members of the commission are required to live within the city limits, according to Section 2, Division 4 of the city's Code of Ordinances, which established the commission.

Councilman Andre Knight, who is also president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said he spoke to Dancy prior to the meeting and he was willing to step down to avoid problems. Knight said Dancy was just doing what the NAACP asked him to do.

City Clerk Pam Casey said she accepted Knight's recommendation for Dancy over the phone as it's usually done for commission representatives of other organizations like the NAACP. Dancy's nomination wasn't reviewed by the City Council before he joined the commission.

City Attorney Jep Rose said the council could alter the ordinance to change the residency requirement, but he wasn't aware of that ever having been done in the city's history.

A member of the commission said Dancy's presence had a chilling effect at monthly meetings. The stated purpose of the commission is to promote understanding, respect and harmony among all people.

Dancy operates a website and Facebook page on which he brags about being an agitator. He makes repeated references to white people being “Special C's” and black people that he disagrees with are labeled “Safe Black Folk.”

Dancy stated online that he will continue to attend and record meetings.

Councilman Reuben Blackwell said the commission's mission is harmony, but that doesn't mean not talking about touchy subjects.

“If all we're having is nice conversations, we're not addressing the root cause,” Blackwell said. “Harmony doesn't mean everyone shut up.”

Blackwell also questioned how effective the Human Relations Commission has been. Mayor David Combs recommended a joint meeting between the council and the commission.

Dancy wanted to make a statement about the situation at last month's commission meeting but fellow commissioner Steve Stevenson said any such discussion should take place in closed session. Co-Chairman Linwood Williams ended the meeting, telling Dancy to settle any personal issues he has with fellow commissioners outside of commission meetings.

At Monday's council workshop, Knight asked Rose whether the commission could even go into closed session. Rose said it would be highly irregular and would have to consult with an attorney.

Knight asked staff to make sure Robert's Rules of Order and open meetings laws are made clear during future citizen academies.

“It we're going to clean it up, let's clean it all the way up,” Knight said.

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