Councilman admonishes Nash official

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Rocky Mount Councilman Andre Knight


Staff Writer

Friday, April 26, 2019

A Rocky Mount official contends it's hypocritical for a Nash County official to take an anti-city political stance while receiving money from the city for contracted jobs.

Councilman Andre Knight said Nash County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robbie Davis is anti-Rocky Mount but still takes the city's money.

"He's anti-Rocky Mount, but he doesn't mind taking money from Rocky Mount," Knight said. "He owns property in Rocky Mount, but his political stance is against Rocky Mount."

Davis and family member corporations own a total of $11.6 million worth of property within the city limits, according to a search of county property records.

"Anti-Rocky Mount? I'm one of the biggest supporters Rocky Mount's got," Davis said, adding he's put a lifetime of investment in Rocky Mount, including a decade as a city employee.

The current issue stems from a bid by Davis' Turn-Key Contractors for renovations at city fire stations 4 and 5. Turn-Key Contractors built Fire Station 4 on Fenner Road. Fire Station 5 is on Springfield Road.

The renovations job received three bids in March with Turn-Key being lowest. Berry Builder Group bid $1.22 million; Calvin Davenport bid $1.21 million; and Turn-Key bid $1.02 million.

"We're saving the city money," Davis said.

Turn-Key has completed 67 projects for the city over the past several years.

Davis said he always recuses himself from votes even remotely related to Turn-Key. He also has stopped bidding on jobs at Nash Community College, the school system and Nash UNC Health Care. Nothing prevents Davis from bidding on the jobs, but he said he's keenly aware that the appearance of impropriety is often as bad as the real thing.

Knight said whenever he purchases a piece of property he's scrutinized, but Davis recently bought a country club in Nashville and no one bats an eye.

"I don't see stories about Robbie Davis' emails in the Telegram," Knight said.

Knight said he bought the old hospital on Rose Street at public auction. He said the OIC purchased the China American Tobacco Building through the upset bid process.

"What could be more transparent than the courthouse steps?" Knight asked.

Knight is chairman of the OIC board. Councilman Reuben Blackwell is the CEO of OIC. Neither one of them recused themselves from votes about the China American building.

Knight said Davis has voted to split Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools and leave the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, a regional public-private economic development agency.

Davis said the issue with the school system was to make sure there was equity in the way students were funded. Now Nash County pays for its children and Edgecombe County pays for their children.

"The Board of Commissioners is satisfied with the way it has turned out," Davis said.