What exactly is going on at DSS and why is the board keeping it so quiet?

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We’re not exactly clear what’s going on with Brunswick County’s Department of Social Services, but we have some concerns about the actions taken recently by its board.

On Aug. 6, the board had a meeting where it made a decision to place Jamie Orrock, DSS director, on paid administrative leave. We can find no record of public notice being given for this meeting.

Further, during that meeting the board decided it would hire a private investigator—to investigate what, we’re not sure. That is going to cost county taxpayers a whopping $100 an hour.

We can’t understand what’s going on in that department that would require the resources of a private investigator. Brunswick County has a number of qualified, well-trained law enforcement investigators. If a criminal matter is an issue, why wasn’t the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office called upon for an investigation? As it is, even a member of the DSS board is a sheriff’s office employee.

If it is not a criminal matter, then the county or state have appropriate personnel grievance issues in place. Have any of these steps been taken? Should they be?

Why are Brunswick County taxpayers being left in the dark about what is going on with this department?

Further, on Tuesday evening, after calling for an emergency meeting the day before, DSS board chairman Charles Warren, who is also a county commissioner, was in such a rush to get into closed session, he failed to follow appropriate—and statutorily required—guidelines to announce a move into closed session.

It was a Beacon reporter that called Warren to task, asking he cite the statute that allowed a closed session to proceed. And when pushed, we believe he actually cited the wrong statute.

It was Orrock who pointed out from the audience that the board was about to go into closed session without even making a motion to do so.

The board should know better and most certainly Warren, as an elected official, should know better.

We’re also unclear how the board went about making a decision to end its relationship with attorney Norwood Blanchard and instead bring on Gary Shipman for legal guidance. When was this decision made? Who made it?

There are far too many questions right now and we think the public deserves more details about what is going on at DSS, and most importantly, we expect each and every member of that board to uphold open meetings and public records laws.