Mooresville administrative staff has verified the town’s planning director lied about complaining to the state about Josh’s Farmers Market, but no disciplinary action has been taken. And in fact, Town Manager Randy Hemann has withheld the information from the town board for almost a month.
The Scoop reported on June 15 that Planning Director Danny Wilson lied when he stated in an email on June 6 that he did not sic state regulators on Josh’s Farmers Market (JFM).
Public records, instead, revealed that Wilson called the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) on May 10, reporting his suspicion that JFM was selling “illegal beef.”
According to the state’s compliance referral form, which was taken at the time the complaint was called in, Wilson identified himself as “Planning Director in Mooresville.” He provided a phone number, asking for a return call because “he also has some questions about the regulations for selling meat.”
An after-hours call to the provided number — 704-799-7597 — forwards to a message recorded by Wilson asking the caller to leave a voicemail.
The complaint to the state triggered a surprise, taxpayer-funded inspection of the market that turned up no violations.
The morning after the Scoop’s story broke about Wilson lying, Commissioners Gary West and Eddie Dingler reportedly asked town staff to confirm the information.
That day, on June 16 at 11:16 a.m., Jane Crosby, assistant to the town manager’s office, contacted NCDA&CS, requesting the following:
- A copy of all public records requests made to the NC Department of Agriculture regarding Grampian Farms, Josh’s Farmers Market, Josh Graham, and Danny Wilson from January 1, 2021 to June 16, 2023.
- A copy of all NC Department of Agriculture documents, emails, recordings, and records of any kind regarding Grampian Farms, Josh’s Farmers Market, Josh Graham, and Danny Wilson from January 1, 2021 to June 16, 2023
Three hours later, at 2:16 p.m., Town Clerk Genevieve Glaser also wrote the state, asking to expand the town’s request “to include the phone logs/records for incoming calls on the day the attached complaint was received and a record of outgoing or follow up calls that were made regarding the attached complaint.”
The state completed the town’s public records request on June 28, according to an email from Karen Beck, director of the NCDA&CS meat and poultry division to Crosby, Glaser, Hemann and NCDA&CS Assistant General Counsel Neil T. Oakley.
The town would have received at least the same documents that the state had previously released to the Scoop.
In answering Scoop questions, an NCDA&CS representative explained that while NCDA&CS does not keep phone logs, its “standard procedure” is to complete a compliance referral form when someone calls in a concern or complaint. The state collects the complainant’s name and phone number, and standard procedure is to pass the complaint along to a compliance inspector. That inspector, then, calls back the person who called in the complaint or concern.
In this case, Danny Wilson is listed as the caller, and a number was provided. If the state followed its stated standard procedure, a phone call would have been made to the number provided after the complaint was created with the state, and someone would have spoken with the original caller.
“There’s no reason to believe that we did not follow standard procedure in this case,” said Brandon Herring, public information officer with the NCDA&CS public affairs office.