City officials reconsider putting city manager on paid leave

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Outgoing Hamlet City Manager Marchell Adams-David will work through her resignation date after all.

Adams-David resigned July 21 in a brief letter to city officials. She indicated her last day of work would be Aug. 22, but there was talk among council members of putting her on a paid leave status beginning today or Tuesday. It’s not clear who initiated the discussion. Mayor Bill Bayless referred questions to city attorney T.C. Morphis Jr.

Marchell Adams-David

Marchell Adams-David

Morphis said that was to be the primary discussion of a special meeting of the City Council that was scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday. Morphis said Monday, however, that meeting had been cancelled and instead the council will meet at its regularly scheduled time and date of 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 12 at City Hall.

Morphis said putting Adams-David on paid leave through her departure date was an idea considered by “one or two council members.”

“I think the council has changed direction now,” Morphis said. “I think she’s going to be asked to continue to work until Aug. 22. At this time, I’m not aware of the council deciding to let her leave with pay before her last effective day on the 22nd. It’s not something they could sort of vote on by email. They would need to make a decision like that in open session.”

Morphis insisted that there was no connection between the timing of Adams-David’s departure and the start of the independent investigation council members are seeking. The investigation will revolve around Adams-David’s firing of former police chief John Haywood and alleged improprieties within the police department. Haywood’s 20-plus years of service in Hamlet came to an end in 2012 when Adams-David fired him for gross negligence in the carrying out of his administrative duties; specifically, that he failed to supervise departmental operations which resulted in the improper spending of city funds.

“Her leaving doesn’t really have anything to do with this,” Morphis said. “This investigation that the council wanted to do it … because we got to a point where we realized, we’re not going to get enough information” from the state Bureau of Investigation.

Morphis clarified that the SBI investigation had two parts. First, investigators were to determine whether or not there was sufficient evidence to bring embezzlement charges against Haywood or any other office in the department.

“They’ve concluded that investigation,” Morphis said. No one is known to have been charged with such a crime.

Second, Morphis said, SBI investigators were to determine if there was any violation of the North Carolina judicial standards for judges as there were a number of questionable, partially completed judges’ order forms that allowed Hamlet police officers to seize privately owned vehicles.

“My understanding is they have not finished their report” on the second component, Morphis said.

Morphis called it “an interesting quirk” that neither he nor the city council might ever get to see the report.

“I have not actually seen a report for either of them,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to be allowed to.”

Thus, he said, the reason for an independent investigator whose aim will be to determine whether or not proper procedures were in place for the police department and whether or not those procedures were followed.

“What needs to be done correctly, or better,” Morphis asked. “That’s what we’re hoping to (find out). Get an outside investigator who can look at these kinds of questions. I think it’s important we have someone who is not connected to the city. Someone outside, respected …”

This latest investigation might not happen the way the City Council intends. The North Carolina League of Municipalities has stepped in, for insurance purposes, to protect its interests. The win for the city of Hamlet is that the bill for city taxpayers will be capped at an estimated $5,000. The loss, however, could be that city officials don’t get all of the data the investigation might reveal — and Morphis said that whatever they do get, they might not be permitted to share with the public.

Morphis emphasized it’s an investigation that’s being done by request of the Hamlet City Council. Due to attorney-client privilege and personnel privacy laws, however, there could be little to be shared with the public.

“Most personnel information is not public record,” Morphis said.

Regardless, Morphis said, he said there’s “a really good chance” city officials obtain enough information to move forward from the years-long controversy.

 

Filed in: Latest Headlines, News

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  • Mark Joplin

    Wow. For T.C. Morphis Jr. to say “its not the sort of thing to vote on by EMAIL”. That sounds to me like, maybe, there matters that are voted on/discussed by EMAIL. I think the PEE DEE Post should file to have ALL public and private emails of council, and mayor, released to see just how far public matters are being discussed outside the public forum. I only say this due to the upheaval displayed so far by the newly elected council. And its the right of the public to know.

    All votes are to be in public forum, are they not.

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