Council rejects motion to offer contract to David

Another 3-2 for Hamlet City Council

By Kevin Spradlin

HAMLET — Hamlet City Councilman Tony Clewis capped a summary of last month’s announcement by city attorney T.C. Morphis Jr. that City Manager Marchell Adams-David’s employment contract was invalid, and subsequently voided by council, with the idea that Morphis found nothing wrong with giving David a contract except  that some of the terms and procedures needed to be modified.

Marchell Adams-David

Marchell Adams-David

Clewis made the motion Tuesday night, seconded by Councilman Pat Preslar, to have Morphis draft a new employment agreement that would offer to Adams-David almost every single item in the contract that was offered and signed by her last fall, one month prior to the November election. This time, however, Clewis said Morphis could simply fix the parts of the process, including the lack of a defined contract length, and reward a deserving city employee who has some 20 years of experience in Hamlet. Clewis recalled that Morphis said that many mangers at the city level in North Carolina do, in fact, have employment contracts.

The terms of the contract offered to Adams-David last October included a buyout, upon involuntary separation, that would have cost city taxpayers the value of one year of Adams-David’s salary. Further, taxpayers would have had to pay her the value of her accrued leave as well as the value of 12 months’ medical insurance premiums at the city employee rate. Adams-David also garnered a 5 percent raise, but that was not included in the terms of the contract. Council members on Tuesday did not speak to whether the raise is still in effect.

Discussion ensued after the motion, during which Councilman Johnathan Buie said that fellow council members often have asked what other nearby jurisdictions are doing when an issue comes up. Buie said he checked and verified that Richmond County Manager Rick Sago and Rockingham City Manager Monty Crump both work without a contract. Buie has said though he cast the lone dissenting vote last fall when the council offered the contract to David in the first place, he did not do so because of any lack of faith in Adams-David’s performance but simply that it would have been precedent-setting.

“If they were (working with a contract), then I felt like we probably need to be on board,” Buie said.

Without one, though, Buie indicated his mind was made up. The motion to have Morphis draft a new contract for Adams-David died by a 3-2 vote, with Preslar and Clewis voting for and members Eddie Martin, Jesse McQueen and Buie voting against issuing such a directive.

Preslar later said he thought offering Adams-David a new contract “was a good idea.”

“The three times that our city attorney found that were not consistent with most contracts, we were asking (him) to come back with that amended,” Preslar said. “I hate that we can’t agree to do something like that and reward an employee … but I”m on the minority’s side.”

Preslar noted that the Richmond County NAACP can clearly see Adams-David’s value to not only Hamlet but the rest of Richmond County and North Carolina. At its annual membership banquets Friday night, the local NAACP honored Adams-David with the prestigious Humanitarian Award. The award has only been bestowed by the Richmond County chapter four times since 1978.

Adams-David, of Rockingham, has been on leave since early April. She was not present at the meeting.


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