Minor censured on split vote of council

Friday, June 13, 2014

By Karen Hall

Editor

The Lewisburg city council chamber was nearly full when the council met Tuesday night. People were drawn to the meeting to see what would happen to the resolution to censure Councilman Robin Minor.

When they reached that item on the agenda. Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. immediately moved to table the resolution, but this failed on a 3-2 vote.

Whitehead then moved to defer discussion, until a meeting with all councilmen, and the mayor, city manager and city attorney could be held. This also failed on a 3-2 vote.

"I have problems with the way it is written," Whitehead exclaimed. "I would ask that my name be removed." Whitehead was mentioned in the resolution as a witness to the altercation that took place at the Rec Center between Minor and former Recreation Director Jimmy Stitt on May 19, which led to Stitt's resignation, and the resolution to censure Minor.

Councilman Steve Thomas read the resolution for the record.

It states, among other things, Stitt "resigned on the spot and the city lost a valued staff member." It calls Minor's conduct "an embarrassment" and says he was "verbally abusive" and "impaired the dignity of the governing body."

"I don't feel comfortable going down the road with this resolution," said Whitehead. "I was not consulted. I do not agree with this type of action. This is a wrong road to take."

Minor was allowed to give his own explanation of the incident.

"When we went there on May 19, no one went with the intention to make Jimmy mad," he said. "We went because all five councilmen said they wanted the pool filled to see what would happen. We found the pool was empty and full of leaves and debris, and I said to Jimmy, 'Six days ago we asked that this pool be filled.'"

Councilman Artie Allen was also there at the Rec Center, and Minor said he was the one who brought up the fact that the indoor pool had been closed for lifeguard training.

At this point, Minor said Stitt belligerently asked, "Well, just when were we supposed to do the training?"

"I did raise my voice," Minor admitted. "They could have done the training when the indoor pool is closed. I apologize for raising my voice."

Councilman Trigg Cathey then read into the record a letter he had written.

It states, among other things, "Our employees should not and will not have to work in a hostile work environment, being intimidated and micro-managed by any councilman. They should ... only have to answer to their immediate supervisor. If a councilman has a problem with their work, it must be addressed through the chain of command."

Cathey's letter goes on to state, "The employees of the City of Lewisburg deserve better. This bullying and intimidating of our employees has got to stop. Now. ... This is not personal ... So many wonderful improvements in Lewisburg are just starting to 'bloom,' we must fix this problem and not let it slow down our progress."

"I would ask the city manager if he finds any council member is micromanaging,' said Whitehead, to laughter from the audience.

"Yes, I do," replied City Manager Randall Dunn.

A vote on the resolution to censure Minor was then called for, and the resolution passed 3-2, with Whitehead and Minor casting the "no" votes.

The meeting proceeded, with unanimous approval for several more resolutions.

Then it was time for citizens' comments.

"I think Councilman Minor's done a good job," said Andy Henson.

"I've known Mr. Minor for over 20 years," said Jason Crabtree. "He is a great person. I think it's horrible that they censure him for trying to fill his job description. I think it's horrible!"

This was greeted with applause, and then Mayor Jim Bingham adjourned the meeting.

People talking in the hall afterwards said they didn't realize it was going to end so quickly. Kim Adams said she had intended to speak.

"This was an injustice," Adams said. "I've known Robin Minor as a neighbor and as a teacher. He is a good man. He is a great person."