05 December, 2013

What The St. Albans Codified Ordinances Document Says About Removal of Officers And Employees

By now, most St. Albans City Council members, the mayor and my regular readers know that on Monday I published a racist and offensive email that a St. Albans City Council member sent to me, the mayor and to others.

I have not yet publicly identified the City Councilman who sent the offensive email.  As you can see from the passage from the city code below, the racist city councilman will save himself a lot of humiliation - assuming he is capable of being humiliated - and the city a lot of controversy and embarrassment if he simply resigns. 

The decision to send offensive emails was a test of the man's character and judgment. He failed that test.

The decision about whether to resign is a test of his love for the city. If he gives a damn about St. Albans he will spare St. Albans the from the procedures described in the code below.

Now, to answer a few questions I've received, here are some verifiable facts that are not in dispute:
1. The offender admitted to me via email that he sent me offensive emails. 
2. The mayor and others were on the recipient list for the racist email I published.
3. The mayor acknowledges to me via email that he received this and other offensive emails.
4. At no time have I identified either orally or in writing the identity of the city council member who sent the racist email and other offensive emails to me and the mayor among others.

Below is the section of the city code that deals with removal of appointed officers and employees.

Chapter 5 Administrative
Personnel Rules

     Any appointed officer or any employee of the City may be removed from office for official misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty, or gross immorality. After receiving charges or grounds, filed in writing by any person, the Council may forthwith suspend such officer or employee for a period of thirty days. A copy of such charges or grounds shall be forthwith served upon the individual concerned in the manner provided by the statutes of West Virginia, for the service of notices. Such person shall have ten days from the date of such service in which to file a reply in writing with the Clerk.  Such person may, in the reply, request a public or private hearing by the Council. The date for such hearing shall be set by the Clerk at any reasonable time, not less than twenty nor more than forty days after the date of service above referred to, at which hearing, such person may be represented by counsel. All persons testifying at such hearing shall do so under oath, administered by the Mayor, Clerk or any Councilman. Such hearing may be continued for not more than a total of thirty days, by the Mayor, for due cause, at the request of any interested person or any City official. After such hearing, which shall be constituted a special meeting of the Council, the said Council, by a two-thirds vote of all of its members, may adopt a final resolution of removal, whereupon such person shall be deemed removed from office or employment, whether his successor be appointed and qualify, or not. If such officer or employee be suspended by the Council and be removed, he shall receive no compensation from the date of such suspension; if suspended and not removed, he shall receive his usual compensation from the date of such suspension; if not suspended, but removed, he shall receive his usual compensation up to the date of the vote by the Council to remove, and not thereafter. When paid in full, as hereinabove provided, the liability of the City to such person under his contract of employment shall be terminated. The City shall not be subject to any suit for libel or other damage, nor shall any officer or employee of the City be subject to any suit for libel, slander or other damage, as a result of any charges or grounds filed in writing, or any testimony given in such proceeding, whether the person is removed or not. Nothing herein contained or elsewhere contained in this Charter, is intended to restrict or prevent any office of the City or of the Council, to lay off, furlough or otherwise remove from employment, any employee of the City because of shortage of funds, reduction in work, seasonal or otherwise, or because of the abolishment of a job.

This document is available at the city website.
Higginbotham At Large reads all submitted comments but only publishes comments from clearly identified submitters. No Ring of Gyges for you.

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