Although, technically speaking, those decisions were made in
public in compliance with the state's open-meeting law, the
maneuvering -- political and otherwise -- which led up to them
took place behind closed doors in an executive session which
lasted for almost two hours on Mar. 21.
dénouement, when it finally came, raised more questions than it
The prospective advisor, for
instance, was identified only as Candidate 'A'. He or she was
of nine of the 12 Council
members present. Councilmen John Cartier, Penrose
Hollins and Robert Weiner preferred Candidate 'C'. No
one backed Candidate 'B'.
What observers found
interesting there was the division among the members.
Cartier, Hollins and Weiner -- along with Councilman Jea
Street, who did not attend the meeting -- have been
outspoken in their support of former auditor Robert
Hicks. The financial advisor job was created, after
Council fired Hicks, to handle a responsibility which
Hicks had been assigned in addition to his auditing
function. A new auditor has not yet been chosen.
Council president Paul
Clark said after the meeting that the aliases were
assigned to protect the identities of the job applicants
until they actually accepted a position. Among other
things, he said, that would keep their present bosses
from learning that they were job hunting. "The people we
interviewed wanted it that way," Clark said.
Even more confusing was
the fact that Council members voted unanimously in favor
of a starting salary of $110,982 for Wendy
Executive Christopher Coons nominated Anne
Farley to be general manager of the Department
of Community Services and Charlotte Crowell to
be human resources officer.
appointments are subject of confirmation by
is director of employment and training with the
state Department of Labor. Crowell has been in
personnel and employee relations positions with
Hercules Inc. since 1979.
administrative officer David Singleton told
Council's personnel committee that Coons will
nominate a chief financial officer as soon as
the prospective appointee has had an opportunity
to inform associates.
who went by the pseudoname Candidate 'A' when she was selected
to be counsel to Council as the position which formerly was
Council attorney is now known.
going into executive session, Council members reportedly voted
six-to-five to approve that salary. Any action, however,
requires affirmative votes by seven members, a majority of the
13-member Council. At that time, Councilman David Tackett also
was absent. Reportedly opposing the salary, in addition to
Cartier, Hollins and Weiner were Councilwoman Patty Powell and
Councilman William Tansey.
executive session ended soon after Tackett arrived.
after the unanimous vote what had happened to bring about such a
drastic change in how his colleagues lined up on the issue,
Tackett said he did not know. He said he had not made his
position known until the roll call in open session.
Councilman Timothy Sheldon, who presided over the meeting in his
role as chairman of Council's personnel committee, said no poll
was taken during the executive session. State law prohibits a
public body from taking any formal action out of the public
was no discussion about the matter among Council members before
the roll-call vote was taken.
said that he changed his vote on the salary because the outgoing
Council attorney, Carol Dulin, is to get a commensurate salary
increase retroactive to Jan. 17, when she was appointed to be
county solicitor in the county's law department. She had agreed
to stay on with Council until her successor was hired, which
would have had the effect of her giving up additional income to
which the executive branch position entitled her.
Dulin's retroactive raise, however, was provided for in an
ordinance which Council enacted unanimously on Mar. 8.
who moved to reconsider the salary issue as soon as the
committee returned from executive to open session, said nothing
improper had been done while the doors were closed. He said the
state law shields "sensitive personnel matters" from public
disclosure as a protection for the privacy of the individuals
who are involved.
the identity of the person chosen to be financial advisor, Clark
said, "We'd like to keep that private till we negotiate a
salary." He said that Council does not intend to ever make known
the identities of the unsuccessful candidates.
been advised by our attorney that that is fully in keeping with
what the law said we have to do," he said.
Danner's hiring reportedly was agreed to by a seven-to-six vote
on Mar. 14. Clark, Sheldon, Tackett, Councilmen James Bell,
Joseph Reda and George Smiley, and Councilwoman Karen Venezky
comprised the majority in that instance.
Danner, who formerly worked in both the state attorney general's
office and the county law department, is with the Saul Ewing law
firm and specializes in land use matters. Clark's wife, Pam
Scott, also works for that firm and also specializes in land use
matters. Danner's appointment is effective Apr. 1.