The Reidsville City Council established an ethics committee in January of this as part of a transparency overhaul after the swearing in of newly elected mayor Sydney Clifton.
At the regularly scheduled meeting in January, Mayor Clifton nominated Vicki Nail, Donald Prestage, and Attorney DuAnn Davis to serve on the committee. In the presence of City Attorney Van Cheney and 3 council members, the vote was unanimous and all three were appointed to the board effective immediately.
Councilmen Virgil Duckworth and John Wingate did not attend the meeting.
Now, more than four months later, Attorney Van Cheney sent a letter to city council members and the mayor stating that “in his opinion,” the vote was illegal and a new committee should be appointed. He said he was writing the letter after receiving concerns from council members over the legitimacy of the committee. Because council persons Doug Williams, Carolyn Blackshear, and Curtis Colwell were all present at the meeting in question, speculation has circulated that it was councilmen Duckworth and Wingate that brought concerns forth to Cheney.
The problem, Cheney says is that 4/5 of persons present were needed, not the 3/5 that decided the vote in January, however quorum in the city of Reidsville- per the charter – is just 3.
Opponents of the dissolution and reappointment of the committee say the move is part of a personnel vendetta. Two of the three members of the ethics committee were strong opponents of the Cheney Law Office purchase last fall.
Additionally, there is a potential case already in the works – one that has been discussed illegally by the council during a executive session – and the Mayor believes the changes are an effort to tip the scales against him. He says the charges coming against him are false, but council members who have been working against him since elected would like to see a more unfavorable outcome.
Prestage, Nail, and Davis all expressed dissatisfaction with the implication that their service is neither legitimate nor unbiased and have asked the council to consider that the ordinance for the ethics committee does, in fact, permit the mayor to have a vote.
Councilwoman Carolyn Blackshear was the voice of reason asking for more time and suggested meeting to come to a consensus at the May 9 meeting.
Councilman Virgil Duckworth departed before the meeting adjourned. Van Cheney was not present.
All is referenced in the May 2 meeting. Watch the video below:
Oligarchy, Chaos returns to Reidsville
Posted by Jessica Szilagyi on Monday, May 2, 2016