Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James took to the "local paper's" on-line edition to answer some of the questions posted as comments on a story published in this morning's paper.
Some people have asked why the County Commission had the discussion in closed session? (and) Couldn't the board discuss this in public if we wanted to?
The answer to that, has not been discussed in the media, but the reason for it is that the law gives the Manager (Harry Jones) total control and doesn't allow the (Board) Commission the right to discuss matters in closed session UNLESS THE MANAGER AGREES UP FRONT. This is true EVEN if the reason for the discussion is the Manager's own performance.
The law is flawed. Here is a piece of an e-mail from the County Attorney dated 2-14-2011 at 11:07AM:
"Note that it is the Manager, after receiving the concurrence of the board of commissioners, who makes the disclosures. The BOCC cannot make the disclosure in counties with a county manager."
§ 153A-98. Privacy of employee personnel records
(7) The county manager, with concurrence of the board of county commissioners, or, in counties not having a manager, the board of county commissioners may inform any person of the employment or non employment, promotion, demotion, suspension or other disciplinary action, reinstatement, transfer, or termination of a county employee and the reasons for that personnel action.
So, the Commissioners can 'concur' if the Manager agrees but we cannot over-rule the manager and make the discussion public without him.
We were told that to violate this would put the nine of us subject to arrest.
Taxedtoomuch in reply to Bill James
Bill, thank you for the information. Does Harry Jones have the legal authority to release personnel information at his own discretion? To this average citizen that he is immune from pulling stunts like this to cover his fanny. Please tell us unless it is top, top secret and protected by political protection laws what would be a firing offense. Seems all of his apologies cover what seem to be firing offenses.
Bill James in reply to Taxedtoomuch
Harry has the authority to ASK for the information to be public under the law and then the Commission can vote to agree and release it.
The Commission doesn't have the right to force Harry to release it or to take action against him for refusing to do so. If the Manager doesn't want to release the info, the Commission has no authority to over rule him even if the subject matter under discussion might be about him or his actions. Because of a change in Commission policy I proposed, there is a audio recording of the session.