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Council revisits closed-session actions

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

 

The Lincolnton City Council conducted a special called meeting Wednesday night regarding two items council members had questionably acted upon in closed session at the Dec. 1 regular meeting.
Discussion and action on both the city manager’s contract and the proposed letter to the online publication, The Carolina Scoop, were the lone items on the night’s agenda.
First, a motion by council member Carroll Heavner to rescind the council’s previous decision directing City Attorney T.J. Wilson to draft a letter to The Scoop for alleging in a Dec. 1 article that City Manager Jeff Emory “plays politics on the job” was promptly passed unanimously.
Regarding Emory’s contract, council members voted unanimously to approve their previous motion to “amend the city manager’s contract by considering the cost-of-living adjustment separate from all other employees in November of each year.”
Mayor John Gilleland specified that they were voting on a contract with one of three years completed.
After calling the meeting to order, Gilleland said the council had been made aware of the fact that the action taken at December’s regular meeting “should have been done outside of closed session.”
As the Times-News has previously reported, open-meeting statutes mandate that any action taken must be done so in open session, though discussion is permitted in closed session in some circumstances.
In a notice alerting area news media to Wednesday’s meeting, it was stated that its intended purpose was to “discuss previous action taken.” Nonetheless, little discussion of either issue took place prior to council members voting.
Before the meeting was adjourned, Jon Mayhew, owner and publisher of The Scoop, asked Gilleland if he could speak.
Mayhew had released a prepared statement he planned to address to council members and the mayor, parts of which the Times-News published Wednesday.
However, Gilleland declined Mayhew’s request, saying that public comments are the standard procedure at regular meetings but not so during a special called meeting.
The Times-News has requested the public record of the vote breakdown on both actions from the closed session, but has not yet received that information from the city.

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