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Greenville Town Meeting: Former council member refuses to vacate

John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.

On Monday evening, Nov. 13, the Greenville Town Council held their regularly scheduled meeting, at 6 p.m., at the Greenville Town Hall. The meeting immediately followed a special workshop, at 5 p.m., presented by town attorney, John Reid, out of Tallahassee. Those in attendance were council members: Barbara Dansey, Brandi Seabrooks and Joi Collins; Town Mayor and Council Chairman, Calvin Malone; and former councilman, Kovacherich Arnold.

Just a few minutes after 5 p.m., Mayor Malone led the council and the citizens in a time of prayer and the pledge of allegiance. After the pledge, Council woman, Barbara Dansey objected to Mr. Kovacherich Arnold sitting at the table; which insinuates that he still holds the seat of council member. Town attorney, John Reid, then came to the podium, presenting sample rules and procedures of how cities, such as Destin and Hollywood, Fl., are run. Robert's Rules of Order was also discussed. Issues specific to Greenville, such as attendance and excused absences, which have been a main concern, were discussed by Reid.

Before Reid continued, Kim Reams, Greenville Town Clerk, questioned Reid about a regular Robert's Rules of Order and a Robert's Rules of Order for small groups. Reams wanted to know if the town hall should define which Rules of Order should be used. Reid replied, “The Robert's Rules [book] is a big book. There's a lot of stuff you're never going to use.” Reid expressed that having the regular Robert's Rules would be more sufficient as a “just-in-case.”

Reid spoke about the importance of the meetings running through the chair, who would be Mayor Calvin Malone. “It is a good way to just maintain order,” said Reid. “And it promotes respect. The chair is the chair. [The chair] is not superior, but they're running the meeting.” Reid expressed that he came to show samples, go through rules and procedures, and receive feedback from the council. It was vital to hear from the council to be able to properly draft a procedural charter, to fit the Town of Greenville and how it should be run.

Mayor Malone said that not enough time was available, if the regular meeting was to stay on schedule, to discuss opinions from everybody. “We need to stay on task for 6 [p.m.]” said Malone. Another meeting was scheduled to sit down for thoughts and opinions. Council members Barbara Dansey and Brandi Seabrooks said that scheduling another meeting was good for them as well, giving the council enough time to look over sample rules and procedures. Mayor Malone was under the impression that a charter draft was going to be brought that night. “We already know what our problems are,” said Malone. “We need to get this done.”

Due to the holidays, scheduling a special meeting was difficult. Malone said that an hour would not be enough time to discuss a charter draft. Town Manager, Edward Dean asked if the meeting could start at 4 p.m., two hours before the regularly scheduled meeting, but select council members would not be able to make that appointment, due to work hours.

Malone wanted to schedule a meeting from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., but councilwoman Dansey objected, “I have appointments, two or three appointments I have during the week, so I'm not saying I will be available.”

Mayor Malone replied, “Well, that's why we're trying to come up with this excuse rule.”

Councilwoman Dansey interrupted Malone, “That's why I said to meet an hour before the next meeting.”

Dean suggested to divide the charter throughout a couple of months but Malone reiterated the urgency to get the charter completed. A special meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11, at 5 p.m., at the Greenville Town Hall.

The regular scheduled meeting began at 6 p.m. with a time of prayer and the pledge of allegiance. Once seated, Councilwoman Dansey once again objected to Mr. Arnold sitting at the table. Reams expressed that she normally only writes down who is attending but Malone insisted on adopting acknowledgement during the meetings.

Mayor Malone began talking about general and miscellaneous business. No department reports were discussed.

Next, Dean approached the podium to formally introduce himself to the City. At the time of the meeting, Dean was in his third week as town manager. Dean discussed that when the December meeting takes place, he will have a more “comprehensive report on projects.” Dean expressed that he believed in a participatory government and believes that the council and himself are in place to serve the people, not the opposite.

Eddie Powell, a citizen of Greenville came to the podium after recognizing that Greenville has received a town manager.

“I want to know how can you run a City without a city manager,” said Powell, twice.

“Well, that's why we've granted your request,” said Malone.

Powell then continued asking about notifications on changes in his utility bill. “When your bill goes up, why don't we get a letter...” asked Powell, “just like a water bill?” Discussion took place about prices equating to gallons of water being used. “Tri-County takes an average of your yearly bill and that's what you will pay monthly, whether your under or over your usage. Greenville is not set up in that way,” said Councilwoman Collins. Powell was asked to take his seat after the conversation reached a three minute limit. Before the meeting started, Manager Dean asked all citizens to keep comments under three minutes.

Mrs. Patricia Hinton came to the podium, welcoming Mr. Dean to the town hall. “I'd like to echo Mrs. Dansey's objection to Mr. Arnold sitting at the table,” said Hinton. “Two attorneys have found that he is not a member of council and it is an insult to the community that he is here.” One other citizen was called upon but no remarks were made.

Though Arnold was sitting in the seat, attendance records show that he is not rightfully on the council of Greenville anymore. On June 2, former City Attorney Clay Schnitker wrote a memorandum, determining that Mr. Arnold vacated his position as a Town Council member, pursuant to the explicit terms of the town charter. Arnold missed four meetings between July of 2006 and February 2017. The charter states that any council member who misses three or more regular or special meeting in a twelve-month period, that council member shall vacate his/her seat. Arnold's seat has been considered vacant since Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Mrs. Reams announced that auditors will be coming at the beginning of January to perform their audit. The next regularly scheduled meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m.

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