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County government, Here's your card!

web posted March 8, 2006

OPINION – EdgefieldDaily.com received a copy of the County Council agenda on Monday as we do every month. However, this time we noticed something very unusual, an executive session. Granted the council holding an executive session is not unusual, but the way this one was worded and to whom it refers, is.

“Council may convene in executive session, pursuant to Code Section 30-4-70 (a)(1) of the SC Code of Laws 1976, as amended, concerning a personnel matter regarding probate court, returning to regular session at the discretion of the Chairman,” the agenda stated.

Never have we seen a department listed when a “personnel matter” is taken up in executive session. In fact, in past cases, the county has refused our requests to identify the department the employee works in because “it is a small county” and as such it could lead to the identification of the employee the matter relates. It is a “privacy issue” Clerk to Council Barbara Stark has repeatedly informed EdgefieldDaily.com when we requested such information. Why this department was listed, making known the area the employee works limits the choices of employees to one of three individuals, is undoubtedly questionable.

Everyone in the county is well aware of the animosity that exists between the Administrator and the Probate Court. Could that be the reason it was done? Could it be a decision based on politics or personal vendettas?

Why was the matter even placed on the agenda? Clerk to Council Barbara Stark said in a phone call on Tuesday Administrator Adams had the item added to the agenda. The County Council has absolutely no authority over the personnel hired by any County elected Officer. Mr. Adams knows this, he ignores it, but he knows it. The County Council knows this fact as well, which is why the council refused to take up the agenda item at their Tuesday night meeting.

So why did Mr. Adams add an agenda item regarding a personnel issue related to the Probate Court knowing the matter cannot be discussed? Was it to make sure to identify the department and the employee in an effort to further a personal agenda?

Moreover, why did Mr. Adams violate the standard policy of the county not to include the department, and even more importantly that it referred to the office of an elected official, on an agenda handed out at the public meeting to a near full house of citizens?

With Mr. Adams requesting the item to be placed and printed on the widely distributed agenda the way he did, he may have not only violated county policy, he may have violated Privacy Act regulations.

This leaves us asking the ever-important question; has Mr. Adams lost his mind? Maybe he is operating uner the influcene of the narcotic pain killers he is taking after his recent sugery. Let's hope that is the case.

One question remains in either event, when will the County Council put their foot down on the constant and well-reported feud between Adams’ office and that of the Probate Court? Enough is enough. We feel Mr. Adams should be severely reprimanded for the intentional disclosure he chose to make public when he knowingly published, on county letter head, something outside of his, and the county's, purview.

We, as taxpayers, will be lucky if other employees in the Probate Court do not sue the county for the public printing of the allegation of a personnel issue with the minute number of employees in the Elected Office. The information printed casts attention upon each of them and makes each the focus of unwarranted and baseless examination in the public’s eye. Just in time for an election.

This leaves us saying one thing; Mr. Adams, “Here’s your card!”


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