Harrington: After long executive session, no action

HARRINGTON — City Council spent almost two hours in executive session discussing a personnel matter Monday, about six weeks after a former city employee accused the mayor and city manager of misusing their positions and breaking the law.

While City Council ultimately did not take any action and offered no details on what went on behind the scenes Monday night, it’s clear there was headbutting between members over the allegations. The agenda item for the executive session included a bullet point referencing a personnel issue and raised voices could be heard coming from City Hall during the closed-door portion of the meeting.

In October, ex-city planner Jeremy Rothwell, who worked for Harrington from 2016 until June, formally requested City Council conduct an investigation into City Manager Don Williams and Mayor Anthony Moyer, alleging both had acted not just unethically but illegally in their roles.

Mr. Williams was accused of time theft and use of office for personal gain, while Mr. Rothwell charged Mr. Moyer with bullying employees, ignoring city ordinances and benefiting from his position as mayor of the southern Kent County municipality.

Following Mr. Rothwell’s allegations, City Council members agreed to an investigation, which was launched by the Public Integrity Commission a few weeks ago. The commission, a state body, has jurisdiction over ethics complaints involving elected officials.

During the investigation, Mr. Williams is on paid leave, while Mr. Moyer has temporarily stepped away from his city duties. Police Chief Norm Barlow is serving as acting city manager in the interim.

Mr. Rothwell spoke Monday before council broke for a closed-door discussion, referencing city documents he said he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act. According to the city manager’s calendar and timesheets provided by Mr. Rothwell, Mr. Williams took 58 personal appointments and seven days off from his hiring in February 2017 through June 2019 but did not use any personal or sick time.

Mr. Rothwell on Monday referenced a recent conference in Nashville, Tennessee, that Mr. Williams attended. While the conference lasted from Oct. 20 to Oct. 23, Mr. Williams stayed for seven days, bringing his family with him.

He charged their travel costs to the city, ultimately reimbursing it after Mr. Rothwell first presented the allegations to City Council, according to the documents Mr. Rothwell presented.

Collectively, the evidence is “staggering,” he said.

“This all constitutes fraud, and he should be criminally prosecuted for the before-mentioned crimes,” Mr. Rothwell wrote in a letter previously sent to Mr. Barlow and distributed Monday.

Mr. Williams’ wife, Judy, was among those in attendance Monday. Although she did not speak, she did defend her husband at a meeting last month.

“He probably does 120 hours a week,” she said at the time, pushing back on claims he regularly worked less than 40 hours a week but collected a full paycheck.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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