Harrington votes to send letter over unspecified personnel matter

DOVER — After an hourlong closed-door meeting, Harrington City Council voted Monday to send a letter on an unspecified personnel matter. Council did not disclose the purpose of the letter or its intended recipient, with Vice Mayor Amy Minner citing privacy laws.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the vote, Monday’s agenda contained an item for an executive session for a personnel matter.

That meeting and executive session was the latest in a series since allegations arose against City Manager Don Williams and Mayor Tony Moyer.

In October, former city planner Jeremy Rothwell officially accused Mr. Williams and Mr. Moyer of misusing their positions for personal gain. Speaking before City Council, he alleged Mr. Williams collected paychecks for numerous hours in which he was not actually working and Mr. Moyer bullied employees, ignored local ordinances and used city resources for his own benefit.

Following Mr. Rothwell’s claims, 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 voluntarily stepped away from his city duties. Police Chief Norm Barlow is serving as acting city manager in the interim.

Following the closed-door meeting Monday, City Council reopened the door to invite the three remaining members of the public back in the chamber, and Councilman Micah Parker made a motion to “formulate the letter as per discussed in the executive session.”

By a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Eric Marquis as the only dissenter, the body voted to send the mysterious letter.

Asked afterward if an announcement about the purpose of the letter would be forthcoming, Ms. Minner said there would be once Council receives a response. She did not know when that would be.

Questioned directly if the executive session was about disciplining Mr. Williams in some way, such as termination, Ms. Minner said she did not believe she could legally answer.

Mr. Williams was hired as city manager in February 2017 after nine years with Milford in code enforcement and building inspection. He received a five-year agreement worth $66,500 in the first year, with pay raises of at least 3 percent in subsequent years, according to a copy of that contract provided by Mr. Rothwell.

At a City Council meeting two weeks ago, Mr. Rothwell said the city’s manager calendar and timesheets, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act, indicate he 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.

He also cited 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 the former city planner presented.

“This all constitutes fraud, and he should be criminally prosecuted for the before-mentioned crimes,” Mr. Rothwell wrote in a letter distributed to City Council two weeks ago.

Mr. Rothwell was fired from the city in June, which he says was improper and motivated partially by a personal vendetta by the manager and mayor. He has since filed a lawsuit against Harrington.

Mr. Williams’ wife, Judy, spoke in defense of her husband at a previous City Council meeting.

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

Facebook Comment