The City of Columbia City Council met for a Special Called Meeting on Monday, May 05, 2003, in the City Hall Council Chambers, 1737 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina. Mayor Robert D. Coble called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m. Council members present were The Honorable E.W. Cromartie, II, The Honorable Jim D. N. Papadea, The Honorable Anne M. Sinclair, The Honorable Hamilton Osborne, Jr., The Honorable Sam Davis and The Honorable Tameika C. Isaac. Also present were Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., Interim City Manager and Ms. Pamela J. Ferst, City Clerk.
Mayor Coble opened the Public Hearing at 9:07 a.m.
A. PUBLIC HEARING - TERMINATION OF LEONA K. PLAUGH AS CITY MANAGER
Attorney Charles Boykin, asked Council to acknowledge several issues
regarding the public hearing. Mr. Boykin objected to Mr. Richard
Gergelís participation in the hearing and any deliberations until after
City Council has voted because Mr. Gergelís involvement would interfere
with the fundamental fairness of substantial justice. He also objected
to speakers being allowed to criticize Ms. Plaugh during their speech.
Mr. Boykin stated that this proceeding is to determine if the substance
of the document constitutes just cause to terminate the contract and employment
of the City Manager. He alleged that City Council terminated Ms.
Plaugh based on a document that was not published or acted upon.
He also argued that City Council did not provide Ms. Plaugh with a 6-month
evaluation as called for in her employment contract.
Ms. Leona K. Plaugh, urged the members of Council to open their hearts and minds to reflect and reconsider their decision to terminate her employment as City Manager. She insisted that she did not violate any terms of her employment contract, State law or city policy, but it was a matter of public concern. Ms. Plaugh stated that the document was a management analysis tool or cryptic notes, but not a memo. She suggested that the results of a management survey that was conducted in March 2001 were her marching orders when she became the City Manager. Ms. Plaugh recited a section of the State Law that prohibits the members of Council from dealing with municipal officers and employees who are subject to the direction or supervision of the City Manager except through the City Manager. She stated that employees were asking for ethical guidance and leadership and that she too was concerned about information flow, streamlining the organizational chart, chain of command, adhering to State Law, communication and micromanagement by Council. She asked why wasnít she afforded the opportunity to explain her notes and were her notes the sole basis of termination? She admitted to developing the document on a flip chart and then giving the information to a subordinate to type along with the original proposed re-organizational chart. Ms. Plaugh informed the members of Council that in the Harvard Business Review you would find the terms moats, alligators, destroy and enemies, but she used the terms in her own context to think through what she needed to accomplish. Ms. Plaugh stated that the individuals listed in the document also received large salary increases and/or merit bonuses within 30-60 days after she developed the cryptic notes. She admitted that she never addressed her concerns with the employees listed. Ms. Plaugh asked if her notes warranted her termination after twenty-six years?
Attorney Charles Boykin, presented his closing arguments to the members of Council. He stated that Ms. Plaugh should be reinstated as City Manager.
· Mayor Coble adjourned the Public Hearing at 12:03 p.m. to break.
· Mayor Coble reconvened the Public Hearing at 12:11 p.m.
The following individuals appeared before Council in support of Ms. Leona K. Plaugh:
Mr. Jay Stradley, Jr.
Mr. Bill Manley
Ms. Marie Dugan
Mr. Jack White
Ms. Barbara Chappell
Ms. Lynn Bailey
Ms. June Tomlinson
Mr. Harris Hennessee
Mr. Richard Davis
Mr. Margo Winqard
Ms. Myrtle Gordon
Ms. Jewell Patterson
Ms. Kathryn Bellefield
Mr. Rhett Anders
Mr. Arthur Jones
Mr. M. Joshua Muhammad
Mr. Robert Smith
The following individuals appeared before Council in support of the employees:
Ms. Libby Gober
Ms. Shirley Gossett
Ms. Frieda Gossett
Mr. Mel Jenkins
Mr. Donny Phipps
The following individuals appeared before Council neither in support of nor against Ms. Plaugh:
Rev. Margie Gallman
Rev. Gail Anderson
Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Mr. Osborne, Council voted unanimously to go into Executive Session at 1:43 p.m.
· Mayor Coble reconvened the Public Hearing at 2:27 p.m.
B. COUNCIL ACTION ON QUESTION OF TERMINATION OF LEONA K. PLAUGH AS CITY MANAGER
Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Ms. Sinclair, Council voted unanimously to reaffirm the vote previously made to terminate Ms. Leona K. Plaugh as City Manager.
Mayor Coble adjourned the meeting at 2:44 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by:
Pamela J. Ferst, CPS