CLINTON - The Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss personnel matters, but adjourned after legal adviser Charles E. Griffin II said members are barred from discussing a person’s character in open session.
Griffin also said the meeting should “not just be a forum to gripe.”
Police Chief Eddie Stewart confirmed in an interview before the special meeting that he was aware of malfeasance in office complaints lodged against three members of the Police Department, but that the complaints, made by other police officers, were not made directly to him.
“Why not come to me?” Stewart asked.
The police chief said he had not fired any police officers, although one had resigned.
Stewart also said that “some type” of an investigation against a police officer is under way.
Alderwoman Lori Ann Bell said during the meeting that a number of citizens in the audience wanted to air complaints in regard to unspecified allegations against members of the Police Department.
But Griffin advised board members they had to conduct discussions of a person’s character in executive sessions, but not open meetings.
He suggested that the citizens bring their complaints to the aldermen, and the board members bring the issues raised to the table for discussion and action.
Griffin further suggested that aldermen use special sessions such as Wednesday’s meeting for matters such as approaching hurricanes, and use the board’s regular meetings as platforms to discuss topics such as personnel matters.
Bell called for adjournment after extensively questioning Griffin, and also learning that the published notice of the special meeting had to notify employees whose conduct might be in question and that the board had the option of meeting behind closed doors.
Personnel matters, without further explanation, was the only agenda topic listed for the special meeting.
Alderwoman Bell said she did not feel comfortable in continuing the meeting and apologized to the public for her presence at the session.
Bell criticized both Griffin and Town Clerk Andrea Adams for failing to respond to her phone calls in regard to putting more specific information on the meeting agenda.
Adams replied that it was Bell who did not communicate.
After the meeting, Bell said the “town of Clinton needs a change,” and added that she is “sick of the division.”
Veteran Alderman George Kilbourne agreed with Bell’s assertion that change is needed, saying that changes would be made.