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Lebanon censures personnel leader - Council approves one-hour firewall, 20-feet setbacks
Aug 08, 2006 12:00 am
Personnel Director Jim Henderson was censured Tuesday by the City Council in a lengthy and often contentious session.
While it ultimately does not affect Henderson's job status, the resolution cites failure to notify police officers of their personnel information being released, lagging in updating the city's Rules and Regulations and hiring felons against established policy.
Ward 2 City Councilor Kevin Huddleston said the resolution – which was passed unanimously – was about accountability.
"If the people of the second ward are going to hold me accountable, then I'm going to hold these department heads accountable," said Huddleston, who sponsored the resolution. " … We've got to do something because we can't keep allowing mistakes to be made. What if there had been a felon that had the address of one of these officers? That would be laying on the City Council."
After questioning by Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer, Henderson admitted a law requiring police officers be notified of personnel information within three days of its release was likely violated. However, he did say he was unaware of the law until after the fact.
"With the information I got subsequent to that, we did not follow those procedures," Henderson said.
Farmer also said Henderson may have violated the city's rules prohibiting "abusive criticism of his superior or other public official" via a statement distributed to local media. In the statement Henderson said the censure resolution was "a farce and smokescreen to take away attention from raising rates, with more to come, not following state and federal guidelines and other short comings."
Henderson apologized and responded by saying he was "reacting toward abusive comments toward me" and said if the Council "has broken any laws, I haven't heard about it."
Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath, responding to Huddleston's comments stating he had been misled by more than one department head, reminded Henderson it takes four councilors and the mayor's votes to fire a department head.
"You've been given this insulation, and I would highly recommend … you start using it," Warmath said.
Huddleston also criticized Mayor Don Fox for his comments in a recent Lebanon Democrat article, where Fox called Huddleston the "least experienced (and) least knowledgeable councilor" and implied Huddleston had been cajoled by Farmer into introducing the resolution.
"It's not politics as usual," Huddleston said. "I didn't run against you, so it's not politics as usual."
Fox responded by saying he felt disrespected because he was contacted by local media before Huddleston notified him of the resolution.
"For you to publicly disrespect me, I think, is unprofessional on your part," Huddleston responded. "I would never do that to you. … It's my resolution."
In other business, the Council passed on first reading a resolution requiring a one-hour firewall with any doors and windows also being fire-retardant for any lots allowing five feet between the house and the adjacent property line. If passed on second reading current building codes would be strengthened to include this provision. However, this provision does not apply to homes built with a sprinkler system installed.
The Council also passed a resolution, effective Oct. 1, which would require at least 10 feet between the home and the property line, or at least 20 feet between homes. If passed on second reading it would apply only to plans submitted on or after Oct. 1, meaning none currently in the system – unless they are resubmitted – would be affected.
Staff Writer Jason Cox can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at email@example.com.