Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The appointment of Catherine Windham as Clerk of County Council hit a snag during the March 18 Berkeley County Council meeting.
Her appointment was halted by Supervisor Dan Davis, and Vice Chairman Dennis Fish and Davis disputed to whom she would report.
According to Davis, the law states that the supervisor is responsible for the hiring and firing of all county employees except those hired by elected officials.
“While it’s been the practice for the last several years that the vice chairman has been in charge of the clerk of council’s office, it’s not the legal practice, not according to the legal statute,” Davis said. “I’m basing the stance on what I’ve been told by legal counsel.”
Davis stressed that his actions at the meeting had nothing to do with Windham being appointed council clerk. “I have already designated Catherine Windham as Clerk of Council,” he said.
Fish disagrees with the supervisor’s stance and called Davis’ antics a matter of wanting to exert control over council.
“It is his attempt to take over council,” he said. “He no longer has the votes in council so this is his way of trying to maintain control over council where he no longer has it.”
Fish added that council was in compliance with the Home Rule Act. “It is the responsibility of council to appoint the clerk of council and all her duties,” he said. “It made sense to make it official, and that’s all I was trying to do.
“(Windham has) been in the position as acting council clerk for nearly two years now and I want to make her appointment to clerk of council official.”
Windham was appointing Interim Clerk of Council in July 2011.
The difference of opinion sparked a debate when Davis informed Fish that his resolution to appoint Windham was not on the council agenda. Davis said it had been submitted too late on Friday to be added.
Fish called Supervisor Davis’ tactics “a slap in the face to her and to us.”
“I was appalled with the way this was handled,” he said. “It’s embarrassing for her and her family. What an embarrassment. I am embarrassed at the way we behaved as a council in this regard.”
After Davis tabled the appointment until the April meeting of county council, Fish vehemently objected insisting his appointment be read into the record.
Davis refused, saying additional study was necessary in regard to Windham’s appointment.
Fish said it was a shame.
“She’s been shafted in all this, and you can quote me on that,” he said. “And the sad part about this is she had nothing to do with this. She’s an innocent party.”
Dan Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.