Morehead City, N.C.
July 26, 2022
TO THE EDITOR:
This letter is to reply to the several people who are alleging some sort of cover up in the city manager’s dismissal and the departure of the new police chief. A common thread is a perceived lack of transparency in these matters by the commissioners, who by a majority vote of 3 to 2 dismissed the city manager, and then a few days later the newly hired police chief resigned.
The city manager’s contract was terminated “without cause,” which allowed him to receive all the benefits due according to his contract and then seek new employment elsewhere without airing publicly all the reasons for his termination.
Mr. Eggleston was indeed a strong city manager and presided over what amounted to a dismissal of the previous committee system in favor of the manager making pretty much all of the decisions without input from the standing committees. If a citizen wanted help with any problem, instead of going to a council member (commissioner) that citizen had to go to the manger. In my humble opinion, that amounted to “one person rule.” In that respect I agree with Vernon Hill completely.
Having said that, I have had several interactions with Mr. Eggleston and found him to be very knowledgeable, well informed, and cooperative. He was easy to talk to and understood my problems as well as offering solutions. I just did not like having to go to that one individual for anything involving the town. I do not believe that is how a town of about 8,000 people should operate.
I also find myself agreeing with Vernon Hill about filling vacancies in all departments. We should look within each department for individuals with experience and qualifications before we spend big bucks looking at individuals all over the country. In the case of the police chief, we ended up with an individual who had NO experience as a police chief before being hired to run our department and little experience in this part of North Carolina. In my mind we would have been far better served by promoting from within the Morehead City police force. That is where we should look now.
So far as Mr. Wilson’s comments, I see no reason to insult the council majority by calling them “Three Musketeers.” Would he use the same sort of name calling if the vote had been 4 to 1 or 5 to 0?
Mr. Wilson stated several times that Mr. Eggleston “refused to do the request of the commissioners to fire the police chief but instead did what HE considered best for the town and its citizens.” Last I heard, the town board sets policy and the manager is required to carry out that policy. In my mind that includes dismissing ANY department head the commissioners find to be incompetent or undesirable.
Because the Municipal Code requires the council to work with and through the manager DOES NOT mean the city manager is in charge of every aspect of city government by himself and does NOT have to answer to the commissioners. It simply means that town department heads and the employees should have a single boss to answer to and NOT every member of the town board AND the city manager. That simple.
Maybe we need to change the municipal code to clarify just exactly how the system should work in words that everyone can understand? How about words to the effect that the relationship should be that the city manager is required to carry out the policies set by the town board in cooperation with that board and the board is required to then work with and through the manager without bypassing him in dealing with department heads or employees. In no case should the city manager’s authority equal or exceed that of the town board.
It is apparent to me that very little would be accomplished by airing all of the details of the city manager’s dismissal and the police chief’s resignation either here or anywhere else. We need to instead get on with replacing the manager with someone appropriate, and looking inside the police department to fill the chief’s job with someone with an outstanding record and who knows the town and area.
We also need to codify just how the committee system should work and how the relationship between the town board and the city manager should work.
If the individuals currently sitting on the board are too lazy or too busy to attend the necessary committees, then maybe we need to increase the board to seven members instead of five and thereby get a broader representation of the people who live here and who are willing to do the necessary work. From what I understand it IS work and needs to be done well by individuals who are called to do it and thereby serve all of the people who live and work here.
Sorry for the length of this letter, but it is a complicated matter and takes more than a few words to cover.