T'town Prepares for Lawsuit
The N.C. League of Municipalities is making attorneys available for Taylortown to prepare for an expected lawsuit by former Police Chief Timothy Blakeley, who was fired last March.
Those attorneys were leaving just as the Town Council's meeting was about to begin Tuesday night. Town Clerk Carolyn Mitchell said the legal assistance is being provided under the town's insurance coverage with the league.
Town Councilman Ellis Ray still wants to fire the town attorney, but he held off on a motion to do that to give Mitchell and others on the council time to find local attorneys.
Ray thinks William Morgan Jr., of the Brough Law Firm in Asheville, is too expensive. Travel time adds to the cost.
Mitchell pointed out that the town should not be without an attorney while looking for another one.
For the most part, the Taylortown Council meeting was calm rather than contentious.
Council members who had previously been at odds over various town issues made and seconded motions for each other.
There was no move to call a revote for the election of a mayor, which Councilman Jeffery Moody proposed at the January meeting. Instead, former Mayor Ulysses Simpson Grant Barrett Jr. supported former opponents and seconded their motions.
The council had elected Jesse Fuller to serve as mayor at its November meeting, with the vote splitting 3 to 2 between rival factions. Under the present town charter, any council member may be elected mayor, and the council can move the position at will. Barrett could be elected mayor at any meeting, as could any council member.
Fuller said he was rescinding his previous appointment of Ellis Ray as mayor pro tem, because he had learned in a League of Municipalities class that the position is, like that of mayor, elected by the council. In effect, since his appointment had been improper, the town had lacked a mayor pro tem.
Mitchell started to prepare for a secret ballot (as is done when electing a mayor) but Barrett said this did not require it.
Both Ray and Charlotte Worthy, the newest members of the council, were nominated. Worthy voted for her opponent, making it a 3-2 in favor of Ray. Worthy said she didn't think she had sufficient experience.
At first, Fuller didn't notice Ray lifting his hand to vote for himself and thought it was a tie that would mean bringing a new vote. Ray said he had voted, and the matter was settled.
Even during the public-comment period, there was little of the rancor that has characterized other meetings.
One man wanted to know why there was so much press coverage of little Taylortown, contending it had been unfairly negative. But other comments all seemed to look to the future, addressing concerns about sidewalks, the entrance, and whether Taylor-town will see a return of clubs.
That won't happen, Ray said. Town ordinances no longer permit downtown clubs -- a source of problems in the past. One former club is being remodeled as a storage facility, and the owners came in to obtain the proper permits.
A question about police cars parked in residential areas brought a quick promise from the chief to move them any time a resident asked. They should be seen as protection, he said.
The council passed a motion to amend the budget to add a full-time police officer at the request of Chief Damon Williams. Ray made the motion, which Barrett seconded, and it passed unanimously.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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