Criticism of Board Was Unduly Harsh
The Pilot editorial board was unduly harsh in its criticism of the Robbins Board of Commissioners (Jan. 18), calling its decision to remove the town manager “underhanded,” citing North Carolina’s open meeting law as forbidding “public bodies from making decisions in private.”
A reading of the N.C. statute governing public bodies leads one to a different conclusion altogether. Specifically, closed meetings are permitted to “consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee; or to hear or investigate a complaint, charge, or grievance by or against an individual public officer or employee.”
Public employees — be they janitors, teachers or town managers — should be entitled to and expect a private airing of their fitness for selection or removal. They were not elected by, nor are they directly accountable to, the public.
Robbins’ Board of Commissioners were following the letter and spirit of the legislation in this case. They consulted among themselves and made an offer to the town manager. They should be held accountable by the voters for the correctness of their decision, but do not deserve to be castigated for the means by which the decision was made.
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