First Posted: 1/15/2009
Severance OK'd for McDuffie
ST. PAULS - The town Board of Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a one-month severance package for Kerry McDuffie, who was fired as town administrator last week.
The board decided to advertise the position for 60 days and to contact Joe Loflin about filling the position on an interim basis. Loflin served for more than 20 years as town administrator before retiring in early 2002. He was replaced by McDuffie in March 2002.
Loflin told Mayor Gordon Westbrook that he needed time to think about the interim position and would let the town know by Friday. But Westbrook said he was “90 percent sure” that Loflin would return.
McDuffie, who was not at Wednesday's meeting, said this morning that he had not been formally notified about the severance package. He said that there may be conditions that he would have to agree to.
“I've heard that I'd have to sign some (waver) saying I won't come back and sue the town,” McDuffie said.
Westbrook said he wasn't aware of any specific conditions, and that the town's attorney, Neil Yarborough, was handling the severance package.
Yarborough could not be reached this morning.
Just before Wednesday's meeting ended, Commissioner Samuel McAllister expressed his displeasure with the way McDuffie was fired last Thursday.
Commissioners DeWitt Rountree, Sandra Cain, McClure Terry Jr. and Jerry Jackson voted to fire McDuffie. Jackson joined the board that evening.
Commissioners Doris Sutton and McAllister voted against the motion.
McAllister told the board that he thought his fellow commissioners had blind-sided him. He was unhappy that not all the commissioners knew the matter was going to be brought up that night.
“There were a number of people on the board that knew it was going to happen, and to be blind-sided like that, it just does something to my heart,” McAllister said after the meeting. “It's not what was done, but the way it was done that bothers me … .”
“When we come together as a board, respect should be there, and each board member should at least be aware of the nature of the problem,” McAllister said. “Whatever problem comes in front of the board, it should be discussed.”
McAllister, who works with elderly people at the St. Pauls nutrition site, said there may be repercussions because of the way McDuffie was fired. There are many residents who are upset with the way McDuffie was terminated, he said.
“One lady asked me today how can we get rid of those who did it,” McAllister said.
McAllister also voiced his displeasure at why the commissioners who fired McDuffie never explained their decision.
“Anything that we have to vote on, I think we should all have knowledge of what we're voting on and why we're voting on it,” he said.
Westbrook agreed with McAllister, but said it's time for the town of St. Pauls to move on.
“I think it's unethical, even though it's legal the way they fired him,” Westbrook said. “It's my opinion everybody should be given a reason why they're being terminated.
“But what I'd like to do is get this behind us and move along with the town business.”