First Posted: 1/15/2009
MAXTON - Robert M. Henderson says the town Board of Commissioners broke the law last month when it voted to replace him on the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport Commission.
The minutes of the meeting show that state statutes were broken, but not as alleged by Henderson.
Henderson brought the issue up Tuesday during the public comment portion of the town board meeting. He said he was concerned that Commissioner Geraldine McLaurin had abstained from voting on a motion to return him to the airport commission. Henderson said that resulted in Mayor Lille McKoy breaking a 2 to 2 tie by casting a vote not to re-appoint him.
“The law says that a commissioner who is bodily at a meeting cannot abstain,” Henderson said. “She has to vote and if she doesn’t her vote will be counted as an affirmative vote.”
State statues say “no member shall be excused from voting except upon matters involving … the member’s own financial interest or official conduct.” In all other cases, a member has to be excused from voting by a majority vote if they are present at the meeting, according to state statues.
Maxton officials say while Henderson is correct about how the vote should be conducted, he is wrong on facts of the June 12 meeting.
The minutes show that Commissioners Ray Oxendine and Patsy Hamer voted to re-appoint Henderson to the airport commission, while Commissioners Gladys Dean, Geraldine McLaurin and Sallie McLean voted against.
In was in a subsequent vote to appoint Albert Morris to replace Henderson that McLaurin chose to abstain from voting. Dean and McLean voted for the Morris appointment, while Oxendine and Hamer were opposed.
“McKoy declared a tie vote on the floor and voted to appoint Morris to the LMAC board,” according to the minutes.
McLaurin had wanted to appoint George Zeigler Jr. to the airport board
Henderson said he listened to the tape of the meeting but it wasn’t very clear.
Town Manager Katrina Tatum differs with Henderson on that point.
“We listened to the tape. It is perfectly clear to us,” she said.
After Henderson read his letter, the board didn’t respond to his claims.
“They were told by the attorney not to,” Tatum said. “I wasn’t in the room when he told them, but I would have told them the same thing. Nobody here is lying like he says. We have nothing to hide.”