Are you keeping your New Year's resolutions?|
Story Archives: Mayor regrets move to replace Singer, Welch
|Mayor regrets move to replace Singer, Welch|
Winnsboro Mayor Jackie Johnson said it was a mistake to try to replace two longtime city employees during his first city council meeting as mayor and he is happy the council didn't approve his hiring recommendations.
"On hindsight on the entire issue, I'm really glad that the council made the decision they made. I am human and I make mistakes," said Johnson, "I regret that to the utmost. Will I make more mistakes? Yes, because I am only human. I am having to learn from my mistake and I am facing up to it."
Johnson said Friday that he will keep to his campaign promise that city workers' jobs would be secure in his administration.
Johnson recommended that the council replace city attorney Tab Singer and fire chief Truman Welch and hire Carol Lexing, an attorney from Monroe, to be the city's legal counsel and Sykes Hamilton, a firefighter from Alaska, to be fire chief, at the council's July 19 regular meeting.
The two were not hired, however, when no councilman offered a motion to approve Johnson's recommendations.
Despite not being approved as fire chief, Hamilton reported to the Winnsboro Fire Department the next morning dressed as chief ready to go to work, said Winnsboro Councilman John "Sonny" Dumas, who visited the fire department Tuesday to straighten out the matter.
"Sykes came in with the uniform of a fire chief and was basically considering himself as fire chief. I told him of the procedure and he said the mayor had told him to come in," Dumas said.
Johnson said the matter was a misunderstanding and Hamilton has been retained by the city as a firefighter.
Johnson said he has known Hamilton for about five years through church activities, but that he never saw a resume that would qualify him to replace Welch, a 40-year veteran of the fire department who has been chief since 1991.
Johnson said he knew that Hamilton was qualified by "word of mouth."
Hamilton said he did show a resume to most of the city council outlining his experience as fire captain of the Anchorage Fire Department in Alaska.
A copy of the resume received from councilmen shows that Hamilton worked for the fire department from 1969 to 2002. No certifications, contact telephone numbers or references are listed on the resume.
"There was nothing there to hang your hat on," Dumas said.
A call from Franklin Sun reporters to the Anchorage Fire Department confirmed that Hamilton started working for the department in 1968 as a firefighter, was named captain in 1969 and retired from the department in 2001.
While councilmen say they were uneasy about the abridged resume that Hamilton presented them, they worried that the city might not be able to afford Lexing as city attorney.
Lexing asked for a monthly retainer of $3,500 to $4,500 plus $150 per hour to work as city attorney, according to council members.
City officials said Singer, who has been Winnsboro's legal council for 33 years, doesn't receive a retainer to serve as city attorney, but the city pays for his heath insurance at a cost of about $920 per-month. Singer charges the city $200 per-hour to work on legal matters, according to officials.
"We can't afford (Lexing). I can understand that she might can learn the city, but Tab has been our attorney for a long time," said Councilman Richard Mahoney.