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Robbery in broad daylight

An Editorial by Susan Reeves

The citizens of Mount Vernon have been robbed. The amount taken is approximately $100,000. Those who witnessed the mugging were momentarily stunned and speechless. Then, outrage and shock swept through the audience after hearing the statement read at the end of the special executive city council session on Friday, May 20. Members of the Mount Vernon City Council accepted City Administrator Lee Elliott’s voluntary resignation, but the shock came when they gave him a 12 month severance package in return.
Mayor J. D. Baumgardner and outgoing councilpersons Nathan Reves and Libby Milton voted for the package. Jasper Scott and B. F. Hicks, continuing on the council with another year left on their terms, abstained from the vote. Outgoing councilwoman Darlene Hatcher was absent from the proceedings due to illness.
Mr. Elliott tendered his resignation citing “philosophical differences with the newly elected council” as his reason for quitting.
“How does he know what the new council’s philosophy is when he has never had a conversation with any of us?” Kenneth Shelton, Saundra Dunn and Jeff Briscoe, the three newly elected council members, asked after the announcement.
Calling a meeting of the old city council after the election was an insult to the voters of Mount Vernon. It was perfectly legal, but was it morally correct? (It kind of brings back memories of the shenanigans with the Economic Development board a few months back.) The election votes had not been canvassed, the new council members had not been sworn in, nor had the new council been seated. The old council still had their power, and they used it to Mr. Elliott’s advantage.
After the meeting, Councilman Reves handed out a prepared list of all the good deeds Mr. Elliott has accomplished during his tenure. Many positive things have been enacted during the past four years, but Mr. Elliott has rubbed many business owners and citizens the wrong way with his less than hospitable attitude in making them happen. The council felt he had done a good job as City Administrator and deserved this compensation. He already got his compensation. It’s called a paycheck for the past four years.
Mr. Elliott’s original contract signed in 2007 called for a 12 month severance package if he was terminated by the council or asked to involuntarily resign by the council. Mr. Elliott’s termination package was increased in September 2010 to include a 15 month compensation and “provide for more guarantees against ‘political’ involuntary termination compensation.”
Mr. Elliott was not terminated involuntarily. He resigned to avoid dealing with new council members who may or may not be antagonistic. None of the three made any public campaign promises about getting Mr. Elliott fired from his position. They did campaign to “fight” for the citizens.
In most businesses, when an employee quits, he forfeits any severance package, including accrued sick days. Mr. Elliott will be walking away with a promise of bi-weekly salary payments for a total of $89,502 over the next twelve months. The city will pay his $416 per month health insurance premium for 12 months or until he secures another position with paid benefits. He will also continue to accrue vacation and sick time during this 12 month period and be paid for all that is accrued. This from a council who has bemoaned the lack of funds to do needed repairs
Where is this money coming from? Will we have to wait until this is paid out to afford to hire another administrator?
Oh wait, the council lowered the city’s tax rate by moving costs into fees, so there is room to raise the rate to cover their generosity.


#1 RE: Robbery in broad daylightAnonymous 2011-05-27 08:49
Job well done, Susan! Great article. I'm wondering why members of a council would not vote on something brought before them. Either you agree with something or you don't, right?
I feel sure the new members of the council will have the citizens of Mt. Vernon as a priority. It looks like they definitely have their work cut out for them.
#2 RE: Robbery in broad daylightJames Hamrick 2011-05-27 16:17
ethics eth·ics (ěth'ĭks)
The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the conduct of the members of a profession

Character refers particularly to the combination of outer and inner characteristics that determine the impression that a person makes upon others.
#3 CitizenOscar Elliott 2011-05-27 22:06
RE; Robbery in broad daylight- Another good, and I believe, accurate editorial. I wish the three new council members the best of luck in their efforts, they are going to need it. I urge them to get out and about to keep informed and seek the opinions of the citizens of Mt. Vernon of anticipated plans/ projects/ideas/ pending ordinances, etc. prior to adopting them. Just asking a few random folks (and not just the ones they knew would agree with them) about some of the prior council's plans might have avoided embarrassment for the city and it's citizens a lot of money.
#4 RE: Robbery in broad daylightconcerned citizen 2011-05-28 07:23
just think of how many pot-holes could be filled with all that money......why in the heck would the council do that to MV???
#5 billy raymike 2011-05-28 10:29
Susan- you have to dislike the mayor, 3-council members and the city manager are gone, you have nothing to write about now. Maybe you will spend your time looking into, and opining about the county government not adopting balanced budgets and the good ole boy things they do. The 3-new council members did openly campaign to fire Mr. Elliott- he was the only one mentioned in their articles and ads. Ask them how they will reduce fees and taxes and do the street repairs? Ask them how they will pay for water and sewer needs? Ask Mrs. Dunn and Jeff Briscoe if there is any relationship, or employment issues with the oil law suit they want to drop? Look into the good citizens hiding behind corporations and people who don't live in Franklin County suing the city- Mr/Mrs Charles Lowry, Mike Edwards, Tom Ramsey. The Sears want to lower or end the fees, because they want you to subsidize them with taxes. Ken Greer wants to micromanage economic development and keep the $ in his bank, unless an applicant banks w/him. Do a broader and more balanced job, and your paper might survive-you don't have the exes to blame and attack any more, your yellow press is over-lol!
#6 RE: Robbery in broad daylightJames Hamrick 2011-05-28 12:35
#5 billy Ray -- Mike , from now on sign your whole name First and Last, don't hide behind the computer screen. You called out alot of good people, let them know who you are , fair is fair. Thanks and have a good day.
#7 gee, i am scaredmike 2011-05-29 12:56
I am scared Mr. Hambrick....... .. The truth hurts-wake up people of MV, the reason the recent council did what they did is because of the people listed who have, and will continue to take advantage of your community. You voted 75% for it, so enjoy it, because the bury your head in the sand is no longer an option-the community is falling apart-look at your housing, your infrastructure- why is it in bad shape, ask yourself, it didn't just happen the last 4-5 years, this last council tried to fix and change things.
#8 RE: Robbery in broad daylightJames Hamrick 2011-05-30 08:39
Hey Mike have some pride and dont hide, sign your name maybe get some respect. The old city council was voted out , its called democracy. There is only about 3 reasons you will not post your name, prove me wrong and step up, ther's no need to be scared. thanks and have a great day.
#9 oilJim Taggart 2011-05-31 14:12
unitize the entire city of mt vernon for oil exploration. an oil recovered can go to the city for use of city projects. drill site can be someplace other than the city proper and drill a slant hole.. a good driller and a whipscocket can drill a hole that looks like a corkscrew.
#10 RE: Robbery in broad daylightAppalled 2011-06-21 13:44
What I find amusing here JAMES HAMRICK, is that you are actually on here denying that the true reason these 3 ppl ran for city council was to let Lee Elliot go once they had all been elected. Really? You sure you want to keep that stance? Because we all know that is a bald face lie. They never hid that fact and it was talked about around town quite regularly how they felt about him and the policies he pursued. Not that I agree with all of them, but if you want to come on here and demand the truth, then maybe you should start by telling it yourself.
#11 James HamrickJames Hamrick 2011-07-12 10:25
Man Up Appalled, sign your name to your thoughts, but i know you will not, I would have got back to a little sooner Appalled, but i do work for a living.
#12 RE: Robbery in broad daylightKay 2011-07-19 21:12
Why are we having to read about TINA ROSES 10% raise in the Mount Pleasant Tribune and not in our own paper? Or was this something you chose to support and therefore saw no need in making it any more public than deemed necessary? One more subscription lost.
#13 RE: Robbery in broad daylightsilliness 2011-07-20 10:46
Come on guys. The election is over now let's move on and act adultlike. There are issues to address and problems to solve.... Yes, this is a democracy and the three won because they had the votes and the others did not. It doesn't matter whether or not they liked the city manager....peop le are allowed to think what they choose. 'Mike' , you cannot say untruths about others because it is not only slanderous but it is unfounded. I heard that you are an AKA for Lee Elliott;....oh but nevermind, that, too, would be unfounded. and Adult
#14 RE: Robbery in broad daylightAnonymous2 2011-08-25 22:05
With all the repairs needed in the city, or the families that are struggling due to our current economy.. we gave pay to someone that is no longer working for the city. Why is a package required to be given? Why not have taken that money and instead put it towards several families in the community that would have benefited and appreciated the help. The city pool, the roads, the food pantry. Giving it to someone who took advantage of the title and made amendments to the original agreement does not deserve to be paid. To say the least I am shocked to know that we are paying for it, and the health insurance, really? With that kind of income, why can't he pay for his own health insurance?