Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
COLUMN: Mayor's Mistake Cost Taxpayers

by Councilman Scott Caserta

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the "opinion" of Councilman Caserta, who under the First Amendment of the US and WV Constitutions has the right to express his perspective. It includes a timeline for events that followed his questioning of an alleged "mistake" by Mayor Steve Williams. Caserta sought an opinion outside of the city itself. HNN takes no position, except to restate a policy that allows a free flow of information and discussion of differing opinions.

On Thursday's [Herald Dispatch] Opinion page my brother, Mark Caserta who is a regular contributor to the HD decided to "weigh in" on my allegations against Mayor Steve Williams.  I have heard many comments regarding this article, many having to do with a bus and me inspecting the undercarriage.  My brother's article caused me to pause a moment and wonder, if "he" doesn't get it, do you? Well, let's leave no doubt.

Mark wrote, "I believe everyone involved made their fair share of mistakes".  I beg to disagree. The only person who made a mistake was Mayor Steve Williams when he decided to gift tax payer dollars to the Police Chief when he left the city to take a much higher paying position elsewhere.

COLUMN: Mayor's Mistake Cost Taxpayers

My brother went on to state I should have worked my way through the channels starting with the Mayor, "an initial meeting with the Mayor seeking his thought process behind the payout would have been wise". This is a statement from "outside" the halls of democracy.  

Let me be clear, I did not meet with the Mayor because the law was clear. I did not want to set myself up for the appearance of deal-making and accusations of threats. Never meet with a politician alone, ever. 

I suppose I could have, as suggested in Mark Caserta's article, approached the members of City Council with this allegation of embezzlement. So why did I choose not to? 

I'm not sure if Mark is aware of the "inner-circle" workings of government. It has become obvious some members of council would follow the Mayor to the ends of the earth, without question or regard to their constituents. 

City Council would have called an executive session to discuss the allegations. Mayor Williams would have stated, as he has publicly, "I felt he earned it so I made the decision to pay him".  I know the members well enough to know the outcome would have been the end of my inquisition. Or at least as Chairman of Council.

Let's review some time lines of events.

COLUMN: Mayor's Mistake Cost Taxpayers

Monday May 18th - I filed my complaint against Mayor Williams with the Prosecuting Attorney's office.

Tuesday May 19th - at 9:30 am. I received a request from Councilman Ball for a Special Call meeting to go into Executive Session for my removal as Chairman. Mayor Williams called a news conference to dispel my allegations.

Wednesday May 20th Prosecuting Attorney opens my complaint to read it for the first time. Later in the day I spent almost 2 hours being ridiculed by council members before they oust me as their Chairman.

Did you notice a problem with that timeline?

The support for the Mayor by members of council was overwhelming, and the investigation had not even begun.  I was informed early that day, the Mayor's office went as far as contacting the City union leadership to demand their membership be at city hall to show support for the Mayor and my removal.

My brother, Mark Caserta, finishes his article by stating, "We need Mayor Williams and Councilman Caserta on the same team". Let me remind you brother, teams have rules. 

Here's the law the Mayor ignored when he decided to give Skip Holbrook almost $34,000  in tax payer's money:

"According to Article 200, both new and old, if someone (1) retires at the age of 60 years or older, (2) separates with 20 years of service, OR (3) separates on disability retirement, that person may be paid in lump sum fashion for up to 140 days of sick time."  

"This proviso shall be no way interpreted to mean that an employee is entitled to payment.."

“The Mayor may make regulations to carry out intent of this article 200 and 201 and help in the proper administration of the ordinance."

COLUMN: Mayor's Mistake Cost Taxpayers

Mr Holbrook met none of those requirements. It's obvious this law was not administered nor its intent carried out! I'm not on the Mayor's team, and I hope I've made that abundantly clear.