080130 001Conversation between Statesboro Herald reporter Phil Boyum and City Councilman Gary Lewis.
Gary Lewis transcript
The following is the transcript of the phone conversation Wednesday afternoon between Statesboro Herald reporter Phil Boyum and City Council Member Gary Lewis:
Boyum: “Care to comment at all about reasons why you fired the city manager?”
Lewis: “Nah, he knows why”
Boyum: “Yeah, but who cares if he knows why, it’s the people of Statesboro that want to know why.”
Lewis: “Well, a lot of them know too, and a lot of them don’t, but I’m not going to make a comment on that right now.”
Boyum: “Well, when are you going to make a comment?”
Lewis: “I don’t know. I’ll let you know when I get ready.”
Boyum: “Well, now, when I talked to you on Monday, Gary, you said that when we…that after the vote was taken you would tell me what the problem was with the city manager.
“You just asked the city manager to resign, you just cost the city an extra $150,000. You don’t think the constituents – the citizens of Statesboro – deserve to know why you wrote a check for $150,000?
Lewis: “Not really.”
Boyum: “Not really?”
Lewis: “What I told you the other day was that, uh, you asked me in the office about that thing we talked about, when I came to get those checks, I told you, ‘No comment’
Boyum: “uh huh”
Lewis: “Then I said goodbye
Lewis: “And I stick by that right now. I’m not ready to talk about it until I get ready to talk.”
Boyum: “So, you don’t feel the citizens of Statesboro need to know why you voted to terminate Shane Haynes and why you wrote him a $150,000.”
Lewis: “I’ll make a statement later on, OK?”
Boyum: “All right. When is later on? I mean, Gary, this thing is timely. No one wants to hear you make comment on the firing of the city manager in a month from now. They want to know now.”
Lewis: “I’ll make a statement later on.”
Boyum: “What’s that?”
Lewis: “I’ll make a statement later on.”
Boyum: “All right. You want me to call you after work?”
Lewis: “No, sir. You don’t have to do that. I’ll call you.”
A day after the Statesboro City Council voted to request City Manager Shane Haynes resign, Councilman Gary Lewis said Wednesday Statesboro residents did "not really" need to know why the council asked Haynes to step down.
During a brief conversation, Lewis was asked, "You just asked the city manager to resign, you just cost the city an extra $150,000. You don't think the constituents - the citizens of Statesboro - deserve to know why you wrote a check for $150,000?
Lewis replied: "Not really."
Lewis added that he would issue a statement "later on" but would not elaborate further.
During a nearly three-hour executive session Tuesday evening, council members voted 4-1 to request a letter of resignation from Haynes, who was not present. Officially, the details of the separation agreement between Haynes and the city won't be made public until both parties have signed the document. However, the settlement could be larger than stipulated in Haynes' employment agreement with the city.
According to Haynes' contract, which became effective when he took office July 1, 2008, he is entitled to a lump sum payment equal to eight months aggregate salary and continued benefit coverage for six months. Taking his annual salary and benefits package into consideration, the city would owe Haynes approximately $85,000. However, taking into account an $115,000 annual city manager's salary, $6,552 in annual medical costs and other benefits, a full year's severance with benefits would cost the city more than $120,000.
Councilman John Riggs did not return phone calls Wednesday, but instead sent a statement about Haynes by email that did not address his reasons for asking for Haynes' resignation.
"While it's unfortunate having to ask for anyone's resignation, I felt this was in the best interest for the city and my constituents," Riggs said. "I wish Shane all the best in his future endeavors. Now it's time to move forward and do what is right for the City of Statesboro, and its citizens and taxpayers."
At Tuesday's council meeting, Mayor Joe Brannen expressed his support of Haynes, while the only councilman not to request Haynes' resignation, Travis Chance, said he did not believe Statesboro residents were well served by the move. Councilman Will Britt, who has frequently expressed his support for the city manager, said he voted for resignation to ensure that Haynes received the resignation terms for which he asked.
After the resignation vote Tuesday, the council unanimously voted to approach local developer and former city councilman Frank Parker about filling in as interim city manager while the city performs a nationwide search. The city will not be free to offer Parker an interim contract until the separation agreement between Haynes and the city is signed by both parties.
Councilman Tommy Blitch did return a call, but was unable to be reached for comment.