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City council votes no confidence in city manager
Members say they voted no against motion, not city manager
Gary Lewisweb
Gary Lewis
     Confusion at last week’s Statesboro City Council meeting over a failed motion resulted in an unintended vote of “no confidence” for City Manager Shane Haynes.
     During other business, Councilman Will Britt offered a motion supporting Haynes after he said he had heard rumors suggesting Haynes may not have the full backing of council.
    “I brought it up because I had heard some rumblings around town that the mayor and council were not behind Shane,” Britt said. “I wanted the entire council, publicly, to give a vote of confidence for Shane, saying ‘This is our guy.’”
    Following a brief discussion, the motion failed 3-2, with council members Tommy Blitch, Joe Brannen and Gary Lewis voting against supporting Haynes, while Britt and Travis Chance voted for the motion.
    Intended or not, the failed motion amounted to a vote of no confidence for Haynes in the city’s official record. 
    But on Monday, the three members who voted no said they were voting against the idea that the city manager needed a vote of confidence in the first place and not necessarily voting against Haynes nor commenting on his job performance to this point. 
    Lewis said he’s not about to give anyone a "blank check" nor back them "100 percent," however, he had not heard any rumblings about Haynes’ job performance.
    “Nobody said Shane was doing a bad job. Where did Will get that? He said people called him, but I’m like Joe Brannen - nobody called me,” Lewis said. “I voted no because I felt like it was the improper time to do that. That’s not what the city council meeting was all about.”
    Haynes, who was out of town visiting his sick father and was not at the meeting, said he was unclear how this affected his employment status with the city, if at all. He said despite some challenges, he believes he is working well with the mayor and all the members of council.
    “I’m just trying to do the best I can every day,” Haynes said. “We’re trying to change the culture in a positive way, internally and administratively,  as well as how we deal with our citizenry and our business people, while becoming more focused and attuned to customer service issues.”
    Haynes said he’s not singling anyone out, but recognizes he and his staff have room to improve in terms of their viewpoint towards their responsibilities to the general public.
    “We’re here to serve. We’ve got good people – I want to be very clear about that,” Haynes said. “We have very good, hard-working, dedicated staff members, but we are still working to cultivate a culture of team and commitment - and that takes time.”
    Councilman Blitch was hesitant to discuss the reasoning behind his vote.
    “That’s personnel and I really don’t want to comment on that,” Blitch said. “I’ve always voted what I thought was best and what I honestly thought was best at the time. I voted with my convictions.”
    Chance said it was an appropriate time for the vote, since he said it appears to many in the community that the council is a house divided.
    “Council member Britt and I both felt that it was imperative that we give our city manager, who we believe and say we have the utmost faith in his decisions, our confidence,” Chance said. “Why would it not be a good idea to encourage and to make public that we stand behind and support the city manager we have hired to handle the day-to-day and personnel decisions? Why would it not be a good idea to show public support for that person?”
    Mayor Bill Hatcher didn’t comment during the meeting’s discussion leading up to the vote. He said he views the result more as a vote against the motion than a vote against Haynes.
    “That was the way I read it, yes,” Hatcher said. “I think Shane has done a good job.”
    Brannen confirmed the mayor’s analysis.
    “It has not come to me that Shane required a vote of confidence from the council members,” Brannen said. “I have not had any complaints where the public feels like Shane is having problems and needs a vote of confidence in order to fulfill his regular jobs duties.
    “It was a vote against the motion not against him.”

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