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With many Statesboro residents frustrated by the lack of answers and accountability surrounding the city council's recent decision to release City Manager Shane Haynes, Councilman Travis Chance came on Tuesday's "Mornings unPHILtered" program.
Specifically, many are unhappy with the rumored terms of a "golden parachute" he may receive to separate with the city.
Chance, the only council member who voted against asking for Haynes' resignation, is upset with both the way Haynes' departure is being handled and the amount of money he is to be paid to leave. He discussed his efforts to get all of the details of the payoff negotiations made public.
Show host Phil Boyum started by telling listeners that it is unlikely the citizens of Statesboro will ever know the truth behind the Haynes' resignation or why the city council voted to give the city manager a larger payout that his contract with the city stipulates. Boyum said some council members, citing personnel issues, have refused to talk about asking for Haynes' resignation and that they all will refuse to talk about Haynes' settlement agreement once it is signed because it will likely contain a non-disclosure agreement - not unlike the agreements with former clerk Judy McCorkle, or former police chief Stan York.
Chance said he doesn't blame the city manager for asking for the terms he did, because he believes that Haynes' hasn't been treated fairly since becoming the city manager. Chance said he still has not been given a single valid reason by another councilman as to why they asked for Haynes' resignation.
"If three members are dead set on removing this man, then you're not really arguing anymore what the outcome is going to be," Chance said. "Then the conversation ensued about how to separate and have it where the city is not exposed and the council can actually treat the man with some respect."
Councilman Chance said that he realizes some of the recent moves made by the city manager, with support of council, could have been handled differently, but added that while he might change the method, he would not change the end result.
He also stated that Haynes was handed a city with a million dollar budget shortfall to work out and that the city manager - with the blessing of council every step of the way - did his best to balance the budget in an environment of falling revenues.
Chance said Haynes was never reprimanded for any of his public or private behavior, nor had he ever acted in a less-than-professional manner. He reiterated that Haynes never took any action without the council's approval.
Regarding the special meeting on Aug. 23 called by council members Gary Lewis, Tommy Blitch and John Riggs to discuss a personnel matter, Chance said he was not informed of the meeting until the close of business on Friday. He said the lack of notification or consideration made it too late to cancel his business meeting that conflicted.
"I was never consulted about that meeting and I want to make that clear," Chance said. "I read a comment somewhere that said, ‘If you don't have the time to do it, then you shouldn't be up there.' Well, I agree. But if I'm not privy to a meeting and I don't get notification of it until after 5 o'clock on Friday I can't very well be expected to drop what I'm doing with my business and be at a meeting at 9 o'clock on Monday."
Boyum stated that the Statesboro's residents deserve a reason for the council asking for Haynes' resignation and that the council should not be writing checks for more than $150,000 without explaining their actions.
Chance agreed and said that Statesboro citizens deserve to know the full story, but said he's even having a hard time getting definitive answers about the votes made by fellow councilmen. Chance agreed that he right now is definitely in the minority on the council but said he won't agree to do what he feels he is wrong.
"It is entirely unfair that the citizens were not given any reason, they were not given any opportunity to ask questions - it was done, it was over with and then...once the agreement is finalized, there will be no discussion because we can't," Chance said.
Chance reminded show host Boyum that several months ago he had told him that if Haynes was let go it was because the rest of council didn't want to be held accountable for the decisions that they had made.
Now that Haynes has been asked to resign by a 4-1 vote of the council, Chance stated for the record that he stands by his earlier assertion: the Statesboro City Council simply doesn't want to be blamed for what has been going on.
"I want the council and the government to be run with common sense," Chance said. "I don't want there to be any behind closed doors meetings, because I promise you I have not and will not be a part of them.
"I know that sometimes I walk into council and I feel like decisions have already been made and, you know what, that's unfortunate."
"Mornings unPHILtered" airs live Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on statesboroherald.com and also simulcast on WWNS-AM 1240 on the radio. You also can listen anytime at BoroLive.com on statesboroherald.com