- Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 11:37
- Published on Friday, 04 April 2014 11:37
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Colonial Beach Town Council spilled the beans about Town employee Theresa Davis’ charge of trespassing, filed against her by a citizen of the town, during a reconvened work session on Thursday, March 28.
The council’s business at hand was to decide whether or not to fund the attorney’s fees for Davis’ defense. However, several members took it upon themselves to publicly state their opinions and hearsay about the case in open forum.
The meeting also led to some heated exchanges between Council members Linda Brubaker and Tommy Edwards. Councilwoman Brubaker also accused Mayor Mike Ham of sexual discrimination, with Councilwoman Wanda Goforth agreeing with Brubaker.
The resolution before the council stated that Theresa Davis, Code Compliance Officer for the Town of Colonial Beach, was served with a warrant for criminal trespass. It also states that there is no insurance coverage in place to fund her defense and seeks to provide funding.
An attached agreement was referenced and has not been provided to the Press, but it was stated at the meeting by Town Manager Val Foulds that the agreement states that the Town will fund up to $4,000 and if Davis is found guilty, she will pay back the funds to the Town.
Foulds had been requested by council members to discern whether she thought Davis was acting within the scope of her job at the previous day’s meeting.
Foulds said, “I have reviewed the job description for Ms. Davis, and I have spoken with her immediate supervisor, Gary Mitchell.”
Mitchell wrote, “Based on my understanding of the incident that occurred on March 8 of 2014, involving Davis and the property owner of 320 First Street, she was ensuring the work occurring on the property did not need a building/zoning permit. Further upon reviewing Ms. Davis’ job description, in my professional opinion, Davis was performing her job at the time.”
Foulds said she did not get an email from Building Inspector Dextor Monroe, but had spoken with him personally. Foulds said that after talking with both gentlemen, “I am confident that she was performing within the scope of her job description.”
Next, both Councilwomen Wanda Goforth and Linda Brubaker spent a considerable amount of time trying to establish Foulds as Davis’ immediate supervisor. Both women stated they had spoken to someone, who they did not identify, from Parks and Planning who stated that Davis often went to Foulds for supervision.
However, The Journal has spoken with the town clerk and Gary Mitchell, who both said they are not aware of any “Parks and Planning” entity in the Town of Colonial Beach.
Goforth read two excerpts form the code enforcement officer’s job description. She referenced “Requires ability to read state code and town code, building code, zoning ordinances, erosion and sediment control standards, building plans, reference guides, program manuals, policies and procedures.”
Goforth interpreted that to mean, “If that’s a requirement of her job, she should know what state code is, and she should know what warrants going into a home.”
Goforth said, “She did not use good judgment and due diligence, in my opinion.”
Brubaker stated she felt there were other incidents with this house and asked if these legal actions could be construed as retaliation. Brubaker said that this home was close to her office and said, “I happen to know this home has been rented in the past to someone who might have had issues.” Brubaker stated she wants to make sure that Davis, Mitchell or the town manager showed this homeowner due diligence if they came to talk to them, “Which I know they did,” she added.
Brubaker told her rendition of what happened, then Councilman Edwards began to tell his side of the story as well as give insights from his experience of being a code enforcer in the past.
During their renditions, Brubaker showed considerable anger towards Edwards, telling him he should not have contacted Davis and had done so after he knew she had been arrested.
Edwards stated that if Davis is found guilty by a judge, she should be reprimanded or fired, but said that if the Town does not back its employees, it will affect other Town staff in doing their jobs. He used trash collection and water shutoff as examples where Town workers may be to nervous to offer services or carry out their jobs.
Goforth disagreed with Edwards, stating she has not seen any garbage men come to her door to pick up trash, then stated, “She knew she was not supposed to enter that house, and she entered it; that is a violation, and it’s a warrant.”
Goforth questioned why Edwards went there and talked to Davis. Goforth said she was told not to do so, and reminded council that she is the POC (point of contact) for Building and Zoning.
Goforth stated she was not able to speak with either Davis or Mitchell. She states there is a past history of complaints, which she said, “That I have been personally involved in.”
Goforth said that the homeowner owns 51 houses and a retail location in town, and she feels he was pushed to the limit.
Councilman Bone stated he would not support an illegal action, which he defined as action that was not within the scope of her job. He said that he had advised Davis to subpoena both Gary Mitchell and Val Foulds, who have both stated she was acting within the scope of her job.
Bone told the council that he had spoken with the homeowner who filed the claim. Bone said the man told him that if Mitchell had handled the situation differently; reprimanding her and assuring it would not happen again, it would have ended there.
After establishing that the agreement stated if Davis is found guilty, she would pay the money back, and that paying for legal fees does not make the Town any more or less liable for a lawsuit, Mayor Ham called for a vote. Council voted 4 to 2 to pass the resolution, contingent on both parties’ signatures. Goforth and Brubaker voted against, and Gary Seeber was absent.