Durbin town council explodes discussing empty council seat
The months leading up to the beginning of 2012 were the calm before the storm for members of Durbin Town Council, who erupted in a heated argument while discussing the empty council seat January 10 during a special meeting.
Councilmembers reduced from five members to four when John Osborne stepped down from his seat to become the townﾒs new recorder. The vacancy was advertised and Osborne received one letter of intent from former recorder Paul Ransom.
Ransom resigned as recorder in September because he thought he was leaving town for the winter. When he and his wife, Gloria, decided to stay in town, he applied for the seat.
Councilmember Mike Vance made a motion for the council seat issue to be tabled until personnel issues could be ﾓstraightened out.ﾔ The council, mayor and recorder voted and ended up with 3-3 tie.
In most instances, when a council has a tie vote, the mayor casts the tie-breaker, but because Durbinﾒs rules and procedures call for the mayor to vote on all motions, Peck was unable to cast the deciding vote.
When Osborne tried to explain the rules and procedures, Vance stood up and threatened to walk out of the meeting.
ﾓI ainﾒt going to listen to it. I know what that says and it [is not] right,ﾔ he said. ﾓThereﾒs nobody here to break a tie and itﾒs not right for him to vote.ﾔ
Osborne said if the council wishes to change the rules, which are from West Virginia Code, the town would have to hold a special election to allow the residents to vote on changing Durbinﾒs charter.
ﾓItﾒs just a dead issue, and it will remain a dead issue until we can become mature,ﾔ Osborne said. ﾓThe whole point, when I got on this council, was to be with mature individuals. I donﾒt see any reason why we canﾒt go ahead and fill the council seat. Itﾒs ridiculous.ﾔ
As the argument continued, both Mike Vance and Earl ﾓPunkﾔ Vance stood up to leave the meeting. Peck told them if they left the office, they automatically resign their seats, according to the rules and procedures.
ﾓDonald, weﾒre walking out because of you,ﾔ Mike Vance said. ﾓHeﾒs [pointing at Ransom] a joke and I will not put him on the council because of a lot of stuff. He went and told a bare-faced lie on me.ﾔ
Mike said Ransom started problems with town worker Doug Currence concerning his hours.
ﾓYou went and started trouble with Doug, saying that I said stuff about him and I was going to cut his hours back,ﾔ Mike said.
ﾓI never talked to Doug about his hours,ﾔ Ransom countered. ﾓI tell you what, withdraw my name because thereﾒs no way in hell Iﾒm going to put up with this [expletive].ﾔ
The argument turned to Currenceﾒs hours and whether or not he should be required to clock out for lunch. Mike Vance said he wants Currence to punch out for lunch while the rest of council, mayor and recorder disagree.
ﾓDoug told me that he was going to quit if he had to punch out and you told him he had to, Mike,ﾔ Osborne said. ﾓNow be an adult and admit it. Itﾒs not a law. If it is, then Iﾒm breaking the law when I go to Snowshoe. I donﾒt punch out for lunch. I worked for the town of Palm Beach for 27 years and never punched out for lunch. I worked for exactly eight hours.ﾔ
Osborne added that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards require a 30 minute lunch and 15 minute break for every eight hours a person works.
ﾓSince Iﾒve been on the council, since Iﾒve been mayor, since Iﾒve been part of the governmental body of the town of Durbin, none of our town workers punched out for lunch,ﾔ Peck said.
ﾓI worked at Allegheny [Power] for 22 years and I never did check out at dinner time,ﾔ councilmember Bob Gray said.
Leaving that issue unresolved, council returned to the empty council seat. Mike Vance said he was not going to vote to approve Ransom to take the seat.
ﾓPersonal problems shouldnﾒt be brought into the town business,ﾔ Peck said.
The vote to accept Ransomﾒs application for the council seat died on the floor.