By Paul Gable
Only minutes after the end of the last regular meeting of county council during which plans for a search for a new county administrator were discussed, several council members moved to hijack the search.
According to information received from various council members:
Immediately after the close of the regular meeting: council member Harold Worley approached interim administrator Steve Gosnell about taking the permanent administrator job without going through the search process.
Being a single member of council, Worley had no right to circumvent the search process in this manner, but he did it anyway.
Worley contacted council member Johnny Vaught the following day, explained he had talked to Gosnell, brought Vaught on board with the plot and tasked Vaught to secure sufficient votes from other council members over the next few days.
While Vaught was contacting other council members, council member Gary Loftus contacted the county’s Human Resources Department telling them not to post the job opening for administrator as had been discussed before full council at the meeting. As a single council member, Loftus had no authority to issue such an instruction.
At the regular council meeting, Loftus made a motion to reconsider the vote to accept the separation of former administrator Chris Eldridge to add to it acceptance of Gosnell as interim county administrator. Loftus said this motion was made, “So we make sure that we follow proper legal procedure.”
After the motion to reconsider was approved, Loftus offered an amendment to appoint Gosnell as interim administrator “under short term contract to be entered into by the chairman on behalf of county council,” The amendment passed and the main motion accepting Eldridge’s separation and appointing Gosnell to interim administrator under short term contract passed.
On the dais in front of the public, proper procedure was the rule of the hour. However, proper procedure was ignored immediately after the meeting and in the next several days as this behind the scenes plot unfolded. And nobody bothered to contact the chairman until the plot was in motion and Vaught called Gardner to ask for his support.
At that point, Gardner said the search was going forward and Gosnell was welcome to put his name in the mix if he chose, and be considered with the other applicants for the position. Gardner contacted HR to tell them to post the job, which was accomplished Sunday May 12th.
This attempted hijacking of the administrator search is typical of the actions of the Deep Six, Worley, Loftus, Dennis DiSabato, Tyler Servant, Bill Howard and Cam Crawford, during the four months Gardner has been chairman. The Deep Six have consistently demonstrated they are willing to pursue selfish agendas for themselves or special interests, often attempting to minimize Gardner to make him look bad in the process.
According to information provided to GSD, all of the Deep Six agreed to vote for Gosnell with Vaught added to the mix.
This is especially disturbing as it was the Deep Six who voted not to fire Eldridge in March, thereby costing the county approximately $300,000 in a separation agreement rather than forcing Eldridge to go to court to receive anything from the county, if he were successful.
Servant was particularly proud that he didn’t vote for Eldridge’s contract, but he didn’t support firing him for cause. Now, Servant is willing to vote for Gosnell with no contract negotiated. If the plot to hire Gosnell had been successful, there is no telling what the provisions of a contract negotiated after the fact would have been.
DiSabato was quite vocal about discussing dismissal of Eldridge in public as it was “the public’s business,” but he was perfectly willing to go along with this plot without the public knowing.
Speaking of the public, the citizens voted for change when they elected Gardner over incumbent chairman Mark Lazarus 11 months ago.
Yet, the Deep Six are willing to attempt a back door plot to put in place a division head who worked under Eldridge, one who knew about the fictitious allegations perpetrated by Eldridge and attorney Arrigo Carotti against Gardner, before council members did.
More about the fictitious allegations will be coming out as lawsuits against individuals and the county are filed and depositions taken by those included in the Carotti/Eldridge novel. Who knows what information will surface?
One wonders why Gosnell would go along with this plot. If he wants the job of permanent administrator, he certainly has some qualifications ticked off already, having served as interim administrator previously. Why wouldn’t he insist on going through the selection process if he wanted to be considered as a serious candidate?
I would posit three possible reasons the Deep Six and their cronies have for wanting Gosnell to become permanent administrator.
Gosnell worked for DDC Engineering before moving to the county as the county engineer and now head of the entire division. Having Gosnell in place would probably help DDC head Mike Wooten keep I-73 as a somewhat viable project at least at the county level.
Gosnell has been the liaison between county government and the Horry County Solid Waste Authority. He didn’t raise any concerns when the SWA paid a lobbyist over $1 million to essentially lobby against county council over flow control. More recently, there haven’t been any concerns he has raised about the SWA plan for a further, very expensive planned expansion at the county landfill when there are better and cheaper options that could be explored.
Gosnell has been part of county senior staff for a long time now and, as such, would not be inclined to take a serious look at major changes in county government even though the citizens voted for exactly such an approach when they elected Gardner.
None of the above reasons are sufficient to justify a back room plot to evade the planned search and selection process that none of the Deep Six nor anyone else on council objected to or even questioned at the last regular meeting.
Good government doesn’t operate in secret! The Deep Six often do!