Whether or not Councilman Antonio Williams will end up being reinstated to the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority board of directors may now come down to a vote by that board.
At its meeting Monday, the council voted to send the question of Williams’ reinstatement back to the GWTA board for a vote, hoping to find a resolution to a conflict that began in September and which the council has now deferred action on three times.
Williams initially asked to be reinstated to the board at the council’s Dec. 5 meeting. The council removed him from the board in October after receiving a letter from GWTA board chairman Freeman Hardison Jr. alleging Williams verbally harassed Shycole Simpson-Carter, a fellow board member and Goldsboro’s community relations director.
The council tabled the discussion at the Dec. 5 meeting and then again on Dec. 17, after Williams claimed he had not been given due process in being removed from the board.
Goldsboro’s code of ordinances grants the council the power to remove its appointed board members at its pleasure, but the GWTA board’s bylaws state that a recommendation to remove a member from the board is to be made to the “appointing local government” after a two-thirds vote.
City attorney Ron Lawrence said that the city had not violated any laws by removing Williams. Lawrence also said that because the GWTA board did not move to remove him, its bylaws did not apply.
He cited Kinsland v. Mackey, a 1940 N.C. Supreme Court case in which the court affirmed that “where the term of a public office is not fixed by statute or the Constitution, the appointing authority has the power, as an incident of appointment, to remove its appointee without cause, notice or hearing.”
Williams said that the lack of a two-thirds vote by the GWTA board meant that Hardison’s letter should never have been sent. Mayor Chuck Allen then gave the council three choices.
“We can, No. 1, do as Councilmember Williams asks and reinstate him to the board. We can, No. 2, delay our vote on this at all and send it back to the (GWTA) board to properly vote on it for his removal or not removal,” he said. “Or we can, No. 3, attorney Lawrence has said we are legitimate in what we did, and we can just not appoint him back to the board.”
Councilman Bill Broadaway then made a motion to go with the second option, which Councilman Mark Stevens seconded. This set off a new debate, however, when Councilman Bevan Foster said that Williams should be allowed to vote alongside other members of the GWTA board if they take up the issue.
“I don’t really have a problem with sending it back to the board, but I think that Mr. Williams should be there to talk to the board members, vote, because he had voting power on this decision, and then come back to us,” Foster said. “It might not have to come back to us.”
Lawrence then said that, because Williams is no longer on the GWTA board, he is not allowed to vote on its decisions.
In essence, this would mean that the council would need to reinstate Williams so that Williams could vote on his own reinstatement, a motion that Broadaway said he would not make.
Foster then turned to Stevens, asking him if he wanted to keep his second knowing that Williams would not be able to vote.
Stevens seemed as ready as anyone to be done with the issue.
“Truthfully, I don’t know anything about this whole situation because I wasn’t even in the state when this thing was going on,” he said. “So I’m going to just leave it like it is and let the board figure it out because I don’t know anything about this situation.”
The council approved the motion in a 5-2 vote. Allen, Broadaway, Stevens and Councilmen David Ham and Gene Aycock voted in favor, while Williams and Foster voted against the motion.