Outside City Council closed session

People look on and listen to shouts coming from a City Council closed session Monday.

An explosive closed session in the City Hall Addition Monday evening stopped the chatter of about 30 people in the lobby outside as a member of City Council started shouting.

Before the work session started, council called a closed session to talk about a personnel issue.

About 12 minutes into the closed session, Councilman Antonio Williams could clearly be heard shouting about the censure procedure that was on the public agenda. Other raised voices could be heard. Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West went inside, and other people gathered outside the door that had two windows in it.

A few minutes later, the closed session was over and the public was allowed back inside.

Ron Lawrence, city attorney, said the procedures to censure were sent last week to councilmen so they would know how to follow the process that Williams is facing.

During a hearing May 2, council voted 4-2 to censure Williams for allegedly creating a hostile work environment during a Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority board meeting when Shycole Simpson-Carter, community relations director, said Williams verbally attacked her and made her fear for her safety, something Williams has consistently denied.

At Monday’s meeting Williams brought his attorney to the council’s work session and asked him to look over a resolution on censure procedure drafted by the city attorney. Williams also submitted censure rules he had assembled from other cities and asked that that be put in the record.

Mayor Chuck Allen said the board would take it under advisement.

Williams said he did not think the resolution drawn up by the city attorney was legal and disputed some of the procedures. He handed a copy to his attorney.

Williams’ attorney said the document would give someone the right to take the Fifth Amendment but asked who would make that determination to give a person that right. He said if it was not a criminal case a person wouldn’t have that right. If a judge ordered someone to testify, he or she would have to do it or be held in contempt, he said.

Allen said the meeting was not a hearing and the people in attendance started murmuring, which caused Councilman Mark Stevens to tell the mayor to have them removed from the room. But despite the distraction, they were not removed, and the meeting continued.

Stevens said if Williams’ attorney is saying that it comes down to criminal intent for someone to use the Fifth Amendment, why was the board acting as if it was a court of law.

Stevens said that if the city was going to move forward, Carter-Simpson or whoever makes the allegations needs to just bring a lawsuit against the city of Goldsboro.

“Just let it all come out,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the censure issue was taking up too much of the city’s time.

“It’s just become a nightmare, and we’re not getting things done for the citizens of Goldsboro,” he said. “I have constituents that are upset because the roads need taking care of.”

Williams said the truth is out there in email and social media, adding he did not know Carter-Simpson or have any contact with her.

Councilman Bill Broadaway made a motion to approve the resolution on censure procedure. It passed 4-2.

Lawrence said during a recent closed session council decided to release the 78-page report about the investigation done after Carter-Simpson’s allegations. Since Carter-Simpson signed an agreement to release the report, the city plans to do so after the city personnel who were witnesses are redacted from it, Lawrence said.