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Creager Explains Day Timeline and Clashes with Hatch

Article Date: 
8 October, 2010 - 06:00

In a night that began with conflict and accusations, Chairman Sid Creager took center stage at the council meeting on behalf of the council to explain, to the extent they are able with the investigation continuing, the events that led up to the charges being filed against Garth Day. Chairman Creager also explained the decision process that brought about the council administrator position to be posted on the county website.
Over the past weeks Creager and other council members have received many calls about the situation with Garth Day. Chairman Creager felt that some in the county, specifically Larry Hatch and Robert Kilmer had been telling residents that he personally was spearheading the campaign to replace the council administrator position now rather than waiting for the new council at the beginning of next year. He felt that these accusations were questioning his integrity. In his usual blunt style, Creager’s comments hit the issue head on and provided context on the events and chronology.
Creager said, “As surprised as some of you may be, I appreciate the comments that have been made. This one hurts a little bit, it hurts a little bit for everyone. The council knows exactly how you are feeling…at t the end of August we felt the exact same way. We felt betrayed. We felt taken advantage of. There are a host of emotions that we have all felt… We have had some individuals tonight who have called for my resignation. It is pretty hard to put a price on someone’s integrity. If you were to ask me if I could put a value on my integrity I would tell you that it is priceless, that you couldn’t put a price on it. So it hurts pretty bad. “
Creager reviewed the meeting that took place last week at the Mountain Green Fire station. He said that Larry Hatch had accused Creager of orchestrating the replacement of the council administrator position. He continued saying, “His [Hatch’s] request is for my resignation and he is basing that on my behavior and in public meetings he has called me on the carpet as saying that I have orchestrated the rehiring. Is that an inaccurate statement Mr. Hatch?” Hatch confirmed that the statement was accurate. Creager then asked Robert Kilmer a similar question. Kilmer replied that he did not recall making those statements at the meeting. Creager reported that citizens had called him reported that Kilmer and Hatch had both told them that Creager had orchestrated the hiring. Kilmer replied, “I will go on record saying that I have had people ask me who did it and that I have said that five of the council members that people have talked to denied having anything to do with it and that I was told by one individual in the county that you were the one that told them to put it on the Internet.”
Creager then offered a challenge to Hatch that if at the end of the discussion, Hatch’s statements were true then Creager would resign. If on the other hand if the statements Hatch had made were not true that Hatch would withdraw from the race. Hatch agreed. Creager then explained in detail the events leading up to charges being filed against Day and the decision to move forward with hiring.
Creager said, “The citizens deserve to know the other half of the story… On the 27 of August just before 2 in the afternoon I received a phone call from Mr. Garth Day. His comment to me was that he had done some things that he should not have done and that he felt that it would be appropriate for the council to put him on unpaid administrative leave or fire him on the spot. He gave me additional information. I won’t go into the details of that…I immediately called the council. I immediately called our county attorney. He suggested I call the Sheriff, which I did. I requested the Sheriff set up a meeting with the treasurer, which he did. We met at 9:00 on the morning of the 28th… I gave them all of the information that I had. All of the information that Mr. Day had shared with me. At that point in time when I had the discussion on the 27th I put him on unpaid administrative leave…
We called for an immediate executive session for Tuesday night August 31st. On Monday the 30th when we came in I requested that the IT department have Mr Day’s email forwarded to me. Not for the purpose of conducting or pursuing the investigation, but to make sure things were not dropped. On Tuesday the 31st I receive an e-mail that was suspicious in its nature I share that information the same afternoon with our sheriff, which appeared to be some loan documents. I made additional phone calls and obtained additional documents and information and in the executive session, the majority of the executive session that evening was spent with me sharing that information with Mr. Edwards, the sheriff, with Jann, and the entire council…I did not terminate Garth on the 27th when I spoke with him. I felt that was a decision that needed to be made by the entire council…
In addition to that discussion that night there was also the discussion on how the council moves forward with no council administrator. The discussion was had there, ‘What do we do’ and there was no overall consensus to my recollection. Council members recognized that it was going to be very, very, difficult moving forward without a council administrator and the decision that came out of that executive session was that every council member was to go back and speak with those in their portfolio and request if they could add or provide assistance with how they would modify or how they would redefine the job description for the council administrator…
The next meeting was not until the 21st. We went three weeks without a council meeting. We did not have another executive session we did not have meetings behind closed doors… We met again on the 21st. We scheduled this time another executive session. It is appropriate for the council to have an executive session when it comes to having discussions to personell…More importantly we did it out of respect for the Sheriff asking us to be discretionary in what we say so that we do not interfere with his investigation…
The second executive session we had on the 21st. A good portion of that meeting was filled with our county attorney answering questions for the council. Jann had shared with me the prior Thursday or Friday a significant amount of information and I and I felt that the council had a right to ask the questions…
The discussion then continued on with regards to what do we do with the council administrator’s position. It was overwhelmingly felt that somehow someway we needed to more forward with the hiring of the council administrator. We decided that we needed to gather input from other eleced officials and department heads. We set up a work session for the following Tuesday…That meeting was held in a sincere effort to try to gather some input… Obviously we got a significant amount of negative feedback. On the following day, which would have been last Wednesday I am required to finalize the council agenda so that we can go to press so that it can be properly and adequately advertised. On that morning I called every single councilmember individually and I asked them, ‘What do you want to have happen with the council administrator? What is your preference? How do you want to handle it. We narrowed it down to one of three things needed to happen regarding our council agenda of tonight. I asked them, I narrowed in down. I said, ‘I think that this needs to be happened in one of three ways. If you are not sure what you want to do we can go into another executive session. If you don’t want to do that we can have an agenda item in the council meeting or three ,it is your desire and your choice, this is an administrative function, it is not a legislative or an executive position. It would simple be a replacement of an existing position. And I called every one of them and I asked them what their choice was.”
Creager then polled each council member. Each of them confirmed that they supported moving forward with advertising for the hiring of the position. Some of the council also expressed that they also asked the Chairman to explain to the citizens the reason behind the decision.
Member Haslam then further reported that the Chairman had been neutral in the discussion and had not worked to influence the council members in any way. He further stated that if individuals there were continuing to assert that the Chairman tried to influence the council on this issue that they were questioning his integrity.
Chairman Creager then called on Hatch to withdraw from the election. Hatch agreed to do so. Many in attendance at the meeting expressed their opposition to Hatch’s statement and communicated that they though he should continue to run. Chariman Creager then, at the council’s direction contact the county’s HR representative to work to finalize the position and prepare for advertising it. The HR representative posted the position on the website as a part of their process.
This is likely not the end of the debate.  It seems that the council is likely to move forward on the position.  Each individually expressed the desire to move forward with the position even after heated comments from those attending the council meeting.  The members of the council have, in the past, expressed significant support for this position.  It seems that this opinion is continuing.