Wednesday, 12 February 2020 14:07

Moore resigns from Hamlet City Council after being censured for obtaining police personnel information

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Councilman Terry Moore, who was sworn in in December, resigned Wednesday morning after being censured Tuesday for obtaining police personnel records through an external agency. Councilman Terry Moore, who was sworn in in December, resigned Wednesday morning after being censured Tuesday for obtaining police personnel records through an external agency. File photo

HAMLET — The City Council will — for the third time in a year — have to fill an empty seat following the resignation of Councilman Terry Moore.

Moore delivered his resignation letter to City Manager Jonathan Blanton Wednesday morning after he was censured by the board Tuesday evening for ethics code violations.

The letter, dated Feb. 12, simply reads: “I do hereby resign my city council position immediately.”

According to the resolution to censure, Moore, former chief of the Hamlet Police Department, obtained 17 personnel documents from “an external agency” on Dec. 5, 2019 and Jan. 10, in violation of state law and the city’s Code of Ethics.

The resolution also states: “... obtaining these records from an outside agency risked violating the confidentiality of City employee records.”

According to Blanton, the information was not considered public record under state law.

Moore, who was elected in November and sworn in Dec. 10, told Blanton on Jan. 15 that he was in possession of those records and 12 days later used the information to draft a memo to Blanton “in which he admits to requesting said information to investigate what he perceived to be pervasive problems within the Hamlet Police Department,” according to the resolution.

In his memo, Moore also “admits to inquiring, interfering and critiquing the actions of ongoing administrative, investigative and personnel matters” within the city and police department, the resolution states.

On Feb. 5, Chief Tommy McMasters went to Blanton with concerns regarding Moore’s “outside activities” in relation to the department.

Blanton shared those concerns with the City Council on Tuesday, which included:

  • Personal, private investigations initiated against McMasters;
  • Questions directed to outside agencies in relation to citations being written; and 
  • Comments made to former elected officials and business people, disclosing unauthorized information and making derogatory comments, the latter of which “could be construed as creating a hostile work environment.”

Following a closed session, the City Council voted 3-1 to censure Moore, with Councilman Oscar Sellers being the only one to oppose.

In addition to his resignation letter, Moore also dropped off the documents he had obtained, according to Blanton.

The city manager said he’s heard of a few other municipalities having to censure council members, but this is the first time that he’s aware of it ever happening in Hamlet, calling the situation “unfortunate.”

Before a replacement can be found, the City Council will have to accept Moore’s resignation at the next meeting. From there, it will be decided how to proceed.

The council has used different methods in the previous two appointments.

Maurice Stuart was one of several candidates — including Moore — to apply for the seat left open by the resignation of David Lindsey. He was sworn in last March.

The late Joe Robinson was appointed outright by the City Council the same night Johnathan Buie resigned in June. He passed away in August.

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 February 2020 14:41