Lewisburg City Council met in special session Tuesday night with just one thing on the agenda: “personnel issue ethics compliance.” Upon opening the meeting, council immediately moved to go into executive session in order to discuss the agenda item. They were joined by city attorney Jesse O. Guills, but Mayor John Manchester remained in council chambers.
Manchester declined to comment on what the council members and the attorney were discussing.
Council and Guills remained in executive session for nearly 50 minutes, and when they returned to chambers, Council member Mark Etten stated that no decisions were made, and that council merely received advice from their attorney. Following that remark, council voted to come out of executive session and immediately adjourned.
The regular meeting of the finance committee was scheduled immediately following the special meeting, and items 10, 11 and 12 on its agenda were “personnel issue ethics compliance,” “evaluation of city administrator,” and “consideration of merit for city administrator.” Etten told the Mountain Messenger that he would recommend all of those items be tabled on the advice of their attorney.
Guills later said that the issue at hand was a complaint filed with the West Virginia Ethics Commission by Lewisburg resident Terry Wodder, who took issue with Manchester’s dual roles as mayor and city administrator.
According to Guills, the complaint was dismissed by the ethics commission. However, he said, the commission’s ruling brought to light some “collateral, side issues,” which he and council discussed during the executive session.