Voters want answers as to why county councilman has been absent - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Voters want answers as to why county councilman has been absent at meetings

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FAIRFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) – Fairfield County council has changed the way it handles council member absences after a councilman's missed nearly half the meetings so far this year. Council voted to make the changes to its bylaws after dozens of voters started complaining about Councilman Mikel Trapp's absence from council meetings.

A WIS review of council minutes since the first meeting on Jan. 14 shows Trapp's missed 22 of 46 meetings. Trapp is one of seven council members and the only one to miss more than 15 meetings this year.

"We're stuck with someone who has taken the attitude to pursue his own personal development above what he was elected to do," Trapp constituent Carol Turner told WIS.

Turner went to council on Nov. 18 to complain about her elected representative's attendance record.

"He's getting paid to serve and that's what he was elected to do. He's getting my money and everybody else's up here and he should attend the meetings and if school is in conflict with his interest, he needs to be dismissed from council. Our money is going to waste," voter Tommy Smith told council.

"Mr. Trapp has started school and his attendance is off some," council chairman David Ferguson told the crowd sitting inside council chambers.

To that, a sound of chuckles erupted from the audience. Trapp is enrolled at Columbia College and Fairfield County tax payers paid his tuition to the private women's college between April 2011 and January 2013, county finance records show.

The only other council member to miss multiple meetings is Councilman David Brown. Council minutes show Brown's missed 15 of the 46 meetings this year, but his family told WIS Brown's missed meetings while being treated for throat cancer. Minutes show, Brown has participated in council meetings by telephone from time to time.

Here's the 2013 attendance record for Fairfield County council through the last meeting on Nov. 25:

David Ferguson: 46 of 46 meetings

Mary Lynn Kinley: 46 of 46 meetings

Carolyn Robinson: 45 of 46 meetings

Kamau Marcharia: 43 of 46 meetings

Mikel Trapp: 22 of 46 meetings

Dwayne Perry: 46 of 46 meetings

David Brown: 15 of 46 meetings

On Nov. 18, council voted to change its bylaws to require council members to notify the council clerk of an absence before a meeting. The rule change also requires members to state the reason for their absence. Trapp was not present at the meeting to vote on the rule change.

Council did look into whether it could punish Trapp for missing 48 percent of the meetings this year. County administrator Milton Pope told council there is nothing the body could do to punish Trapp.

Councilman Dwayne Perry voted to change the rules to require members to state the reason they can't make a scheduled meeting.

"You pay us. You elected us and I think it's absolutely our responsibility to attend these meetings," Perry said during the Nov. 18 meeting.

We were not able to catch Trapp at any of the council meetings we attended during this investigation. Trapp has only attended three meetings since the July 31 county council meeting. We emailed Trapp on Nov. 21, then went to his home and left a note in his door on Nov. 22. Later in the day on Nov. 22, we went to Spring Valley High School where Trapp teaches a construction class. We left a message for him to call us.

Trapp declined to interview with us concerning this investigation, writing to us in a Nov. 22 email: "Mr. Barr, I have no comment."

Fairfield County council's latest meeting was Nov. 25. Mikel Trapp did not attend that meeting and no reason was stated and entered into the record.

The county administrator told council, since Trapp is an elected official; the only remedy for his absences is for voters to handle the matter at the ballot box.

Trapp is in his third term on council and his term expires Dec. 31, 2014.

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