Judge rules Chapin special meetings unlawful - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Judge rules Chapin special meetings unlawful

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CHAPIN, SC (WIS) -

After Tuesday night's fiery meeting, the town of Chapin remains divided and there's no end in sight.  

"Cities and towns, not just in South Carolina but across the country, their primary mission is to provide very basic services that are needed by residents and by businesses," said Jeff Shacker, field services manager with the Municipal Association of South Carolina. 

Shacker said the fighting in Chapin is likely the worst he's seen.

"There's some instances in the state where there are tensions on council, but the situation in Chapin may be a little more acute than those," Shacker said.

On Wednesday, the battle continued.

Mayor Skip Wilson and his allies scored a victory in court.

Judge Thomas Cooper Jr. said the two special meetings three council members held in April, which the mayor and another councilman didn't attend, were illegal because the mayor didn't approve the agenda.

The ruling means embattled Town Clerk Adrienne Thompson is suspended again after being reinstated in a special meeting last week, the town attorney who was hired in the special meeting is no longer employed and all the other votes are also null and void.

"You want to make sure that discord on the council is not impacting the quality of the services that the town is delivering to the residents and their businesses," Shacker said.

Council members don't know yet if the town's day-to-day operations have been affected but some worry business licenses might go unfiled and pay checks for town employees won't be signed.

Checks require the signature of the mayor and town clerk, who is still at home suspended with pay.

"It's much easier said than done, but hopefully the council is at or will get to a point where they can agree to disagree and find some common ground," Shacker said.

The legal battle isn't over for now, though.

The attorney for Council members Bibi Atkins, Robbie Frick and Kay Hollis plans to appeal since he said the town ordinance is on his side.

"People do make mistakes," said Attorney Andy Syrett. "That's why we have erasers on pencils and appellate courts."     

Syrett said the ruling gives the mayor unlimited power and makes the council basically obsolete since they can't get items on the agenda.

The scheduled special meeting for Thursday has been canceled.

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