COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County administrator Gerald Seals, who has twice been voted out of his official duties by Richland County Council, has delivered a blistering response to council's letter informing him of his firing.
Repeatedly and pejoratively referring to the six council members who voted for his termination as the "prevailing six," Seals defends his tenure as the county administrator and asks for a public hearing to defend himself.
Council pointed at four reasons as to why they voted to boot Seals. But Seals says none of them are valid.
"Instead of being reasons, they are thinly disguised desultory insults, character-bashings, innuendos, derisions, and personally and professionally defames," Seals wrote.
In the first reason, council said Seals was behind an "unauthorized major change of county direction" after the Richland County Department of Transportation gave a presentation about the penny tax. Council said that presentation was not approved and they didn't even know about it.
Seals said in his letter that he was merely doing his job and attempting to stave off any potential issues created by the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the penny tax program.
"It is an interesting juxtaposition of events that at the very moment the County is facing a potential fiscal crisis, its County Administrator submits a plan that averts the crisis and the prevailing six perpetuated an ambush and voted to terminate citing as Council's four reasons for termination evidence that he is doing his job," Seals wrote.
Next, council said Seals is behind a recent "rapid turnover" of staff in the county. A report submitted to us says 71 county employees were terminated without due process. But that's not the case, Seals said.
"Further, cleverly ignored is the fact that the county administrator is the County's primary hiring and firing authority: that is all separations and hires are attributable as a matter of law to the County Administrator," Seals said. "In other words, one of Council's reasons for termination is that I am doing my job!"
Third, council accused Seals of sleeping during public meetings. Not so, said Seals, but he wrote that he regularly comes to work at 6:45 a.m. and leaves at 8 p.m.
"There has been no evidence of me being non-responsive to any queries or failing to do the things I should be doing," Seals wrote.
Seals defended himself the most on the fourth count of impropriety, which focused on his work on the Richland Renaissance project. In his defense, Seals went on the attack against the six council members who voted for his firing, but stopped short of mentioning them by name.
Seals alleges several council members have been engaged in illegal activities, such as making suspect property purchases, misplaced money, and more.
"One must remember that the prevailing six have, as one told me, 'run things for decades,'" Seals wrote. "There is substantial anecdotal evidence that Council members either knew or were involved in irregularities."
Seals said he's prepared to provide a "robust defense" of his actions as county administrator.
"I committed myself to Richland County and would like to continue working with you and our outstanding staff to make this county all it can be," Seals said.
"But I am sleeping on the job???"
Seals will now await a public hearing on his firing.