homepage logo

Resident confronts mayor after ‘plate’ check

By Staff | Jun 6, 2012

Photo by Jonay Corley Eric Daugherty appeared before the Paden City Council Monday evening to formally air a grievance with Mayor Bill Fox.

Eric Daugherty was among the Paden City residents who appeared before the Paden City Council Monday evening to air grievances and express concerns.

“It was brought to my attention on June 1, the Paden City Police Department ran the license plate on my personal vehicle,” stated Daugherty. “I have the printout where it was ran on May 30 at 9:50 a.m.”

According to Daugherty, who is employed by the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy, he was asleep at that time of the check and his truck was parked legally on private property. “I spoke with the dispatcher and I asked him why he ran my license,” he continued. “He said ‘because the mayor told me to.'”

Speaking directly to Mayor Bill Fox, Daugherty asked, “Why did you run my license plate?”

“There was a complaint,” Fox answered.

“If there was a complaint, that’s the police department’s job,” Daugherty countered.

“There was a complaint and I said, ‘Okay, I will find out who owns the truck.’ I had no idea who owned it,” Fox said.

“I’d like to know what the complaint was,” Daugherty said.

Fox said, “Well that’s it. I just wanted to check on it.”

Checks of this nature are often ran through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center or NCIC. This system is an electronic clearinghouse of crime data utilized by law enforcement. NCIC helps criminal justice professionals apprehend fugitives, locate missing persons, recover stolen property, and identify terrorists. It also assists law enforcement officers in performing their official duties more safely and provides them with information necessary to aid in protecting the general public. Access to NCIC records is limited almost exclusively to the criminal justice and law enforcement community. Daugherty aptly noted that a mayor does not have the authority to personally obtain information through NCIC.

“Oh I don’t?” Fox defended. “What authority do I have?”

“You don’t have any,” Daugherty answered. “You don’t have the authority for any weapons checks or NCIC checks.”

“We run license checks pretty often,” Fox remarked. “And it’s not for weapons checks.”

“You do or the police department does?” Daugherty asked.

“The police department does,” Fox said. “And they work for the mayor.”

Daugherty argued that the police department worked for the city and on behalf of the citizens of Paden City. Fox maintained that the mayor was in control of all city operations.

“Go back and look at the charter,” Fox said. “They work for the mayor.”

Daugherty commented, “The charter says you oversee the police department.”

“The charter says the police work for the mayor,” Fox maintained.

Daugherty has filed a complaint against Fox with the State of West Virginia. Additionally, he has filed a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for misuse of the NCIC system, as well as a civil law suit.

“That’s fine,” Mayor Fox commented. “File whatever you want.”

“You have no business running people’s license plates,” Daugherty said.

Getting back to his original question, Daugherty once again asked about the complaint that allegedly prompted the mayor to investigate the vehicle in question.

“I don’t know what the complaint was,” Fox said.

“So you just took it upon yourself to run my license number?”

Fox answered, “Yes.”

“It wouldn’t be because of the political sign on the back on the truck, would it?”

“I wouldn’t think so,” Fox replied. “What personal (significance) would there be? I have nothing personal against you. I didn’t even know who’s truck it was.”

Once again, Daugherty asked about the sign. “It wouldn’t be because of the John Hopkins sign on the back of the truck would it?”

“You have the power to vote for whomever you want,” Fox said. “I would hope this has nothing to do with an election.”

“Then what was the complaint?” Daugherty asked again.

Ignoring Daugherty’s question, Fox moved on to another citizen. Persistent in his quest for answers, Daugherty remained front and center. “That’s my answer?”

“Yes, that’s your answer.”

Fox continued to talk around Daugherty.

“What was the complaint?” he asked persistently.

“I don’t remember,” Fox said. “I don’t know what more you expect to get because you aren’t going to get any more.”

“If there’s been a complaint filed, I’d like to see it,” Daugherty said.

“There are license numbers run here when there are no complaints,” Fox stated. “There are people who have questions about an individual or an automobile.”

Directing his question to a dispatcher, Fox asked, “When a councilman comes in with a complaint or a question, have you run a license number?”

“I have done that,” she answered. “And I have found out since that I can no longer do that. I can only do it for police officers.”

“I’ve never been informed of that,” Fox remarked.

Daugherty noted that information was included in the user agreement between the municipality and the state.

“I think we’ve covered about all we are going to cover,” Fox said. “We are trying to conduct a meeting here.”

Fox then ordered Paden City Police Chief Michael Owens to escort Daugherty from the council chamber.

* * * *

The Paden City Council heard from a citizen Monday who requested more patrol in the area of South First Avenue and Mill Street. He noted an influx of traffic due to the placement of two basketball hoops on the street in the area. According to the citizen, a group of young men have been playing in this area regularly, often blocking the street with their vehicles and using profanity. While he did not

have a problem with the young men playing basketball, he suspected they were drinking and using drugs.

“We’d like to see more police patrols in this area,” he stated.

Another Paden City resident asked about the paving of the streets in town and the large sum of money in the street fund account. These questions were also posed at the May meeting by former Recorder Ginger Wilcox.

Councilman Glenn “Bob” Casteel gave a summary of a conversation he had with Maintenance Director Clifford Duke last year. “I asked him about paving Robinson Street,” he said. “At the time he told me he was in the middle of a water line project and there was no way we could get that street paved at that time.”

A resident asked if funds were available at that time to pave. Casteel answered in the affirmative.

“Traditionally what the council has done is go around and prioritize the areas that needed paved,” noted City Attorney Carolyn Flannery. “When you were doing the sewer rehab project it was an issue because you don’t want to pave a street and then have it torn up and repaved.”

She added, “But you really can’t keep that money in some type of fund and let it grow unless you have some type of large project and a goal that you are working toward.”

“Prioritizing certain areas in town is something that you can do,” Flannery suggested. “Then you can go out for bids to have it done. You really shouldn’t be letting it build up to a large amount of money.”

Fox added, “The sewer project has been finalized and it’s over with. The street committee should go out and make a list of those streets and decide. . .”

Councilman Matt Ferrebee said, “That’s what we are going to do. Then we will bring it back to council and go from there.”

Councilman Dan Probst said, “We have to remember that our sewer project has a one year guarantee, so we don’t want to patch something that would interfere with that guarantee.”

“But there are still streets out there that don’t interfere with that project,” Wilcox pointed out.

The council entertained the first reading of an amendment to City Ordinance 920.01 (a) concerning utility regulations. The following language will be added to the ordinance in question for clarification purposes: “Active water and sewer” means the occupant shall maintain connection to city water and sewer mains and the flow of water and sewer is not interrupted by physical breakdown of the customer service lines, or by termination of water service due to non-payment of water charges, for a period not to exceed 120 continuous days from the date of interruption.

After a brief discussion, the council approved the measure.

Council voted to reject an insurance settlement for pole damage at the old middle school due to an accident that occurred on Oct. 2, 2011. Noting the $391 settlement did not cover the cost of labor to reset the pole, Councilman Dan Probst made a motion to return the settlement to the insurance company.

Police Chief Owens requested permission to purchase two drug identification books to aid his department in recognizing prescription drugs that fall into the DEA’s scheduling. Probst made a motion to allow the purchase, which was seconded by Councilman Ferrebee. In a roll call vote, all councilman were in favor of the request, with Councilman Casteel voting no.

Under building and grounds, the council approved the second reading of a property maintenance ordinance outlining the guidelines for maintenance of personal property and the procedures for reporting unkept real estate.

Mayor Fox signed a resolution on behalf of the Paden City Development Authority to accept grant funding in the amount of $6,000 to be used for improvements at the Health and Recreation Building. The community action grant was sponsored by Del. Dave Pethtel (D-Wetzel).

Council re-appointed Patti Casteel, Jim “Cork” Bowen, and Larry Potts to serve on the PCDA for the period of July 1 through June 30, 2013.

Under new business, a committee was formed to review the sick and vacation days for city employees after two councilman expressed an interest in revamping the policies regarding personal time. The three-man committee will review the policy manual and report on the matter in July.

Under old business, the councilmen revisited the matter regarding a $988 storage bill received by the city from the PCDA and an outstanding bill of $200 the PCDA is expected to pay to the city for office rent. Last month, amid numerous disagreements between the city and the development authority, the mayor appointed a committee to serve as a liaison between the entities.

“Myself, Tom Trader, and Matt Ferrebee met and came up with these findings,” Probst reported. “The PCDA is an entity of their own, but they are also an arm of Paden City (government).”

“After further investigation, we found there were no records showing rent was ever paid to the city by the PCDA. There was a rumor that there was a paper floating around that said they should pay rent, but somebody destroyed it. Well, the City Recorder has no record of this ever being charged,” Probst explained. “The PCDA has no record they ever paid rent.”

Wilcox said, “They have never paid rent, but they have never been in the City Building.”

“They have been in the City Building for the past thee year,” Probst said. “The reason why they are in the City Building is because they were appointed to be in the building according to the ordinance. If the citizens don’t want them in this building, we will have to change the ordinance.”

“There was a gentleman’s agreement between the Paden City Maintenance Department and the PCDA,” he further explained. “Clifford (Duke) stores materials that belong to the city at the industrial park, free of charge.”

In exchange for this kindness, the city agreed to provide office-space for the PCDA rent free. “I don’t know who authorized this, but there was a bill sent to the PCDA for rent for $200. We don’t know why it was sent, because council never approved anything like this,” said Probst.

“Why did the development authority bill the city for $988?” Wilcox asked.

“Because whoever sent that bill (from city to PCDA) broke that gentleman’s agreement between the PCDA and Clifford,” Probst said.

He added, “Before we vote on anything pertaining to this, Bob Casteel and Larry Potts will abstain from voting on this. The rest of council will vote and if there is a tie, the mayor will break it.”

A citizen asked, “The police department is here, the sewer board meets here – they all pay money each month. They aren’t a part of the city?”

“They are all a part of the city,” Probst answered.

“Then why don’t they (the PCDA) have to pay?” the citizen replied.

“This committee recommends that as long as the maintenance department uses the storage for free, there should be no rent charged to them (PCDA),” Probst said. “What it amounts to is that they charge the city for storage at a rate of $988 per month, the $200 won’t matter. With this agreement, as far as dollar and cents. . .”

“It needs to be in black and white,” Wilcox interjected.

“If the city decides not to use the storage down there, we will revisit this and they will have to pay rent,” Probst concluded.