Bell’s farewell address touts feats, prejudges new council

WINNSBORO – Moses Bell’s farewell address read more like a manifesto, praising his own leadership and what he saw as his many accomplishments.  He also aired his personal grievances and cast aspersions on those he perceived as as detrimental to his success.

Bell, the outgoing Fairfield County Council chairman, who recently lost a reelection bid last month, spent 15 minutes reading a prepared statement toward the end of Monday night’s council meeting.

“I had really planned to say nothing going forward,” Bell said. “But because of the things I continue to read and hear, I thought I must because so much of it has the absence of fact and truth.

“The accomplishments are many and cannot be denied, even as others write misleading, false, biased, and out-of-context reports with their negative slant to it,” Bell said.

He made references to his leadership having – in two years – set the county up for long term success. He said, among other things, that he provided the leadership in the $99 million Dominion settlement. He said former Council Chairman Billy Smith called him to congratulate him for bringing the Dominion settlement across the finish line.

He said that he was able to secure $7 million in road funding from the Midlands Council of Governments (COG), something he said his predecessors hadn’t been able to do.

While Bell has strict rules against residents mentioning council members by name during public input at meetings, he frequently called out the names of those he perceived to be his detractors, including some council members and The Voice.

In his statement, Bell did not mention the many county employees who left their jobs during his tenure or the high-ranking county officials and department heads who left or were pushed out after he became chair of council, including the county administrator, assistant county administrator, county attorney, economic development director, clerk to council, EMS director, emergency services director, detention center director, recreation director and others.

His statement also did not address the county’s audit debacle in which the state withheld $1.5 million from Fairfield after the county failed to timely submit its audit, or the unorthodox and possibly unethical $50,000 settlement the council made with a former employee who is also the wife of a sitting councilman.

Bell ended his speech by laying the groundwork for condemning the work of the new council.

He warned that using funds allocated for his proposed Ridgeway recreation center or selling the Martin Luther King Jr. monument to build a state-of-the art animal shelter “is sick and beyond repulsive.”

Contract in flux

In other business, Councilwoman Shirley Greene reported that council gave County Administrator Malik Whitaker an ‘above standard’ review on his performance evaluation following a lengthy executive session Monday night. His contract was also extended until December 31, 2023.

The vote passed 3-2 with council members Clarence Gilbert and Pauley opposing.

Council members Neil Robinson and Mikel Trapp were absent.

With Trapp and Bell set to rotate off the council in January, the current council voting majority will likely change.

Alluding to the changes, Pauley said Whitaker’s contract extension would be re-evaluated come January.

“I’m under the understanding that one council cannot bind another, and therefore coming in the beginning of 2023, the administrator would be on a day-to-day employment basis regardless of what contract may be entered into now,” Pauley said.

Spec building gets 2nd reading

Council members also approved second reading of an ordinance to spend a little over $1 million on a new spec building, a plan set into motion with the sale of the county’s last spec building in 2018 and made a reality with funding from the Dominion settlement. That vote passed unanimously.

“Spec buildings are partially completed buildings designed to attract industry. They allow companies to start operations much more quickly than building their own structure,” said Zacharias Willoughby, the county’s economic development projects manager.

A third reading is required before the spec building funding takes effect.

Comments

  1. Mike Bell says

    Whitaker’s should not be on day to day contract but a minute to minute than second to second! He is going to voted out the Fairfield Island with not more life lines.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cannot WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    MB

  2. Jeff Schaffer says

    bye bye!

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