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Supports Draper, resignation brings back hard memories

 

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter former mayor David Blackham wrote to Sam Draper after Draper resigned as public works director in Mt. Pleasant. Blackham asked the Messenger to reprint portions of the letter in our letters-to-the-editor column.

 

Dear Sam:

I just arrived home from the council meeting today held at the acceptance of Mayor Bigler’s resignation and I couldn’t help but think of you and your resignation. The three council members (as two were absent) acted as if there were no problems as they presented you and the mayor’s departure as nothing more than a peaceful severance. We both know it was different.

I, having experienced an insatiably hostile environment before resigning as mayor, was targeted with false sexual harassment accusations and completely pounced upon by the two senior councilmen. Today, those memories couldn’t escape my thinking.

The absolute desire of the two councilmen to usurp my executive authority and circumvent my prerogatives while mayor with threats of reversing any and all actions I would take was the ultimate bullying to me.

I remember how painful it was then; and today at the council meeting it was beyond my ability to overcome my own feelings as the events unfolded. It was not a normal second council meeting of the month.

The second meeting was established to only pay the bills. Today they added to their agenda the resignation acceptance of the mayor and announced your resignation and installed a mayor pro temp without allowing any public comment. It was so wrong to do!

I remember while I was mayor, the two senior councilmen would deride and belittle you and the other public works employees, and I would have none of that.  I consider you as one of the most talented and capable persons I have ever known when it comes to systems analysis and maintenance of anything.

I fondly still think of you as “Superman Sam” and always will. I could and did rely on you for anything that would go haywire in the overall city workings. You never had a word of complaint and always assured me that it would be taken care of. As it always was.

I never would allow the short-sighted complaints of the two councilmen to detract from the exceptional work you were so dedicated to.

I truly lament the extreme adverse environment that was created when I left office.  I had no idea that Mr. Stallings and Mr. Atkinson had so much hatred for you and the other public works employees. I don’t understand their reasoning when we were so successful in fulfilling so much good work for the citizens.

I know you will be sorely missed by so many of our citizens and I hope that we can survive without you.

If I could only turn back the clock and weather the storms; then I would have remained in my position as mayor and I would have never allowed this to happen to you or the other employees.

It looks like the two have colluded to successfully convince the other council to not only remove me and the recorder Jane Banks, you and Mayor Bigler, but it looks as if they are now working on Coulter Allen and Gary Bennett, and others to name a few, by creating a hostile work environment for them.

I have asked the city for information on the two councilmen and have sought to find a possible reason for their efforts to subvert oversight by any mayor.  This is what I have found.

Mr. Stallings’ business, Stallings Sheet Metal, has received approximately $150,000 for work for the city since his election, all without a bid process.

Mr. Atkinson works for Sunrise Engineering and his firm has received over $190,000 to date in contracted work.

I am curious if their conflicts and cash-cow work has anything to do with their attitudes to seek to subvert oversight by any future mayor.  Their goal seems to make the mayor into a “puppet” with no executive authority.

Thanks for the wonderful time we had while I was mayor. You are the very best employee and servant of the people I have ever known.

David H. Blackham

Former mayor