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Believes problem with Mt. Pleasant is Kevin Stallings

Last week’s kerfuffle in Mt. Pleasant over Mayor Sandra Bigler’s resignation reminds me of John Dean’s appearance before a Senate Committee in 1973, in which he said, “There’s a cancer at the heart of the presidency.” The resignation of Mayor Bigler has revealed a ‘cancer’ at the heart of the Mt. Pleasant City Council, and its root cause, in my opinion, can be laid directly at the feet of Councilman Kevin Stallings.

Mayor Bigler’s resignation is far more a palace coup than a simple resignation, facilitated by the bullying and hostile work environment created by Stallings and his minions. It overturns the will of the people when they reelected her as the city’s chief executive officer eight months ago.

Stallings, I call him King Kevin now, has engaged in a relentless campaign intended to thwart almost every executive decision of the past two mayors, including direct interference in city personnel matters.

Mayor Bigler cited this unwarranted interference as the major reason for her resignation. She told me, “Steve, I just couldn’t take it anymore.” In conversations with former mayor, David Blackham, he said, “I couldn’t get anything done because Kevin Stallings wanted to run everything himself.” He added that his resignation was prompted by Stallings’ constant interference more than any other issue.

Now Stallings and his cabal have concocted a plan to appoint an all-powerful “temporary emergency support” executive, who, according to the municipal code, will have all city employees under his authority.

His name is Paul Madsen. He is not is a qualified, professional, municipal administrator. He is a construction worker and miner. And surprise, surprise, he is one of Stallings’ closest personal friends. Without denigrating Mr. Madsen, being friends with King Kevin appears to be a pretty good gig.

Perhaps the worst that has come out of all this mess is the revelation that King Kevin seems to have been feeding richly from the public trough. A GRAMA request this week revealed that Stallings’ company, Stallings Sheet Metal, has been paid some $150,000 by the city since he took office. According to the former public works director, he is the exclusive contractor for maintenance and repair of heating and air conditioning in city buildings.

Councilman Justin Atkinson has a similar conflict of interest issue in regard to his employer, Sunshine Engineering.

I have queried both former mayors as to whether either Stallings or Atkinson ever recused themselves in any vote, including approval of bills, that either Stallings or Atkinson’s employer would have benefited from. Both said they had never seen either man do it.

The optics here are terrible, giving the strong appearance of corruption at the heart of the Mt. Pleasant City Council. I believe there are grounds for an immediate state auditor’s investigation.

What can you do? Citizens should fill the chambers of the next council meeting to demand an end to all this. To put it in a medieval perspective, the oligarchs have seized the castle and ransacked the treasury, and are in the process of usurping all authority unto themselves. “To the barricades,” good citizens of Mt. Pleasant, “to the barricades.”

All should read Dianne Blackham’s open letter posted to Facebook entitled, How We Mix Church and State, which details King Kevin’s terrible abuse of ecclesiastical position to attempt to browbeat the Blackhams into bending to his secular will.

 

Steven Clark

Chester

Member, Mt. Pleasant Main Street Committee