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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Does Pine Ridge's Mayor Wells know what he was elected to do??

Pine Ridge, SC (Judith Cooper) 12/10/2020 - Robert Wells Jr. was elected to the position of Mayor to the Town of Pine Ridge more than 3 years ago. He rallied for a Dollar General, which most residents didn't want. He created a revolving door on the Police Dept. The Town has been sued by a Land Developer and 2 former town employees. We can add more to that list as former Chief Parks and the City of Marion are probably going to sue us as well. Yet Mayor Wells still insists he are not culpable for any of it.

There seems to be an on going issue with Mayor Wells. The job he was elected to preform VS the job he is doing. Let's take a moment to review how the job titles that he holds are described:

The definition of Mayor is an elected LEADER of a town. Their primary responsibilities are to preside at Council Meetings and act as head of the town for ceremonial purposes. They should listen and receive information from his/her constituents. Although in a Council Strong form of Gov't the Mayor acts as tie breaking vote, he should recuse himself from voting in matters that concern him.

  • Can Mayor Wells reside over a Council Meeting consistently without assistance? NO

  • Did the Mayor attend the Christmas Tree lighting? NO

  • Does the Mayor address constituents concerns by getting them addressed at Council Meetings? NO

  • Does the Mayor recuse yourself from votes that concern himself? NO

The title of Police Commissioner is defined in the Town Code, Article III,

Sec. 1-511. The Mayor shall appoint a Police Commissioner, which may be himself/herself, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. The Police Commissioner shall develop job descriptions and supervise the employees of the Police Dept. The Police Commissioner shall conduct periodic job performance reviews for all law enforcement employees and make reports to council on the results. The Police Commission shall have no law enforcement powers.

  • Did the Police Commissioner interfere with the Police Dept. operation of day to day duties? YES, every past Chief of Police complained about this.

  • Did the Police Commissioner allow former Interim Chief of Police Silano to do ALL his essential job responsibilities, which included: Respond to call of service, Investigate and prosecute criminal cases, Hire/discipline/terminate department personnel as necessary? NO, former Interim Chief of Police Silano states this in his resignation.

  • Did the Police Commissioner speak to the residents of Pine Ridge after the patrol car was set on fire? NO

  • Has the Police Commissioner ever interfered with investigations former Interim Chief Silano was conducting? YES, it has been stated he did.

  • Has the Mayor extended himself beyond your job description as Police Commissioner? YES, making a Police Chiefs schedule and not allowing him to be involved with the hiring of officers is over and above what a Police Commissioner job description.

The Public Safety Committee is defined in the Town Code, Article III,

Sec. 1-309. The Public Safety Committee shall be responsible for proper conduct of the police department, civil defense, emergency safety procedures, and coordination of emergency services. The chairperson of this committee shall be the Police Commissioner with duties assigned by the council.

Remember this Chairman Wells...The duties as Chairman of the Pubic Safety Commission are assigned by the Council.

  • Did the Council assign Chairman Wells the duty to suspend the K9 program? NO, they did not.

  • Was the entire Council even aware that the K9 program was going to be suspended prior to it happening? NO, they were not.

Mayor Wells informed former Interim Chief of Police in an email (as Police Commissioner) that the K9 program was suspended. We know that by Town Ordinance and definition the Police Commissioner has no law enforcement powers. With that being said it appears it is possible that the K9 program may never have been actually suspended. Looks like the Mayor and Council Members will be given another chance to do this properly.

By definition of all of Mayor Robert Wells' job titles, it doesn't appear he preforms any of them with justice. Cheryl Patrick stated, at the 11/10 Council Meeting, allegations that the Mayor was responsible for the P.R.P.D. resignations. He responded by stating "I’m one vote, I’m only the speaker of this group,” Most would say that by definition Mayor Wells doesn't have one vote. He has three inputs about the P.R.P.D., as Mayor, Police Commissioner and Chairman of the Public Safety Committee. That just should not be allowed of any Council Member, especially the Mayor.

Also, the manner of which a vote was taken 11/10, to remove Mayor Wells as a member of the Public Safety Committee, should never have happened. Mayor Wells appeared lost as to what to do when Councilwoman Sturkies made a the motion to remove him from that Committee. The Mayor should have known what to do. It was pointed out (perhaps by Vicki Miller the person the voice came from off view of the camera) to remove Mayor Wells from the Public Safety Committee it would require a change of Ordinance. This is actually a vote of no confidence because it wasn't binding. However, Mayor Wells voted as a tie breaker for himself. Mayor Wells have you never heard of Conflict of Interest? It is clearly stated in Town Code Article III Rules of Procedure, Quorum: presiding officer 1-303 (a) and in Article III Rules of Procedure, Voting 1-306 (b) . In addition it is in Robert's Rules of Order 11th edition Recusal because of Conflict of Interest. We have heard the words micro-management stated in articles and tv news clips. This phrase has become synonymous with the name Mayor Robert Wells. There is no way to be an effective leader if you micro-manage. Leaders are the polar opposite of micro-managers, while a leader may call an employee's actions into question and may need to closely scrutinize some of the employees duties, the leader has faith in the workplace and the ability to inspire and gather a following. While there are many leadership styles, effective managers know how to strike a strong balance between managing themselves, their employees and their network. In a conversation with Former Interim Chief Silano Mayor Wells told him that even the 30 seconds it took K9 Rens to relieve himself was a distraction from his job. K9 Rens was an Officer of the Town of Pine Ridge. Hopefully, the Robert Wells, as Police Commission, isn't over concerning himself about the time it takes the P.R.P.D. officers to relieve themselves. That certainly would be taking micro-management to a new level! Mayor Wells you micro-managed far too many members of the P.R.P.D. to the point they needed to resign. Turn over at the rate he is going is NOT normal as he would like to have people believe. The L.C.S.D. is shy 12 to 15 members to their Dept. That is a drop in the bucket compared to how number of members that make up their entire force. The Town of Pine Ridge is down 100%. Time to stop making excuses. Hiring an agency to find a Police Chief is just costing the town money. The result will be the same. In any of the positions Mayor Wells holds his micro-managing style will force the new Police Chief to resign as well. In the State newspaper article Mayor Wells really seems to have a high opinion of himself. This is a major trait of most micro-managers. A good leader can take the blame for something squarely on there shoulders. Learn from the mistake and better themselves. How does he have the nerve the to tell The State newspaper "Like Marion, it seems the town did not do our due diligence as much as we thought" There were no red flags for the City of Marion because Mayor Wells didn't report anything to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy prior to Parks being hired there. Mayor Wells also stated "there was no need for the K9 program as zero calls came from the town, they were either for mutual aid or other municipalities." Mutual aid means partially for the Town of Pine Ridge. Also, a drug dealer or someone on the run doesn't put their brakes on when they hit the Pine Ridge town line. There is nothing wrong with assisting others to keep crime down. In the end it keeps the crime out of Pine Ridge. When the P.R.P.D. needs back up this goes a long way for others municipalities to have our 6. Finally, Mayor Wells commented in The State newspaper "turn over in a town like Pine Ridge tends to be high" NO Mayor Wells, turn over isn't the norm. Time for the him to admit he is the reason for the turn overs. Mayor Busby only had 4 chiefs in 20 years. Try to explain this to your advantage Mayor Wells. There has been a FOIA Request sent to Pine Ridge Town Hall. It is for all cases that were dismissed due to lack of testimony from arresting officer. Receipt of request has been received. In my opinion, Mayor Wells, if it were not for your constant meddling and micro-management of the P.R.P.D. the arresting officer would have been available to give testimony as they would not have resigned. Finally, The position of Police Commissioner needs to be eliminated. Mayor Wells needs to be removed from the Public Safety Committee. Council Members need to get this on the agenda NOW!! The Mayor needs to focus on the job he was elected to, the Mayor of the Town of Pine Ridge.

NOTE: Guest editorials are submitted by the author without any request from The Lexington Ledger's staff to do so. They are the thoughts and OPINIONS of the author and may or may not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the owners and staff of The Lexington Ledger. Anyone may submit one for consideration as long as the guidelines for doing so that are found on the OPINION page of The Lexington Ledger are followed.

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