Landis Alderman Moore calls out board for lack of process hiring its manager

Published 11:33 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

By Liz Moomey

LANDIS — In a standing-room-only meeting Monday night, Landis Alderman Seth Moore expressed disappointment in the other board members about the lack of a process in hiring new Town Manager Roger Hosey and tried to set the record straight about the embezzlement allegations against former town administrators.

On Feb. 7, the State Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation of possible embezzlement by former Town Manager Reed Linn and Finance Officer Ginger Gibson. The two resigned from their jobs that day.

Moore said Hosey is a friend of his and called him honest and trustworthy, but added his appointment by the board didn’t go through the right process. Moore was absent at the last board meeting, when Hosey was hired for the job.

“The process is that we had an opportunity to set a precedent and get trust from the citizens who have known in the past we’ve had a town manager who was fire chief,” Moore said.

Hosey is the deputy police chief and will become police chief at the end of the year, when Kenny Isenhour retires.

Moore said three aldermen on the current board will no longer be there after the November election and that the next board should have made the decision about appointing a town manager.

The process, Moore said, should have been like the one used to hire a finance officer, with open applications and interviews. Hosey may have still been appointed as town manager but the town board would have taken the correct actions, Moore said. He compared it to the process of hiring Diane Seaford, the new finance officer, who will start her job Wednesday.

Moore said that aldermen did not negotiate with Hosey and went along with terms Hosey drafted in his own best interest. In Hosey’s contract, the town will pay for him to get his master’s degree in public administration, and his salary is a lump sum of $87,000 a year, Moore said.

After his comments during the board comment time, audience members applauded Moore.

Other aldermen said they stand behind hiring Hosey and argued that they did negotiate his contract.

Speaking last, Mayor Mike Mahaley said he is proud of hiring Hosey. He added that although residents have insulted him and his family, he will continue to be professional.

“I’m going to act like a mayor, you understand?” Mahaley said. “And I’m going to say what’s on my mind. I am proud of hiring Roger Hosey. I think he’s an outstanding person.”

Mahaley said both Hosey and Isenhour brought him a paper to authorize the SBI probe. He said they had a good idea what was going on for four or five months.

“Believe what you want,” he said. “A lot of you don’t want to believe the truth. You’ve shown that for the last seven or eight months by your actions.”

Moore interjected to say he was the one who tipped off the board and the police about the possible embezzlement.

Things became heated between Mahaley and Moore.

“You’re the most incompetent mayor Landis has ever had,” Moore said.

“You are definitely the most unethical, smart mouth, smart ass,” Mahaley responded.

Some in the audience spoke about Mahaley’s “professionalism.”

Several in the audience spoke during the public-comment period to agree with Moore about the lack of transparency in appointing Hosey. Joy Drye said the appointment was “as transparent as red mud.”

Moore also spoke during the public-comment period on his role in the SBI investigation. He said he did not sit on information after finding out about the possible wrongdoing on Feb. 1. He said Mahaley needed to sign off on an investigation for Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook.

Moore also told Mahaley he had not run a meeting since becoming mayor and relied on Linn. He said Mahaley was mayor when Linn was appointed manager and did not put checks and balances in place to prevent wrongdoing.

Mahaley responded by saying that the first four years he was mayor, not a nickel was stolen.

Hosey addressed comments about the lack of transparency in his hiring and the power he holds. He said there is a false assumption that he has more power but serving as police chief and town manager, he does not gain because the manager would have overseen the police chief.

Although Hosey doesn’t live in Landis, he called it “his town” and said no one loves Landis more than he does. Hosey said he wants to be fair to everyone in town and give them the respect they deserve, from aldermen and town employees to residents.

He asked residents to give him a chance to earn their trust.

Other business:

• The board approved a stormwater control, access easement and maintenance agreement with Teramore Development for a Dollar General store. It also entered into a 90-day bond agreement for $44,914 so that the store can be completed.

• The board approved a budget amendment for $834,000 in unanticipated income. Of that, $727,000 will go into the fund balance to give the account a $1.3 million balance. The remainder will go into other funds for office improvements, a leaf machine, a software system for water customers to monitor their usage and more.

• Brandon Linn, the deputy town manager, told the board Landis was not selected to receive the PARTF grant for Passive Park.