by Paul Bowers
Folly Beach City Council approved longtime city administrator Toni Connor-Rooks' retirement and severance package Tuesday night, but not before a few community members and a city councilman gave Mayor Tim Goodwin an old-fashioned tongue-lashing.
Connor-Rooks, who has served in City Hall for 17 years, is retiring amid controversy. Critics of Goodwin claim that the mayor sought to terminate Connor-Rooks, citing as evidence a January letter signed by Goodwin and addressed to the S.C. Attorney General asking whether the mayor had authority to fire certain city employees. But City Councilwoman Dale Stuckey insists she was the author of that letter, and she said at last night's council meeting that the question was purely hypothetical.
The meeting became especially heated when Goodwin asked for councilmembers' comments on a resolution to approve Connor-Rooks' retirement and severance package. Councilman and mayor pro tem Eddie Ellis launched into a 10-minute tirade about Goodwin's management of city affairs and personnel matters. Ellis capped off his speech with a direct confrontation with the mayor, as follows:
Goodwin: "Any other comments?"
Ellis: "Yeah, you have failed as a mayor. You have failed miserably. [Applause from audience] And I'll tell you what: You're the boss of the city landscaping company — I ain't working for you. I wouldn't even poop in your yard if I was a dog."
Goodwin: "Well, good."
Ellis: "And I'm running next spring, and I'm gonna beat you!"
Goodwin: "Now that you're finished politicking, Eddie, thank you very much."
Connor-Rooks, who was visibly upset at Tuesday's council meeting, declined to give comment afterward, but she said during the meeting, "I cannot work under present circumstances."
Goodwin said after the meeting that the retirement package was presented to him by Connor-Rooks' attorney. Asked if there was any animosity between him and Connor-Rooks, he replied, "Not from my side of the story. Like I said, all I ever asked anybody to do is show up and do the job they were hired to do."