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Hope Mills board votes 'no confidence' in Commissioner Tonzie Collins
[March 03, 2009]

Hope Mills board votes 'no confidence' in Commissioner Tonzie Collins

(Fayetteville Observer, The (Fayetteville, NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mar. 3--HOPE MILLS -- Commissioner Tonzie Collins received a vote of no confidence from his fellow members at Monday's Hope Mills Board of Commissioners meeting.

Commissioners Eddie Maynor, Jackie Warner, Bob Gorman and Doris Luther voted 4-0 for the motion.

The vote came after Collins was at the center of a $150,000 settlement the town's insurance company paid to a former employee who accused Collins of harassing her and establishing a hostile work environment during her two years of employment with the town.

The complaint by Kimberly Lockamy, the town's former human resources manager, included an allegation that Collins almost ran over her in the parking lot behind Town Hall in September.

The settlement was reached in December and announced at the Feb. 2 board meeting.

Maynor made the motion for the vote of no confidence, saying he was spurred to action by numerous complaints and phone calls from town residents concerned about the accusations and the settlement. Warner seconded the motion.

"It is not a personal decision," Maynor said. "It is an obligation to you, the citizens of the town, to take some kind of action." During discussion on the motion, Collins denied the allegations against him.

"I deny any and all allegations made against me personally," Collins read from a statement. "I have never threatened or attempted to assault any town employee.

"The allegation against me is totally false," Collins said later. "It was never filed with any authority; not Hope Mills Police, not the sheriff's department -- nobody.

"It was never investigated. It was never substantiated. I have never been interviewed by anyone concerning it. Everyone involved in the settlement knows my name was only one of many listed." He said he felt that he had been treated unfairly in the matter, with all of the focus on him.

"I am not going to point fingers, but I am tired of being singled out as if I was responsible for her claim and settlement," he said.

Collins said he would "most definitely" seek re-election in the fall.

Warner asked that the town establish a code of ethics for the town board and mayor. She said many other municipal boards have established a code of ethics for their board members, and such a code of ethics would allow a board to better act in future situations.

Gorman said after the meeting that he would expect the board to take similar action against any board member if he or she acted inappropriately. He said his vote was not based solely on the latest allegations against Collins but several events during Collins' service on the board. He would not offer other specifics, saying he had shared his reasons with Collins earlier in the day.

Luther said that board members must realize their actions are more visible because of the positions they hold.

"We all live in glass houses, and we have to be mindful of that," she said.

During the meeting, Maynor said he considered asking for Collins to resign from the board but decided to respect the wishes of the 600-plus voters who elected Collins to the board for a second term in 2007.

After the meeting, Maynor said he decided not to ask for Collins to resign at this time because he knew Collins would not resign. The next action the board could have considered would be to vote to remove Collins from the board, and Maynor said he wanted to avoid further embarrassment to the town.

He said he hoped people were satisfied with the action the board had taken. He stressed that he did not rule out further action if required for future incidents, but that he thought this was the best move for now.

Warner said that was one of the main reasons she was seeking the establishment of a code of ethics. She said it would give the board a direction to follow should the board have to take similar action in the future against a board member.

Lowe's site approved The board unanimously approved a site plan for a new Lowe's at the intersection of Main and Butler streets.

The home improvement company's plans drew some complaints last year when residents of the Helendale Mobile Home Park were given short notice to move.

The mobile home park sits on the property where the store is going to be built.

Residents of the mobile home park were notified by the park's owner in August that they had 60 days to move.

State law requires a 180-day notice before a mobile home park owner can convert the property for another use.

The developers for the store had asked the board to remove a requirement for sidewalk construction on Butler Street. Board members, led by Luther, said they would not consider a variance on the sidewalk requirement.

Staff writer Donnie Sewell can be reached at [email protected] or 486-3570.

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