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Attorney shuts down back-and-forth between manager, board member

A back-and-forth between Mocksville’s interim town manager and a board member was cut short by the town attorney during the February town board meeting.

Board member Amy Vaughan-Jones, speaking during the time allotted for the board members to say what’s on their minds, said she was “entertained” by claims from interim manager, Lynn Trivette, that she had been bullied via telephone by Vaughan-Jones.

She said reports in the Enterprise Record and on WXII TV on a memo sent by Trivette to board members saying she was taking her name from consideration for the permanent manager’s job put the blame on her, when all she did was ask questions, including one about a letter from the state auditor saying that Mocksville was going to be randomly audited.

“My interest has always been for the best interest of the town,” she said, adding the she and Mayor Will Marklin appear to be in conflict. “At no point did I ever do anything like bullying. I find this very entertaining.

“I’m tired of getting put into the middle. Everything’s Amy’s fault. Clearly, I am not in charge of this board,” Vaughan-Jones said, adding that she had no problems with anything she’s said to Trivette. All of her questions were legitimate, she said.

“The issue is the way you talk to people,” Trivette said. “It’s the way I’m talked to, the way other managers are talked to. That’s why they leave.”

Vaughan-Jones countered that she had caught Trivette in a lie.

That’s when Town Attorney Al Binshoff stepped in, saying the discussions were getting into protected information. “People who willingly violate this are subject to criminal charges and civil complaints,” he said. “Do not conduct a personnel discussion in public.”

While discussions about the conduct or actions of a board member are almost always required to be held in open session, the performance and actions of employees are designed for a closed session.

“I’m very disappointed in the town,” said board member, Eric Southern. “I’ve ‘bout had enough of that and I think this town has, too.”

The discussion came after a report from the town’s auditor, Eddie Carrick, who said the financial position of the town had improved greatly over the previous fiscal year.

He also mentioned the state audit, apparently a contentious phone call from Vaughan-Jones to Trivette.

Trivette said that when Vaughan-Jones called to ask about the audit, she hadn’t had time to read the letter. “You got the same email I did,” she said to Vaughan-Jones. The board member countered that it is Trivette’s job to answer questions from board members.

Vaughan-Jones had said earlier that the audit was a big deal.

Carrick said it was routine, that the state randomly picks towns to conduct financial audits on yearly.

“Lynn ‘bout had a heart attack when she got the letter (about the audit),” Carrick said. “I knew ya’ll wouldn’t have any issues. Ya’ll have got good people with internal controls.”

The mayor asked if the audit was a result of something the town had done. “No,” Carrick said. “It’s just something they do.”