KEYSER - Following the incident last week in which then-city clerk Brandi Paugh left an executive session in tears, mayor Damon Tillman admitted that he did tell her at one point that he didn't trust her.
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Following the incident last week in which then-city clerk Brandi Paugh left an executive session in tears, mayor Damon Tillman admitted that he did tell her at one point that he didn’t trust her.
The comment came, however, after he became aware that certain members of the previous administration were apparently pumping her for information.
Paugh left her job Aug. 8 - two days before her planned resignation was to take place - following a disagreement with Tillman and the council during an hour-long executive session.
As she left the building, she presented the News Tribune and a friend seated in the audience with a list of complaints and accusations against the new mayor and council.
One of her chief complaints was that the mayor had allegedly told her shortly after taking office that he did not trust her.
She and former co-worker Penny Ashenfelter also claimed that Tillman and city administrator Buck Eagle had taken work from Brandi and given it to some of the other city office employees.
When asked about the accusations, Tillman told the News Tribune that he had originally told Brandi “her job was safe.”
What he and Eagle had done, however, was relieve her of some of her many duties to try to make it easier for her.
“Early on, I could tell there was too much going to that position,” Eagle said. “I was trying to help her.”
Tillman also said that Paugh had been frustrated with trying to share information with Eagle about what his position should entail. He was appointed as city administrator following the resignation of Randy Amtower and when he took office, there were few still in City Hall who could help him learn the job.
“Brandi sat here and cried and said, ‘How can I train you when I haven’t been trained?’” Tillman said, referring to Eagle.
The one issue that apparently led to Paugh’s statement that the mayor didn’t trust her, however, was the interview process for a new city office employee who Paugh thought was to replace her.
Paugh said when she was still in her position that Bonnie Hannas was being interviewed for the position and claimed she had already given her two weeks notice at her previous job because she was told she would get the job - before any official action was ever taken by the council.
Both Tillman and Eagle told the News Tribune, however, that Hannas was only one of several considered for the job, and denied she had been told the job was hers.
“We’ll hire the absolute best person for the job and we’ll do it above board,” Eagle said. “That’s our duty.”
Eagle said it would be his job to conduct the interviews and make a recommendation to the council, adding, “I’ll put people out there for approval that I feel are the best possible people.”
Wednesday, Eagle did indeed recommend Hannas, whom the council approved on a 3-1 vote.
Tillman said he was not nvolved in the interview process at all.
According to Patti Davis, another employee in the city office, Hannas had been the only one interviewed until Paugh left, and then they interviewed some additional people.
She said she did heard Tillman tell Paugh he did not trust her, but it was after he noticed she kept receiving calls from former employee Penny Sanders, former chief of police Karen Shoemaker, and Amtower.
“Her phone was blowing up, and it was them calling,” Davis said.
Davis also said some of the former employees “kept cornering” Paugh in the parking lot to pump her for information.
Davis also said since Paugh’s city clerk job was reconfigured and some of the duties placed on other employees, she is now handling citations, court clerk and tax clerk duties, is floodplain manager, code enforcement supervisor, building permit manager, and in charge of the fuel system and account.