For some time now, this newspaper group has been reporting on issues in one of our county’s major municipalities that have us deeply concerned.
We have wanted the stories to speak for themselves, but we feel it is time to share our thoughts and opinions on what is going on in that city.
Ask yourself this question - what would you do if your chief elected official was accused of doing the following:
- Allegedly assaulting a city employee and then attempting to demote that employee from her position.
- Firing other city employees who witnessed or had knowledge of the alleged assault.
- Directing that software be placed on seven selected employees’ computers that can track every stroke logged and sending that data (which includes personnel files, bank records and medical information) to a possibly insecure, off-site storage system.
- Using city funds dedicated to the city’s police department to instead investigate former employees, council members, former elected officials and private citizens.
- Publicly stating that they had nothing to do with directing said investigation when instant message and emails eventually showed that statement to be false.
- Involving the city in at least three legal claims that could likely lead to litigation or large settlements.
- Informing the media that it can only communicate with the official through emailing a member of their staff.
- Hiring an outside attorney with unknown funding sources to threaten council members and the media with potential lawsuits.
- Allowing city contracts to expire before letting the city council to weigh in, in a move that could cost the city a potential $115,000-plus.
- Espousing transparency as a key value of their administration but decrying leaks of information and not explaining the omission of documents from filed public records requests.
- Allowing the use of city resources for a private event that may have violated state law and city protocol.
- Threatening the media with loss of city legal ads because of the reporting done by the newspaper.
If your mayor were accused of only a few of these things, wouldn’t it give you pause?
To have one elected official be accused or implicated in all of these matters seems surprising, yet that’s exactly where this year ends with regards to the tenure of Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson.
We feel residents must ask themselves what they’re willing to accept from their leader and what possible changes may need to be made.
In 2016, Fairhope residents voted for change, but is this the sort of change they actually wanted?
Over the last year, we have presented you with the information. That’s our job.
As readers and informed citizens, it is your responsibility to move forward with that information and either demand change and accountability, or continue to allow such things to happen.
What will you decide to do?