Anderson County Council
By Stan Welch
Following a special called meeting of the Anderson County Council Monday, District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd was challenged by a reporter for The Journal when she sought to unofficially amend the agenda to accommodate a private meeting with two other members of the Council as well as the County Attorney.
The special called meeting, held at the Civic Center just prior to an announcement of a major economic development by Governor Nikki Haley, was to give second reading approval of a set of incentives designed to attract even more jobs to the county.
After voting to approve the incentives, Council prepared to adjourn, when Floyd interrupted and asked that Chairman Crowder, Vice Chairman Dunn and County Attorney Mike Pitts remain for a “private meeting.”
No official motion to amend the agenda was actually made, and the four other Council members left the conference room after adjourning.
The reporter for The Journal, as well as one for the Anderson Independent Mail, remained in the room.
Floyd turned to The Journal reporter and said, “This is a private meeting. I’d like you to leave.” He refused, explaining that the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, the state law defining the rules of open meetings, did not allow for such an action.
“You are trying to ignore the agenda of a special called meeting, which by law is called for one specific purpose. On top of that, you want to send most of the Council out so you can have a private meeting with the rest of them. You don’t even have a quorum in the room anymore, so there is no meeting. I am not leaving the room, Ms. Floyd. This is highly improper.”
She became angry and told the reporter he could stay “as long as you want to.” He explained again that he certainly could; but that his authority came from the FOIA and not her permission.
She then proceeded to take Crowder, Dunn and Pitts to task over a vote at the previous week’s Council meeting. In asking for the vote, Crowder mistakenly asked for the ayes; he then asked for the abstentions before asking for the nays. Neither he nor Pitts caught the error when it happened. The order of the vote would normally be ayes, nays, then abstentions, if any.
Floyd actually voted nay but was recorded as an abstention. When she challenged that, Chairman Crowder, in the latest in a series of clashes between the two, began using a roll call vote for the remainder of the evening, polling each member individually.
Floyd complained that such a tactic made her look bad and was unfair to her. She chastised Crowder and Dunn and suggested that attorney Pitts brush up on Roberts’ Rules of Order, if he didn’t know them. She further stated that she was being abused and harassed by the actions of the chairman and the council and demanded that it stop. “This is the worst I have been treated since Mr. Moore was the chairman, and I don’t like it.”
Floyd frequently complains that she is denied information other Council members receive and frequently challenges the minutes of previous meetings, claiming that she is deliberately misquoted. She also often demands the floor in violation of the rules of order and has recently been ruled out of order by Crowder, leading to tension between the two.
After once more accosting the reporter, she proceeded to leave before the Governor’s arrival.