Wagener councilman accused of harassing mayor
The Aiken County Sheriff's Office is investigating a case of alleged harassment against Wagener Mayor Michael Miller by a town councilman.
The incident was reported just after 8 a.m. on Thursday, according to a sheriff's report. Miller and Town Councilman Joey Black were on scene when deputies arrived.
The dispute was over a paycheck Black believed he was owed for his service as a councilman, the report stated. Miller told deputies Black placed a notice of his resignation from the Town Council on his Facebook page and has not attended a Council meeting since October.
“ ... It is his (Miller's) opinion that the subject is no longer on council and not entitled to pay,” the report stated.
Black reported he has not given Miller an official letter of resignation and is still on Council, police said.
Black lost to Miller in the last mayoral election and has since been “harassing” Miller and members of the Wagener Police Department through social media postings, Miller told deputies. Additionally, Black has allegedly made the comment “that he is always within arm's reach of a gun,” although he was not armed at the time of the incident, police said.
Miller said he feels threatened by Black and that the harassment appears to be “escalating,” the report stated.
He told the Aiken Standard that Black has made numerous verbal resignations from Town Council and has posted about it on Facebook.
Eric Budds, deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, said the association has been in communication with Town of Wagener officials in the last 10 days.
“What they had indicated to us was that this Council member had made a statement verbally that he was resigning, and later instructed them not to pay him because he had resigned,” Budds said. The association recommended that the town send a letter to Black stating that he has tendered a resignation and requesting a response.
“We also advised them to make sure that their town attorney would agree with our recommendation,” he said.
Miller said such a letter has been drafted but not yet sent.
“Other complications have arisen since talking with them,” he said. “We have confirmed that the resignation has been accepted, as there have been several contacts by him between the time we spoke to them and now.”
Budds said there is no state statute mandating attendance at council meetings.
Miller said the town is looking into whether or not it has requirements for Council attendance.
“We are currently going through the ordinance book and our procedure books. They are old and extensive,” he said. “This is a unique and slow situation.”
Black has served on Council for two years. He could not be reached for comment for this story.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.