Canton’s City Manager Wood resigns position
by Joshua Sharpe
January 03, 2014 11:42 PM | 4098 views | 14 14 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The new Canton City Council moved quickly Thursday night to accept City manager Scott Wood’s sudden resignation and give him six months’ severance pay, even though his contract only required he be paid if he was terminated.

The council, which welcomed three recently elected members at the start of the meeting, voted 5-1 to accept Wood’s resignation without any conversation or questions asked by any member of the council except Councilman Hooky Huffman, the lone dissenter to the move.

Huffman, who is starting his third year of his first term in office, said Friday he opposed accepting the resignation because Wood was told to quit by Mayor Gene Hobgood, who has sometimes been at odds with the city manager.

“It is Chicago-style, Washington-style type of government that he’s trying to run,” said Huffman, who has also had his differences with the mayor. “It’s a travesty. (People) don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, you just don’t know.”

Hobgood declined to confirm or deny Friday if Wood was asked to quit.

“That ought to tell you something,” the mayor said. He added he didn’t think anyone would be served by going into the details of the matter.

Wood could not be reached for comment Friday, but he wrote in his letter of resignation that he wasn’t “angry” with anyone. He also asked for the severance pay. After Wood’s resignation, which was effective immediately, Chief Financial Officer Nathan Ingram will take over as acting city manager for up to two weeks as Canton decides how to move forward.

As part of Wood’s resignation, he will receive six months of severance pay, which is more than $77,000, according to the city.

Wood’s contract signed in October 2009 states he is entitled to six months of pay in the event that his contract is terminated by the city “without cause.” If he resigns, the contract states he gets no severance.

Hobgood declined to go into much detail about when or how the agreement was made to pay Wood severance, even though his contract didn’t technically require it if he resigned.

“I think the bottom line is we wanted to move in a different direction and we weren’t out to destroy anybody or anything like that,” he said. “There was a lot of talk and discussion even before the campaign and so forth. I think people had an idea, and I think Mr. Wood anticipated that as well.”

After the meeting Thursday night, the mayor said Wood had turned his letter of resignation in about 10 minutes before the meeting.

When Councilman Glen Cummins brought the resignation letter before the council to accept, Huffman said he hadn’t even seen it.

“Did he give a reason for his resignation?”

Huffman, clearly frustrated, asked the council Thursday night. “It’s open for discussion. Who accepted his resignation? Where is it? I don’t see it.”

Hobgood handed him a copy and, less than 60 seconds after Cummins announced that Wood had turned in his resignation, the council voted to accept, with Huffman voting emphatically, “No.”

New council members Sandy McGrew and Bill Grant, who were sworn in Thursday night, each said Friday they didn’t exactly know how Wood came to quit. They both said they only found out just before the meeting and were fine with the terms.

But McGrew said that she understood that Hobgood and Wood made an agreement.

New Councilman John R. Rust, who was also sworn in Thursday night, said Friday that he came into the meeting with little knowledge of the situation with Wood.

“I never even read the letter he sent,” Rust said. “He resigned. I didn’t have anything to do with that. I don’t know what happened.”

Rust said he had been an observer of the council for years and remembered the last time Wood found his employment in question in 2011. In April 2011, Wood was placed on six months’ probation after he was pulled over by a Canton Police officer and council members questioned his handling of the situation, along with some other job duties.

“It doesn’t come as a big surprise to me,” Rust said. “We’ll just move on.”

Seated Councilman Jack Goodwin also said the city is moving on, though he wasn’t clear on why Wood resigned.

“I really hate to lose him,” Goodwin said Friday, adding that he didn’t have a problem with paying Wood severance. “I think he was an excellent city manager. If he wants to resign then that’s his prerogative.”

For Cummins, accepting Wood’s resignation and the severance pay that went along with it was the “easiest, quietest” way to address the issue.

“I may have had a different viewpoint of how to handle it, but I chose to accept what was presented, because I think it is best for the city to get past that chapter in the book,” Cummins said Friday. “I just think for the city’s benefit we need to move forward. The fact of the matter is he has resigned. Let’s move ahead.”

In Wood’s letter of resignation, he stated that he felt conflicted about quitting, but he wasn’t upset.

“This is a great community and I have been privileged to live and work here for the past four years,” Wood wrote. “I am not angry with anyone and in many ways hate that this time has come, but the truth of the matter is that from time to time, new and fresh perspectives are needed in various positions…”

Comments
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DoneDeal
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January 08, 2014
Well, this idle discussion is nice. But, it is a done deal! Jump on the train! The rest of us are moving forward with a bigger, better, brighter, and nicer Canton.
Bob Jones
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January 09, 2014
Wood's bad decisions came back to haunt him. These new council people should remember this lesson. Starting off by unnecessarily blowing 77k just to placate their mayor's desire for revenge does not bode well for the city's future; or their political careers.
Bob Jones
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January 08, 2014
Burdenofproof your argument makes sense on the surface which is exactly what these clowns are banking on. Their immoral backroom deal includes throwing away $77,000 unnecessarily. The guy's contract does not require any compensation if he quits - which he did. The Mayor's new lapdogs got rid of the guy just because Boss Hogg didn't like him. This is a preview of the fast and loose behavior to come with the taxpayer's money.
AnotherPersonality
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January 06, 2014
Joe Johnson, Bob Jones, all equal ex-councilman Bill Bryan. You are retired. Stay that way.
Bill Bryan
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January 06, 2014
Seems I have a stalker. Are you guys already missing me? But seriously, please leave me out of this and let me enjoy my retirement in peace. I have no interest in your idle speculations or your scandals.
AnotherPersonality
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January 07, 2014
Well thanks for confirming that you are these folks. No one else reads this! Enjoy your retirement.
Bob Jones
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January 05, 2014
This quote from this article says it all: "The council, which welcomed three recently elected members at the start of the meeting, voted 5-1 to accept Wood’s resignation without any conversation or questions asked by any member of the council except Councilman Hooky Huffman, the lone dissenter to the move."

No discussion was necessary because these clownish lapdogs had received their marching orders. This was clearly a back room, illegally arranged deal done before the meeting. Boss Hogg is back!

Jeanette S
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January 05, 2014
Oh C. Citizen,

There you go again. Funny how things change when the shoe is on the other foot. From day one, Scott Wood intentionally became a divisive force between the mayor and council. Talk about a power grab. I'm sure he did a lot of things right, but we all know some of the things he did wrong. His tenure brought conflict and shame to Canton due to mishandled personnel and a long list of lawsuits. Plus, just ask some of the city employees, especially the females about Wood's integrity and character. Someone very close to me works at City Hall, and I have been appalled by her stories of his remarks and behavior. We reelected Mayor Hobgood to lead our city, and if we are not happy with the way things go in the next two years, we can fire him. That is how the process works. The city manager works at the pleasure of the Mayor and Council and can be removed at any time without cause. It seems to me there was plenty of cause to remove him, but at least the city honored his severance and gave him a honorable way out. After his record of insubordination and back room deals with the prior council and department head buddies, he deserved a lot less. The citizens voted for a more positive way forward, and this event gives us the best chance of succeeding. How about cheering our mayor and council on to achieve what's best for the city instead of your continued naysaying and bitterness? Do your research. It is typical for city management to change with sweeping elections, and Canton is no different. It will be interesting to see if we can replace Scott Wood with a worthy manager for a lot less money, not to mention his prima donna perks. I, for one, look forward to the changes and believe Canton's best days are yet to come. Congratulations to the new council members and best luck for sound and decisive leadership. For now, it's nice to be out of the "woods."
Citizens of Canton
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January 06, 2014
Ms. Jeanette, surely you recognize that it's most difficult to discuss unsubstantiated claims of wrong doing. However, although many of your assertions are wholly unfounded, but seemingly sincere, it warrants reviewing your posting line-by-line and then responding to each of your comments, in order.

You claimed that Scott Wood became a "divisive force between the Mayor and Council." How so? If Five of the Six past Council Members routinely voted against Mayor Hobgood's agenda, all but Councilman Glen Cummins, it would seem as though the vast majority of the past Council Members routinely supported Wood, and they him.

You claimed that Wood's "tenure brought conflict and shame to Canton due to mishandled personnel and a long list of lawsuits." Obviously, you're alluding to the matter involving Assistant Police Chief Todd VandeZande. While VandeZande's name is longer than most, that hardly qualifies it as forming the claim of a "long list of lawsuits."

Your assertion that Wood's integrity and character in regards to his behavior around the female employees at City Hall is the most offensive charge that anyone can level without substantiation against a male who occupies a supervisory position. If you know "things," about Wood that can be confirmed, they should be brought forth for the benefit of the aggrieved.

Jeanette, while you are correct when you claim that the City Manager "works at the pleasure of the Mayor and Council," Mayor Hobgood's decision to force Wood's resignation - before the new Council Memebrs took their Oath of office - is unsettling in that it infers that the decision to fire Wood was based on Mayor Hobgood's perception alone, rather than on the opinion of the Council Members, half of whom were not even yet able to be considered "brand new" due to them having not yet been sworn into to serve the City and its Citizens. The Mayor is but One of Seven Memebers of the City Council, and in reality, he is the least important person being that his role is solely to break any ties that may exist should the Council's vote end in a tie.

You charge that Wood had a "record of insubordination and back room deals with the prior council and department head buddies." Please identify what any of these acts of insubordination or back room deals might have been. To help your memory, the prior Council Members consisted of Amelia Rose, Pat Tanner, Bill Bryan, John Beresford, Jack Goodwin, and Hookey Huffman. Which one of those Six Council Members were involved in a "back room deal" with Wood?

Jeannette, your assertion that I appear to be "bitter and a naysayer" is as unfounded as virtually everything else you declared in your earlier note. As a long-term Citizen of Canton, I have a strong desire for our City to be viewed favorably by all. Historically, the divided nature that existed between the majority of the Council Members and the Mayor was most unseemly and embarrassing to observe. However, just because the Mayor has now been afforded the opportunity to be surrounded by a voting majority of "yes men" will not ensure that the decisions that are subsequently enacted by the Canton City Council will be positive ones for the City as a whole.

Bob Jones
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January 07, 2014
You both have some interesting points and I stand corrected. Because the backroom deal was done before the swearing in, it was probably technically legal. Legal - yes; moral - no. And the hope that McGrew and Grant would think for themselves is gone. Or were they just naïve and blindsided by Rust (CM in waiting), Cummins & Hobgood? Stay tuned.
BurdenofProof
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January 07, 2014
How can anyone say how any of the council members "would have voted"? It never came to vote, and I am confused as to how the City could reject a letter of resignation. If the man wanted to leave, then he was leaving. That is that. I am not sure why they voted to accept of reject the letter in the first place. But if someone wants to leave, he does not need to stay around. Even Goodwin figured that one out. I would say that no one can prove any of these conspiracy theories. We can only go on the facts. Mr. Wood tendered a letter of resignation. Good luck to him.
Citizens of Canton
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January 08, 2014
To BurdenofProof:

Here is what Canton's Mayor, Gene Hobgood, stated to the Press about the Resignation Letter he was allegedly offered by City Manager Scott Wood, of course without any undue pressure being applied to Wood by the Mayor himself:

“Just as an example, and I’m not saying anything like this was the case, had he been terminated without cause, he would have gotten that anyway. I’m not saying he was threatened or anything else, I’m just saying that he would have been entitled to that,” Hobgood said regarding the severance.

The Mayor also stated that he did not want to comment on whether or not there were any conversations with Wood about the possibility of him being terminated without cause.

The question one must now ask is this: "Why would the Mayor not make that simple, straight-forward declaration to the Press if it were not a legitimate accusation?"

That's a pretty obvious question for the Mayor (or you) to answer.

Now tell me, honestly, do the Mayor's own words sound like they're being spoken by a person who's being direct and honest when defining to the Press what took place? Or instead, do they smack of being spoken by a Politician who is parsing his words very, very carefully so as to try and protect himself from being caught in a deception that might demonstrate him to be putting his personal feelings about gaining revenge over doing what is for the good of the City, a decision which if exposed could irrevocably damage the Mayor's reputation and un-track his political future?

Tell me, do the following words ring a bell with you? "What I said was, 'You can keep your healthcare insurance policy - unless it uhhh, unless it was changed after the law was implemented.'"

Citizens of Canton
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January 04, 2014
The forced "resignation" of Canton's City Manager, Scott Wood, was nothing less than a back stabbing performed by Mayor Gene Hobgood and his three new puppets on the City Council - Grant, McGrew, and Rust - in which Hobgood threatened to fire Wood ("now that he had the votes to do so").

In the spirit of honesty, integrity, and transparency, a matter as important as to who is charged with overseeing the management of the City should be addressed openly and allow for public discussion - not purposefully hidden from view with an attempt to quickly brush it underneath the rug from public view and comment purposes of expediency.

Having a person in Washington, D.C. who perceives himself to be King is enough; we surely don't need another person like that in Canton, too.
Mrs K
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January 04, 2014
I wish the Mayor of Canton and Waleska take some tips from the Mayor of Woodstock and try to develope these areas.
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