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Town manager Swearingen resigns from Haymarket

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Town manager Swearingen resigns from Haymarket

Haymarket Town Manager Gene Swearingen resigned this week, less than a week after the Haymarket Town Council week voted unanimously to suspend him with pay until Jan. 7, pending the outcome a review of his actions in office.
During a special session of the town council on Thursday, Dec. 13, Mayor David Leake voted to break a 3-3 tie that sent the council into a closed session to discuss the performance of Swearingen, though no one identify the specific problems with the town manager.
When the council members and the mayor returned, councilors voted 6-0 in favor of suspending Swearingen with pay until the council reconvenes at its next regularly scheduled monthly meeting in January.
Vice mayor Jay Tobias, who motioned for the suspension, said it essentially amounted to a 2.5-to-3-week vacation for Swearginen but the town manager quit anyway.
Swearingen sent an e-mail to Leake on Tuesday, Dec. 18 announcing his resignation but wrote, "Effective today, December 19, 2012" instead of Dec. 18.
"Working for the town has been a wonderful experience and I wish nothing but the best for the town, its residents and businesses," wrote Swearingen. "Thank you and the Town Council for your support."
Tobias explained his motion by saying during an interview that he didn't think the council would support suspending the town manager without pay.
Town staffers, the mayor and council members instead are picking up the slack from the town manager's office, with Leake and Tobias approving town invoices.
"I can just assure (residents) that the town is just running the same as if Gene was on vacation," said Leake, later adding, "I don't see any service issues or perceived service issues over the next three weeks."
On Monday, taxpayers found out they would be footing the bill for another special session of council called for by Leake.
It was set for this Thursday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. but canceled following Swearingen's resignation.
While Leake said he could only confirm that the point of the council meeting was to discuss "personnel" issues, he guessed that the cost of a special session runs between $1,200 to $1,500, depending on the town attorney's fees, the town clerk's salary and pay for council members.
"All I know is it was necessary," said Leake on Monday, refusing to offer any other details.
He did confirm that he intended to support the council entering into closed session at that meeting.
When the council enters into closed "executive" sessions, the public is not privy to what is being discussed behind closed doors.
Council members vote afterward on whether the intended purpose of the session was the only topic or topics discussed during the meeting.
Both Leake and Tobias declined to address the issues faced by Swearingen during separate phone interviews.
"I think everybody on the council sees the urgency of the issue," said Tobias.
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