Letter is critical of Pittsboro official

Town manager comes under fire

Staff WriterAugust 17, 2006 

— A Pittsboro Town Board member has sent a letter to the mayor expressing his "great concern and disappointment" with the town manager's job performance.

Commissioner Max Cotten complained that Sam Misenheimer could not be reached by phone or in person at Town Hall on 10 working days since late May.

He also said that the manager failed to place items Cotten wanted to discuss on the agenda for board meetings or placed them under sections that the board does not discuss or vote on.

"I've tried to be open-minded about this, but something about his management style doesn't fly with me," Cotten said in an interview Wednesday.

Cotten also said Misenheimer doesn't always tell the board about meetings he has had with developers and doesn't return residents' phone calls.

Misenheimer declined to comment on Cotten's letter other than to say he works hard at his job. "I work more than 40 hours each week and attend all meetings," he said. "This is not an issue."

Commissioner Pamela Baldwin, who was elected in November, said she supports Misenheimer. "I have every confidence in Sam. I think he's doing a great job," she said Wednesday. She declined to respond to Cotten's letter, calling it a personnel matter.

Cotten, who has been on the town board since 1999, wrote to Mayor Randy Voller last month before learning of Misenheimer's personal financial problems.

Misenheimer filed for bankruptcy in March while serving as interim manager -- his second bankruptcy filing in two years.

Misenheimer, 42, was hired on a permanent basis in May after serving as the interim manager for five months. The board did not know about his bankruptcy filings until a reporter asked about them.

Misenheimer said he did not think the information was relevant to his job.

As town manager, Misenheimer oversees the town's budget. He earns $65,000 a year.

Cotten said that Voller has not responded to his letter. The mayor could not be reached for comment Wednesday but has said he supports Misenheimer.

"Unless a person proves themselves unworthy or problematic to the town, I will give them the opportunity based on the contextual information I have," Voller said in a News & Observer article Aug. 3 about Misenheimer's bankruptcy filings.

The town board discussed Misenheimer in a special closed-session meeting this month after learning about his bankruptcy filings. Cotten said that he did not attend because he had a conflict.

Misenheimer previously resigned under pressure from a city manager position in 1999 after the board expressed concern over his job performance.

According to an article March 23, 1999, in the Greensboro News & Record, the Thomasville City Council told Misenheimer, who had been city manager for three years, that he had to improve or face termination.

"The handwriting's on the wall: We're not happy with your performance," the article quotes council member Marie Culbreth as saying.

Among the Thomasville City Council members' complaints was that Misenheimer did not return phone calls, mailed out agendas late and failed to keep council members informed about city business, according to the article.

Staff writer Leah Friedman can be reached at 932-2002 or leah.friedman@newsobserver.com.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service