If Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner truly believed holding job interviews in a public forum was the key to being transparent, he now knows better.
The meeting fell apart seconds after it began.
Gardner’s effort to parade all five candidates for the administrator job before an audience of politically charged activists quickly turned into political theater with jeers and shouts of “shame!”
Councilman Al Allen joined in the fray, shouting back at the audience that council was trying to pull a fast one over the public by moving to executive session.
We understand many activists truly believe it is their right to participate in the hiring of the new county administrator.
But interviewing county employees in a public arena is a bad precedent.
Ask yourself how you would perform if every job interview you endured was conducted in front of the entire company, along with folks on the street who held a grudge against the managers questioning you?
When politics is involved, the situation is even more volatile.
Voters elect the council, and it’s up to the council to hire their administrator to carry out their directives to run the county government.
Technically, the county administrator does not report to the public, that position reports directly to council.
That’s not to say voters should be left in the dark.
We have every right to see the administrator’s contact, and know all of the salary and benefits that go with the position.
The council is responsible to the voters by debating their administrator choices in public, and voting in public.
One lawyer interviewed by many in the media offered his opinion the council broke the law by voting to go into executive session because the official meeting agenda called for public interviews.
We have a lot of respect for Jay Bender and his knowledge of open meeting laws, but we disagree with him in this case.
The agenda is set by the chairman, and council does not get a say in the matter until the actual meeting when they are called on to approve the agenda.
Councilman Johnny Vaught says Gardner and council agreed to hold the interviews in executive session a week ago, but Gardner changed the plan at the last minute without consulting them.
We applaud Gardner for desiring transparency. He might start with his own council.