Joe P. Asher
Cumberland Mayor Carl Hatfield has filed another appeal with the Cumberland Valley Regional Board of Ethics appealing the board’s decision to deny his complaint against Cumberland City Council member Charles Raleigh.
According to previous reports, Hatfield filed the original complaint due to statements Raleigh made in the press concerning Hatfield’s performance as mayor.
Documents obtained by the Enterprise show a hearing held on Feb. 24 resulted in a denial of the complaint filed by Hatfield. Hatfield has appealed this decision. Due to this appeal, a full hearing has been ordered by the board. Both Hatfield and Raleigh will have the right to appear, call witnesses, present evidence, testify under oath and have legal counsel at their own expense if they so desire.
In a written statement released to the Enterprise, Hatfield explained his actions are based on city ethics ordinance 272.
“In my opinion, this ordinance pertains to any officer of the city that publicly defames another elected official with information that he knows is not true or false. This represents conduct unbecoming to an elected official,” stated Hatfield.
Hatfield pointed out the ethics board must base decisions on the evidence available to them.
“I have no problem with anyone making public the violations of any elected official who has been placed in a position of public trust, providing they are truthful. The board of ethics can only express their opinion in this matter based upon clear and convincing evidence presented to them,” wrote Hatfield.
According to Hatfield’s statement, city records show his administration has performed properly.
“The city records, which have been maintained since this administration took office, clearly reveal that we have upgraded our productivity levels and overcome serious financial problems during the past 15 months. The records speak for themselves,” said Hatfield.
Hatfield had no additional comment apart from his written statement.
In an interview, Raleigh explained his position concerning the appeal.
“I think it’s gone on long enough,” stated Raleigh. “This wasn’t brought on by me, he (Hatfield) filed the ethics violations, which they found to be no merit to on two other occasions, so I don’t see them overturning this one. I really wish he’d move on to more important things like the citizens rather than me, because it’s not benefiting him any and it’s definitely not helping the people.”
According to Raleigh, the reason for this appeal is personal.
“I hate to say it, I really think it’s just vengeance,” said Raleigh. “I don’t know a delicate way to put it. I feel it’s more personal than anything, and trust me it’s not personal on my part because I’ve just tried to conduct city business for the citizens, that’s what I was elected to do. I’m not trying to go after him personally. If I see he’s doing something wrong I call him out on it and I expect him to do the same to me.”
Raleigh pointed out he has been cleared of these same accusations on two previous occasions.
“This has been proven twice already that there’s nothing wrong, and after talking with the ethics board they’ve only had this happen on one other occasion that they can think of. So that tells you it’s very rare to see a third appeal,” stated Raleigh.
According to Raleigh, this is a freedom of speech issue.
“It basically boils down to the freedom of speech and the whistleblower act. There’s nothing that can be done to me for that. That’s our constitutional God given right to question our public officials. Anytime you can’t question a public official whether it’s me or Carl (Hatfield) or whoever there’s something bad wrong with society.”
The appeal hearing is set for May 18 at 10 a.m. in London.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com