The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

August 24, 2007

Mayor won’t leave early; locks ordered changed

RICHWOOD — Mayor Bob Henry Baber has just over a week left to hand out any remaining ceremonial keys to the city he may have.

And as he prepares to leave office, he will find that some of his own city hall keys won’t unlock anything, either.

Baber announced this week he was resigning as mayor to accept a better paying fundraising position at Glenville State College. According to a letter he drafted to city council, his resignation is effective at midnight Sept. 3.

But council members gathered Friday in what was termed an unofficial meeting and asked the mayor to vacate his office immediately, and that he would be paid through Sept. 3.

When Baber rejected the suggestion, Recorder Myles Caldwell, who, under the terms of the city charter, would succeed Baber, said he was ordering all locks at city hall be changed.

“I don’t think you have that power,” Baber told Caldwell.

“Yes, I do,” Caldwell replied. “As recorder, I’m the keeper of the records.” He added it was his job to make sure all records were maintained and preserved.

Caldwell said the mayor could keep the keys to his own office until his resignation was effective, “but anything else, you’ll have to go through the police department. I’m ordering the locks changed this afternoon.”

As the meeting began, Caldwell said council members were “here as a group to discuss a couple of problems.” He did not elaborate, but there was reference later in the meeting to an altercation earlier this week that allegedly involved the mayor.

When the matter was brought up by a resident in attendance, Baber said he would not comment “on an investigation where the facts are in dispute.”

- - -

Baber and Caldwell have been at odds since Baber took office July 1, 2004. Things reached a boiling point in April when the two scuffled at city hall after Caldwell refused to sign Baber’s paycheck, challenging the mayor’s claim that he worked 80 hours over a two-week pay period. Both were charged with misdemeanors.

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