Former Summerville town administrator’s personnel file reveals long rift with council member

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Issues existed for months between Summerville’s former town administrator and the town’s council members and mayor before Rebecca Vance was fired from her job, according to her personnel file.

On March 11, 2021, Vance had the town’s human resources director place nearly 20 emails and a text message from councilmember Bill McIntosh in her personnel file because she felt his messages were threatening and hostile towards her.

“I feel that his behavior has become more erratic and more focused on me,” Vance wrote. “I would like his correspondence to be placed in my official personnel file should a question about my employment be brought to Council by the above-mentioned [McIntosh].”

Vance was fired without cause from her role as the town’s administrator on June 19.

The emails from McIntosh showed there may have been a power struggle between Vance and the town’s council members and mayor.

“This is not a bill versus Rebecca issue,” McIntosh wrote in one message. “This is an issue of staff not understanding the role of mayor and council in our form of government.”

Council members seemed to be wanting more communication from the town’s staff regarding issues brought to light by community members.

McIntosh wrote that Vance had been hired to fix this but said he believed the problem was getting worse.

“Going back 10-12 months, you and I had lengthy conversations about our expectation for you to be on a team with Council,” McIntosh wrote. “The expectation was that you would be communicating on a near-daily basis with Council.”

Then, a text message from March 20 that also appeared to be from McIntosh stated “I think you can be a hell of Administrator for Council, but I don’t think that’s what you want. I think you want to be a City manager that also manages Council. That’s never going to happen. Council runs the Town, the Administrator assists Council. I just don’t think that you want that. If I am wrong, prove me wrong.”

In a statement, McIntosh said he believed his written communications with Vance spoke for themselves, and he stood by them.

“These communications - some of which were directed to her and copied to all of Council and others of which were directed to Council and courtesy-copied to her - were attempts to obtain information from her and other staff which was vital to all of Council. The information being sought was necessary for us to represent our constituents,” McIntosh’s statement read. “In one instance - on 3/2/21 - my communication to all of Council was intended to prevent us from improperly going into executive session in violation of the Open Meetings Act by insisting we discuss problems with staff communications publicly and in open session as required by law. Our former administrator was copied on this communication as a professional courtesy, but she apparently took some offense to it. As it happens, Council did discuss problems with staff communications publicly and in open session, and as a result adopted a resolution instructing the former administrator and other senior managers to be much more forthcoming with sharing information with the Mayor and Council so we could share with our constituents. I can see no rational reason for our former administrator to have found communication requesting more and better information be provided to Mayor and Council to be hostile or threatening. In our “Council” form of government, it is quite literally the job description of an administrator to “assist Council” in our administering of town government. In this instance, Council needed her assistance in ensuring that we were receiving from staff information vital to representing our constituents and to our roles under our form of government.”

Vance’s attorney has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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