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Former zoning officer sues Shepherdstown

June 06, 2008|By DAVID McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. -- Shepherdstown's former zoning officer, who was dismissed from his position and who this week lost his bid to become mayor, has filed civil action against the town and Mayor Lance Dom over his termination, according to court records.

John E. Mathews III alleges in the case filed May 30 in Jefferson County Circuit Court that the town allowed Mayor Lance Dom to decide on his own and without further authority to dismiss Mathews from his job.

The action was in violation of the town's charter, Mathews alleges.

As a result, Mathews alleges that he was denied his right guaranteed in state law to have public deliberations of the complaint against him.

Mathews also alleged the town does not have rules by which the date, time and agenda of meetings are to be made available to the public and news media, and alleged that Dom violated the open government proceedings act.

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In the case, filed by Martinsburg, W.Va., attorney David Hammer, Mathews is asking for various rulings, including that the town's actions against him be annulled and that he be awarded attorney's fees.

It is not clear whether Mathews is seeking to have his job back. Mathews declined comment Thursday afternoon.

Dom defended his actions Thursday. Dom said he consulted with the town's attorney "all the way" and cooperated with Mathews in how the issue was aired before the council.

"It was done as publicly as it could be," Dom said.

Mathews was dismissed from his zoning officer position after Dom said there had been problems with Mathews acting in a condescending and arrogant manner in town hall.

Dom said the situation caused employees at the town hall building on King Street to be angry and fearful, and added that one employee brought mace to work.

On Tuesday, Mathews lost in the race for mayor after collecting 68 votes compared to 175 for Shepherdstown Town Council member Jim Auxer.

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