After receiving warnings, followed by lawsuit alleging violations of the law and illegal meetings, Council majority approves policy to have taxpayers pay their legal fees.
In order to carry out the duties of her office, after the Council unlawfully vacated her seat, Mary Shkut would have to file an injunction requiring the majority to recognize her appointment. However, to avoid having taxpayers carry an unnecessary financial burden, Shkut named individual council members, in their individual capacity.
Sometime prior to the August 9 Council meeting, Pollino, Vandenberg & Dispenziere instructed the attorney to write a policy requiring the Village to pay for their legal legal defense and any damages. Measures like this are intended to protect law-abiding civil servants. A policy like this should not be invoked so civil servants can drag out unnecessary lawsuits, for vindictive and political reasons.
Despite the Ethical Concerns Raised, the Majority Approved the Policy
Marvin's Code of Ethics and NC Statutes prevent board members from voting on items that would foreseeably result in a direct or indirect financial benefit to the board member.
On July 22, 2018, Mary Shkut had filed an injunction and lawsuit against Pollino, Vandenberg & Dispenziere. They were cited for knowingly and repeatedly ignoring NC Laws and open meeting procedures, and the injunction required the Council to recognize Shkut's public office, until a court determined otherwise.
Both Epps and Shkut argued a 'conflict of interest' existed, pursuant to NC Statutes and the NC Code of Ethics, prevented Pollino, Vandenberg & Dispenziere from voting on the matter; seeing that all three had just been named in a lawsuit and would benefit directly from
a vote on this policy. Councilman Epps agreed. (2018-08-09 VC Mtg Audio)
Mayor Pollino, Councilors Vandenberg and Dispenziere voted to approve the policy anyway; thereby ensuring Marvin taxpayers would be responsible for a Council member's legal fees and any damages. (Read: Policy RS-2018-08-03.)