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Chairman may not move out
Conflict over large office seen as 'just a gesture'
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Forsyth County News

Charles Laughinghouse is supposed to be out of his office by Saturday.

But whether the chairman of the county commission actually moves -- or if his fellow commissioners plan to enforce the eviction -- remains to be seen.

While the county attorney said the board's 3-2 vote last month carries weight, at least one commissioner said the action was symbolic.

"It is enforceable," said County Attorney Ken Jarrrard. "The board of commissioners is in control of county property. They have the power over physical space."

Asked if he planned to vacate the office, the largest in the county administration building, Laughinghouse declined to comment.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to Doug [Derrer] about it," he said. "I'm going to let him handle it."

Interim county manager Doug Derrer could not be reached for comment Thursday.

It could not be determined if Derrer would move into Laughinghouse's office, which the board wants to reserve for the county manager.

Commissioner Linda Ledbetter, who voted for the measure, said she did not think Laughinghouse would go through with it.

"He knows he can get his office back in January with the new board," Ledbetter said. "If he decides not to move his stuff out of there, that's fine. It was just a gesture to show him that we could."

Commissioner David Richard made the motion Oct. 28, but did not specify where Laughinghouse would have to move.

The terms of Richard and Ledbetter end in January. The third vote, Brian Tam, won a second term in the July 15 Republican primary.

Jim Boff succeeds Ledbetter, who chose not to seek re-election, while Patrick Bell will replace Richard.

Ledbetter said she did not see herself and the other two commissioners pushing Laughinghouse out.

"It wouldn't come to that," she said. "We wouldn't go after him and force him to do a thing like that ... it was a gesture for all the mean things he's done to me."

Laughinghouse, who is not up for re-election until 2010, agreed the move to evict him came down to personal issues.

"You have to ask yourself why Mr. Tam, Ms. Ledbetter and Mr. Richard waited until the end of their term to do this," he said.

Richard, who lost to Bell in July, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Clouding the issue, the county fired its manager in September.

Derrer, the former deputy county manager, is filling the post on an interim basis after the departure of Rhonda Poston-O'Connor.