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County rekindles office talk
Staff to relocate ailing chairman
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Forsyth County News

Citing poor health, Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse says he is physically unable to move out of his office despite an order from his colleagues to do so.

But three county commissioners said last week that wasn't a good enough reason, and directed county staff to move Laughinghouse's belongings for him at the next available date.

The initial commission vote last month called for Laughinghouse to vacate his office, the largest in the county administration building, by Nov. 15 to make way for the next county manager.

The three commissioners feel Laughinghouse's office is better suited for the manager, though that position is open.

Commissioner David Richard again made a motion to reinforce their previous action at Tuesday's work session.

"We're more than 10 days past the due date for you to vacate the office," Richard said.

Laughinghouse said he intended to move his belongings on Nov. 15, but there was no office available at that time.

"Since that time," Laughinghouse said, "... I cannot lift, I cannot bend under doctor's directions."

A skeptical Richard asked the chairman when this would "get done."

Laughinghouse responded: "When it gets done. Not one minute sooner."

He added that Interim County Manager Doug Derrer was checking on available offices.

"I believe you've got an open office right now, don't you?" Richard asked Derrer.

Derrer said his former office had, in fact, been vacated "with the exception of a binder or two."

Laughinghouse looked at Richard.

"If you want to get in there and move it, be my guest. I will get you the boxes."

Commissioner Linda Ledbetter told Richard to "just drop it ... they'll just move [Laughinghouse] back Jan. 1 anyway."

Ledbetter has previously said that the addition of two new commissioners, Patrick Bell and Jim Boff, likely will result in the decision being reversed.

The terms of Richard and Ledbetter end in January.

"You're making the point that you're above the rules," Ledbetter told Laughinghouse. "And I'm telling Dave to let it go."

Commissioner Brian Tam said a county manager candidate turned down a job more than two years ago.

"And his primary reason for turning us down was what? The office," Tam said.

The chairman disagreed.

"It was Commissioner Richard's Web site and Commissioner Ledbetter's comments in the newspaper," Laughinghouse said.

"Oh, I take exception to that," Ledbetter shouted.

Richard sighed.

"Apparently, the commissioner is above the will of the board," Richard said. "It sets a very dangerous precedent for future boards. This board directed you to do something."

Commissioner Jim Harrell said Laughinghouse was "incapable of doing that."

Richard then made a motion for the board to direct Derrer to allocate resources to move the chairman to a vacant office.

Tam seconded the motion. It passed 3-2 with Harrell and Laughinghouse opposed.

"It's a shame it has to come to this," Richard said.

To which Laughinghouse said, "It really is, Dave."