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Majority of New Bern City Council vote no on discussing the Mayor's leave of absence

By Jamie Hicks
Published On: May 14 2013 11:41:45 PM CDT
NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

New Bern City Council met for the first time Tuesday night since Mayor Lee Bettis decided to take some time off.

NewsChannel 12 learned last week that he would take a two month leave absence after a DWI charge and a 911 call about a domestic dispute. Over the weekend Bettis said in an email that he was not taking a leave of absence, but that he would not attend several meetings.

Mayor Pro Tem Sabrina Bengel said that the majority of the board would have to be in favor of discussing the mayor's leave of absence and since that didn't happen, the issue would not be on the agenda.

At the beginning of the meeting, Bengel had the board vote again on this item. The vote was two in favor, four against in discussing the mayor at the meeting. 

Aldermen Dana Outlaw and Victor Taylor voted in favor.

Outlaw said this is an issue that needs to be discussed out in the open.

"Everything about this mayor is different. I don't know where to start, I don't know where to stop. I just know for the good of New Bern this man needs to resign from office,” said Outlaw.

Outlaw said it is a violation of oath of office to be absent from a meeting. He said he doesn't think it's fair that the mayor can just decide to take a leave of absence.

Bengel said she doesn't know how long the mayor plans to be gone but said she will carry out his duties until he returns.

“He is absent and the city provides for that in our charter by electing a Mayor Pro Tem and I’m the Mayor ProTem who will step up in the absence of the mayor," she said.