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County employee pleads with board to take action against Commissioner Asha Kenney

DEB NEWLIN, Carroll County Human Resources Generalist, reads her four-page statement detailing alleged harassment of county employees, including herself, by Commissioner Asha Kenney at the June 4 County Commission meeting. Newlin was accompanied by about 25 current and former county employees. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
June 12, 2014
OSSIPEE — Carroll County Human Resources Generalist Deb Newlin held a captive audience at the June 4 commissioner's meeting. Surrounded by about 25 current and former employees, Newlin addressed the board and read a four-page statement (see sidebar) in which she claimed that Kenney has, for two years, "repeatedly attacked the honesty, ethics, education, and professionalism" of County employees and administrators. Newlin pled with Commissioners David Sorensen and David Babson for "action and relief."

Newlin spelled out specific examples in an attempt to validate her accusations against Kenney. The examples ranged from Kenney being upset because Newlin wouldn't let her access personnel files to the bizarre accusation by Kenney that Newlin's daughter was a prostitute.

Babson has, on several occasions, asked Kenney to resign. In response to Newlin's statement he said, "As most of you folks know I have been here a year and a half now. I have listened to Mrs. Kenney berate, badger, harass all types of employees here. I wasn't here four weeks and she had a letter in the paper I am incompetent and negligent with never producing any proof. I have listened to her attacks on individuals. But today's testimony…what kind of person goes around saying 'your daughter's a prostitute?...You [Kenney] are so far over the edge you should be embarrassed to even be sitting here," said Babson.

Sorensen said the commissioners would consult with an attorney then decide what their next course of action would be in response to Newlin's accusations. Babson took a more definitive approach and made the motion that he and Sorensen find money in the commissioner's budget to pay the fee to file the paperwork in Carroll County Superior Court to have Kenney removed from office. Sorensen voted in favor. Kenney voted in opposition, then laughed and asked, "Now what was your motion?"

Sorensen and Babson also voted to censure Kenney from "any future involvement in this board" in case it carries any weight. Kenney fired back and said her fellow commissioners don't have that authority and accused them of abusing their office and making illegal motions.

"Everything you are making for motions is illegal and if you do all these things I will file a lawsuit," threatened Kenney.

Sorensen and Babson were true on their word and did, in fact, file paperwork in superior court following the June 4 meeting. In the court complaint, they complain that Kenney has engaged in "repeated conduct unbecoming of an elected public official, unethical, unprofessional and unrepresentative of the will of the board of county commissioners." In the second complaint they allege she has made "increasing insults, threats, ridicule to employees, vendors, and contactors."

They accuse Kenney of malfeasance in that it is "willful and intentional action that injures a party" and accuse her of continuously and selectively releasing information from non-public sessions.

As of press time, there is no indication that Kenney has filed the lawsuit she threatened.

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