Stewart spoke to council during the public comment time and talked about the SpyGlass audit, council member attendance and leadership and accountability. Stewart also penned a letter to the editor last week titled, “County Council continues to show lack of vision and leadership.”
After Stewart concluded, Wood took issue with Stewart.
“I cannot recall seeing you at a council meeting before or a budget meeting in the 14 years I’ve been on council,” said Wood. Stewart replied, “is that me?” in reference to who Wood was addressing. Woods response was a stern, “I’m talking.”
“I would advise you that the next time you write a letter to the public with criticism of the council that you check out the information that that ‘little bird’ fed you or wrote for you is full of accurate information,” said Wood.
As Stewart approached the podium to respond, Wood said, “I ask you to sit back down. You’ve already said what you wanted to say.”
Wood then went on to quote items from local media and Stewart’s letter to the editor that he asserts are not true. Wood also kept referring to this “little bird” that seems to be aimed at fellow council member Jones.
Wood defended the fiscal responsibility of council over the past five years. “Some counties are borrowing money to pay bills and we are not,” said Wood.
In his final reference to Stewart, Wood said, “you say that you’ve used companies like SpyGlass many times in the past, it seems like you need to take care of your own problems instead of proposing to straighten out ours.”
As Wood continued to speak, Jones offered a ‘point of order’ towards Wood. “I don’t think that it’s right for you to sit here and criticize people out here and tell them that it’s not their business,” said Jones.
Jones then jumped to his feet and pounded his fist on the desk. “This is a joke,” said Jones. “This is a joke. I’m not listening to this. I’m not paying taxes to you. I’m not dealing with this.”
As Jones sat back down, Wood requested that Sheriff Don Reynolds remove Jones from the chambers. Stewart remained at the podium as Sheriff Don Reynolds approached. Reynolds then began to address council. “What are we going to get by running each other down,” said Reynolds. “What are we going to get out of that. Yes, she’s throwing rocks at y’all. Let’s just finish the meeting and move on.”
Wood exclaimed, “Mr. Reynolds, I allowed everyone to speak in here and I’ve got a right to speak myself. Mr. Reynolds, I’ve asked you to escort this man out of chambers.”
Stewart, still at the podium, addressed Wood. “With all due respect, I treated you with respect,” said Stewart. Wood responded, “you’re not going to talk anymore, now you sit down. I’ve asked you to sit down again. Sit down!”
“So far you have not shown me any respect,” said Stewart. “I was respectful to you.”
Wood got the final word in with Stewart before Jones left the chambers along with half of the assembled crowd. “I’ve shown you just as much respect as you have shown me,” said Wood.
At the end of the meeting, council members had an opportunity to speak. “I would like to take this time to apologize to the tax paying citizens of Laurens County,” said Councilmember Garrett McDaniel. “To say the least, this meeting has been very unprofessional and you deserve more from us as leaders. I hope we can join together as a community to make Laurens better.”