Nothing to hide

By Courtney Pigman - [email protected]

By Courtney Pigman

[email protected]

WILLIAMSON – In an effort to better inform the public, The Williamson Daily News and former City Attorney Chris Younger, sat down for a candid interview to discuss the reasoning behind Chris Youngers’ resignation as City Attorney at last week’s council meeting and to clarify that the resignation was not related to issues surrounding the Williamson Utility Board.

Younger feels that part of the reasoning behind the confusion with his resignation is a lack of knowledge made available to the public. “A big part of the issue is that the public does not have the information and the facts that they want,” Younger said.

Younger continued the conversation, explaining that he has nothing to hide. “In my case, I have nothing to hide. I want everyone to know the real reason. One of the reasons I want to say that is because, in my business, reputation is everything. After spending almost 30 years in this business, you build up a reputation. It is important to me and I am going to defend it with everything I have and in any way that I need to,” Younger explained.

“People, who know me, know that there is no way in the world that I was associated with any kind of problem and that is not why I am out of there. You have to worry about the people who don’t know you. The people who don’t know you are going to make assumptions. In my business, assumptions are dangerous,” Younger said.

“I am not elected, I am appointed. I am not a politician and my purpose as City Attorney was to provide legal advice and offer suggestions,” Younger continued.

On behalf of the Williamson City Council, Younger agreed to pen a letter to the U.S Attorney requesting an investigation. He explained that the letter was written the next day. “People who have something to hide do not ask the U.S Attorney to come in and investigate,” Younger said.

The resignation was not related to Mayor Steven Knopps’ resignation at the last meeting. Younger had been planning to resign for months. “I have been talking about resigning for a number of months. I did not know the mayor was resigning. That was a bombshell for all of us. I knew Francis Frye was planning to resign and thought rather than create upheavals at different times, that if you are going to go, do it at one time and let them move on. When you are losing key people from key positions, it will cause an upheaval,” Younger explained.

Younger states that the resignations being announced together was not an admittance to any wrong doing but rather, simply bad timing. “The only facet that is associated with the other resignations is the time. My resignation had nothing to do with the utility board. I don’t know anything about it at all. The timing was unfortunate,” Younger said.

At the Williamson City Council meeting, Youngers’ resignation was announced citing lack of time due to his private practice as the reasoning. Upon reflection, Younger felt that his reasoning ran deeper and was more about family.

“I am glad I decided to do an interview because it made me think about this. I did not realize I had so much to say about it. I thought I was resigning because of time, but the more I thought about it, I think the reason I am resigning is for family. This is a family business. My business is about family too because most of the work I do is with families. The kind of work I do takes a lot of time and attention. People don’t realize the volume of work that comes out of my office,” Younger said.

Younger explained that the public needs to ask the right questions to the right people. To do that, questions need to be geared toward the Williamson Utility Board’s longstanding attorney Robert Rodecker, and their accountant, Michael D. Griffith.

“To get the answers you want; you have to ask the right questions and ask the right people. I don’t think they are asking the right people. The rate increase comes from the Williamson Utility Board. The city has to act on it because the City Council and the mayor pass ordinances but the rate increase comes from the utility board,” Younger said.

Younger explained how a utility board functions. “The Utility Board has their own attorney that has represented them for many years. The attorney and the utility board put the ordinance together. They set up meetings and have public hearings. More importantly, they have an accountant. That is how they determine rates. For a rate increase, the accountant looks at numbers, looks at the books, and determines how much money the system needs in order to operate to meet requirements.”

When it comes to who could best answer the public’s questions, Younger explained that the Utility Board would be the best source of information. “Talk to the utility board, talk to their attorney, and most important of all, talk to their accountant. If anyone can give them an answer, that would be the person to give them a better answer,” Younger said.

However, Younger explained that the public needs to exercise patience and allow time for answers to be formulated. “As for the public, I wish they would sit back and take a breath for a minute. They are asking questions but they don’t want to wait and get the answers,” Younger said.

Younger also discussed the need for the public to understand that City Council members are performing a public service and that the rate increase also impacts them as citizens of this city. “I am disturbed by the public’s perception of the whole thing. I think the public forgets that all the people sitting on the council are all citizens of Williamson and it impacts them also. If anyone out there doubts that they love this town, they are sadly mistaken. People do not realize that these are not money making positions. The money is not why there are there. They are there to help. It’s public service,” Younger said.

Chris Younger has been a city attorney for 25 years. In 1991, he was appointed as Matewan’s City Attorney and served there between 10 to 12 years. In 2003, he was appointed as Williamson City Attorney and served roughly the same amount of time as the City Attorney for Williamson.

(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)

By Courtney Pigman

[email protected]

(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)

(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)

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