Canton Manager Gets Probation
After a report of a March 15 traffic stop involving the city manager surfaced last Thursday, questions of preferential treatment dogged the city.
The Canton City Council placed Scott Wood on six months probation "to evaluate his effectiveness" as city manager.
"You're going to have a blemish-free record from now on is the way I see it," Council member Glen Cummins said tonight.
The majority decision comes seven days after a WSB-TV report revealed that the city manager was pulled over shortly after a March 15 city council meeting.
Until that report, the city said nothing about the stop.
Wood, who made sure the officer knew he was not dealing with an ordinary citizen, drove off that night with a warning for failing to maintain his lane and driving 45 m.p.h. in a 30 m.p.h. zone. And Henley received a verbal warning for shutting off the audio toward the end of the stop.
That violation of police department policy and the city's silence around the incident raised questions about Wood and if he was the recipient of preferential treatment.
While Hobgood attempted to put those concerns to rest on Monday, an admission from the interim chief sparked new questions.
Todd Vande Zande said Wood wasn't treated any differently than any other person who is pulled over for alleged traffic violations, but he said Wood's assistant called him less than 12 hours after the traffic stop with a request.
Wood wanted to meet with Vande Zande.
"For him to give me his explanation," the interim chief said Wednesday.
And last Friday, a day after the WSB-TV report, Wood asked for another meeting with Vande Zande, this time with Henley. The meeting never happened because Henley never returned to work after the story aired on television. Henley resigned effective immediately on Wednesday.
Vande Zande said he didn't know the purpose of the meeting and never followed up because "I don't know that it's an appropriate thing to do."
Until tonight's meeting, Wood's only public comments regarding the traffic stop came last Thursday, during that WSB report.
"I neither asked for and hopefully did not receive any kind of preferential treatment," Wood told reporter Michael Buczyner.
He repeated that sentiment tonight and said he was wrong for speeding. While it was no excuse, he said he was frustrated that night after a four-hour council meeting in which "a good 10-year city employee (was) villified right here in a public forum unfairly."
When Cummins asked Wood if, in hindsight, it was inappropriate to identify himself to a subordinate, the city manager had this reply:
"I did identify myself to that officer and I'm not sure that other people around this dais would not have done the same thing under similar circumstances at 10:15 at night. That officer was detailed to make DUI arrests, which is by any account a dangerous undertaking. I readily identified myself because I simply wanted him to be assured that I posed no threat to him."
Wood also addressed the officer's decision to shut off the audio toward the end of the stop.
He said a review of traffic stops scheduled for court action in the city of Canton in February, March and April show that 17 of the 30 stops "did not contain uninterrupted videos. Well over half."
WATCH THE SPECIAL CALLED COUNCIL MEETING