Updated: Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009, 2:32 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 10 Aug 2009, 7:52 PM EDT
PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Mayor James Holley told WAVY.com on Monday night, "I'm sorry that I may have created something that is totally out of character for me," referring to a formal complaint made by his former secretary. Lorraine Stokes claims the mayor regularly required her to take care of his personal chores and was verbally abusive to her if she failed.
"So, I apologize to all the Portsmouth family and to all the council members for whatever grief they've received as a result of this," said Mayor Holley. "I admit I may have made a mistake and did and I'll pay the fine."
Mayor Holley is expected to make a public statement tonight during the city council meeting, which is open to the public.
Vice Mayor Bill Moody told WAVY.com on Monday night, "I hope we can get past this, there's a lot of work to do, and this is a distraction quite frankly. I think the mayor's statement Tuesday night will shed some additional light on things. So, you'll have to stay tuned to see what that statement is."
But earlier Monday afternoon the mayor defended his actions telling WAVY.com he is too busy with city business to be saddled with menial personal chores that his secretary should handle, like shopping online for his family members, setting up his hair and nail appointments and calling his tailor, his doctor and his financial advisors.
Last week city leaders reprimanded Mayor Holley and fined him $2,500 for his "abusive conduct" toward his secretary. The Mayor's secretary had filed a formal complaint claiming he regularly instructed her to take care of his personal chores like searching local stores for his favorite cologne, English Leather, shopping online for tummy support t-shirts, hair paste and even a Taser gun to deal with some geese at his house.
She says the Mayor had her visit Playboy online at work to cancel his personal subscription to the magazine.
Monday afternoon, just a few hours before his on-camera apology, the mayor told WAVY.com, in reference to the Playboy subscription, "Well, I may have but five seconds that took." Holley maintained he believes he's done nothing wrong. "I certainly don't. I really don't."
"I had to do things to bring Portsmouth back from where it was and I didn't have as much time to call somebody and say, 'Don't send me that anymore,'" said the Mayor, again referring to the Playboy subscription.
Holley also admitted he instructed his secretary to order a folding treadmill for his wife.
"Yes, my wife was injured, so we asked her to do that," he admitted.
The Mayor's secretary also wrote in her formal complaint that her boss was verbally abusive to her, especially if she failed to complete one of his chores. She wrote that Holley called her a "nobody" and would become "hostile" toward her. Holley denied the verbal abuse.
"That's not true," he said. "There are several people that have already called wanting to know if that position was open for them to be my secretary."
City Council members joined together in signing the letter of reprimand to the Mayor citing his ongoing pattern of "abusive conduct," saying he was "insulting and demeaning...creating a hostile environment" for his secretary.
Holley asserted he has much more important things to do "than to call someone and ask them if a suit they were tailoring for me is ready. Number one priority is Portsmouth. So everything I did, I did for our well-being. I"m going to continue to work that way."
WAVY.com asked Holley, "What do you say to the citizens who believe it's time for you to go?" He responded, "Well, that's their prerogative."
When asked, "What do you say to those who believe you are an embarrassment to the city of Portsmouth?" Holley said, "I'm not."
WAVY.com asked Holley how he would feel if a recall movement were initiated and he said, "That would be left up to the citizens, they elected me anyway."
But Holley said he has done a lot of good for the city. "Portsmouth is better now than it was before I came, I'll put that on the record," he said.
Mayor Holley said he would pay the $2,500 fine imposed by council. "Of course, it's the law," he said. And the Mayor added that he was sorry.
His secretary has been reassigned to another position in the city.
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