PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Mayor James Holley told WAVY.com on Monday night, "I'm sorrythat I may have created something that is totally out of characterfor me," referring to a formal complaint made by his formersecretary. Lorraine Stokes claims the mayor regularlyrequired her to take care of his personal chores and was verballyabusive to her if she failed.
"So, I apologize to all the Portsmouth family and to all thecouncil members for whatever grief they've received as a result ofthis," said Mayor Holley. "I admit I may have made a mistakeand did and I'll pay the fine."
Mayor Holley is expected to make a public statement tonightduring the city council meeting, which is open to the public.
Vice Mayor Bill Moody told WAVY.com on Monday night, "I hope wecan get past this, there's a lot of work to do, and this is adistraction quite frankly. I think the mayor's statementTuesday 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 actionstelling WAVY.com he is too busy with city business to be saddledwith menial personal chores that his secretary should handle, likeshopping online for his family members, setting up his hair andnail appointments and calling his tailor, his doctor and hisfinancial advisors.
Last week city leaders reprimanded Mayor Holley and fined him$2,500 for his "abusive conduct" toward his secretary. TheMayor's secretary had filed a formal complaint claiming heregularly instructed her to take care of his personal chores likesearching local stores for his favorite cologne, English Leather,shopping online for tummy support t-shirts, hair paste and even aTaser gun to deal with some geese at his house.
She says the Mayor had her visit Playboy online at work tocancel 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." Holleymaintained 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 wasand I didn't have as much time to call somebody and say, 'Don'tsend me that anymore,'" said the Mayor, again referring to thePlayboy subscription.
Holley also admitted he instructed his secretary to order afolding treadmill for his wife.
"Yes, my wife was injured, so we asked her to do that," headmitted.
The Mayor's secretary also wrote in her formal complaint thather boss was verbally abusive to her, especially if she failed tocomplete one of his chores. She wrote that Holley called hera "nobody" and would become "hostile" toward her. Holleydenied the verbal abuse.
"That's not true," he said. "There are several people that havealready called wanting to know if that position was open for themto be my secretary."
City Council members joined together in signing the letter ofreprimand to the Mayor citing his ongoing pattern of "abusiveconduct," saying he was "insulting and demeaning...creating ahostile environment" for his secretary.
Holley asserted he has much more important things to do "than tocall someone and ask them if a suit they were tailoring for me isready. Number one priority is Portsmouth. Soeverything I did, I did for our well-being. I"m going tocontinue to work that way."
WAVY.com asked Holley, "What do you say to the citizens whobelieve it's time for you to go?" He responded, "Well, that's theirprerogative."
When asked, "What do you say to those who believe you are anembarrassment to the city of Portsmouth?" Holley said, "I'mnot."
WAVY.com asked Holley how he would feel if a recall movementwere 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 thaton the record," he said.
Mayor Holley said he would pay the $2,500 fine imposed bycouncil. "Of course, it's the law," he said. And the Mayor addedthat he was sorry.
His secretary has been reassigned to another position in thecity.
Vehicles lined up Wednesday, Dec. 4 to board the ferries traveling between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point on the Outer Banks.
One of the dogs rescued from a suspected puppy mill in North Carolina died Wednesday.
Police arrested one man and are looking for another suspect after a fight involving shots fired in Chesapeake.