West Columbia Mayor, council member exchange heated words - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

West Columbia Mayor, council member exchange heated words

Mayor Joe Owens (left) and Councilman Tem Miles (right) Mayor Joe Owens (left) and Councilman Tem Miles (right)
WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

It was a fiery press conference in West Columbia Thursday.

Supporters of West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens hosted a news conference hoping to refute results of an audit of city business. But that meeting didn't go as planned.

Before the news conference began, Owens got into a standoff with vocal critic of the mayor, Councilman Tem miles. Owens didn't want the councilman there, and ultimately, after some heated exchanges, Miles was locked out of the news conference.

But Miles he had the a police officer unlock the door.

Nevertheless, the Owens news conference continued. The mayor's attorney said many of the issues identified in the recent audit of West Columbia, authored by Attorney Robert Bolchoz, are downright false. The report claimed Owens created an "oppressive atmosphere" at City Hall.

They say the special meeting the mayor held behind closed doors with some city leaders to discuss potential police investigations, among other things, wasn't a public meeting since it was not a committee meeting.

They say a former major didn't execute harmless dogs. They also say the mayor was acting in his purview as constable when he pulled over a speeder.

Owens continues to say the entire report is a political witch hunt but Miles disagrees.

"The report speaks for itself," Miles said. "The mayor's responses are all contradicted by previous reported statements."

"I don't know of anyone I've ever intimidated," responded Owens. "No one is afraid of me... This thing is supposed to be about audit and procedures. There was no audit and procedures. It was just a slander job on me."
Miles said the mayor only responded to a handful of issues out of the many revealed in the report.

Both Miles and Owens called each other liars and ultimately the meeting was called off after they continued to argue back and forth.

Miles says he's doing it for the people. The mayor says he's doing it to play politics.

He said the mayor's response is paper thin to an 8-page report full of allegations of misconduct and vows to keep fighting.

"I would certainly hope the people of West Columbia are proud," said Miles.

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