Tensions ran high at a packed North Myrtle Beach City Council meeting Monday night after last week's revelation that a business owner had accused the city manager of assault.
Laura Weaver, owner of Glass Bottom Kayak Tours, told police that North Myrtle Beach City Manager Mike Mahaney grabbed her leg and berated her over an email sent to the city by her business partner Tyler Watkins. The city recently passed an ordinance charging kayak companies operating out of the Cherry Grove Boat Ramp 10% of their gross sales, and Watkins had questioned whether an event on the beach had to pay the same fee.
According to Weaver and Watkins, councilwoman Nikki Fontana had summoned Weaver to the meeting with Mahaney and was present during the exchange.
Weaver and Watkins filed a police report over the incident. City police turned the matter over to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for investigation. The council met in an emergency meeting Friday afternoon but took no action regarding the situation.
On Monday night, an irate Watkins told Mahaney that he should resign or retire immediately.
“What you did this week was not acceptable,” Watkins said. “You came from somewhere else and you do not represent the good people of North Myrtle Beach. You are not representative of this city.”
Watkins' remarks were met with loud applause, leading Mayor Marilyn Hatley to announce that she would close the public comment period of the meeting. That immediately brought a host of boos and shouts from the audience.
Hatley said she would continue public comments but would not tolerate personal attacks against anyone on the council or city staff.
“I will not allow anyone to badger anybody in this chamber,” she said.
An emotional Weaver came to the microphone but sat back down while others were still yelling at the council.
Terri Flick, a teacher from North Myrtle Beach High School, said she had worked with Weaver and wanted everyone to know what a good person she is.
Weaver had taught at North Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest high schools before going full time with her kayak business.
“As an educator, I have known other fabulous educators,” Flick said. “She did not deserve what happened to her.”
Hatley interrupted her and asked if she had been in the meeting when the alleged incident took place.
“No, but I read the police report, which is public record,” Flick said.
Following the meeting, Weaver said she stands by everything in the police report.
“I was intimidated and threatened,” she said.
Watkins said Mahaney should be suspended immediately.
“This man can’t continue to represent this city,” he said.
Hatley called the allegations a personnel issue and said she would not make any specific comments about them.
“We’ll let SLED do their job and the council will go from there,” she said.
CORRECTION: The city recently passed an ordinance charging kayak companies operating out of the Cherry Grove Boat Ramp 10% of their gross sales. An earlier version of this story was incorrect.