Settle is vindicated

Capt. Chris Settle was reinstated with the Town of Culpeper in January after four months of being on administrative leave.

With the recent news that he received a $100,000 settlement from the town’s insurance company, his days of being under public scrutiny are probably not over.

But, they should be.

The fact is, the insurance company, after conducting its own investigation, determined that settling the matter out of court was in its best interest.

In their minds, it was no doubt a good deal. Taking the matter into the courtroom could have cost them, and the town, a lot more.

Former town manager Kim Alexander’s allegations against Settle ran the gamut from inappropriate texting to giving drug dealers a heads up that law enforcement was on the way.

More than three dozen allegations were levied against Settle. In the end, the investigation had whittled that number to roughly three, and those were minor.

So much so, that acting town manager Chris Hively reinstated Settle shortly after Alexander was fired in January.

Back on the job, Settle was left with the task of legally looking to clear his name after the string of allegations disputing his professional and personal character had been levied against him.

What is also fact is the division in the community that was created by his being placed on administrative leave, then quickly reinstated once Alexander was let go.

For many, it was vindication that he had been wrongly accused and punished.

For others, it was confirmation that the town buddy system had once again protected one of its own.

Bottom line, all the chatter doesn’t really matter.

Settle has been paid for his tribulations even if there are those out there that think otherwise.

Town council will very soon be making a decision on the hiring of a new treasurer to replace retired Ron Mabry, as well as a new town manager. Acting Town Manager Chris Hively has been offered the position last filled by Alexander and contract negotiations were underway at press time.

If you speak to any of the council members or to the mayor, they may differ on tactics, but, strategically, all of them would agree that the town needs to heal from the Daniel Harmon-Wright drama, the Settle matter and the firing of Alexander.

Those three major disruptions have plagued the town for too long, filling the pages of newspapers and lurking on the lips of naysayers who won’t let these perceived transgressions go away easily.

The awarding of this settlement to a town police captain purportedly injured at the hands of a former town manager will send out different messages.

Oftentimes, the message that is intended is not the message received. It becomes its own animal and runs wild, gaining strength with partial truths, biases and sometimes just pure meanness.

The awarding of this settlement to Chris Settle – a fact he is legally bound from even acknowledging — does not mean the man is going to escape to Aruba laughing all the way, although part of him might like to do that, given the public scrutiny he is under. And with the typically hefty attorney fees and taxes deducted from settlements, Settle will likely see much less than the $100,000 when all is said and done.

A settlement, by its nature, is meant to bring stability and closure.

It goes beyond good, bad, fair or unfair. It’s a legal decision meant to put to rest a dispute.

Once the dust settles, so perhaps will the community.