SF public works director, 3 employees terminated
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 9:02 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
South Fulton’s public works director and three public works employees have been terminated.
Hubert Maynard had served as the city’s public works director since 1998.
The Messenger received a tip Monday alleging that all the employees at South Fulton’s Public Works Department had been fired, but South Fulton Mayor David Crocker confirmed the city’s public works director and three employees — not everyone in the department — were dismissed.
Crocker, who is currently serving as interim city manager, said the dismissals are a personnel matter and he cannot disclose any further details.
“It’s a personnel issue. That’s all I can say,” he told The Messenger.
When specifically asked, Crocker said the dismissals are not related to recent discussions about the possibility of contracting out the operation of the city’s water and wastewater treatment plants.
Crocker has been serving as interim city manager for about 21⁄2 months since the departure of Jeff Vowell, who accepted a position in the banking business. The search is under way for a new city manager.
Maynard told The Messenger today that he is trying to appeal the firings and has contacted an attorney. He said, under city policy, the terminated employees have the right for a suspension and a grievance appeal before the city commission before they are fired.
“We’re trying to get their jobs back. They were wrongfully discharged,” he said. “These guys have been faithful for years. They’re good workers.”
Maynard claimed the events leading up to his termination began Friday evening. He said he had been overworked — “I’m a salaried man and I work my 60 hours” — and took off about three hours Friday evening for some personal time and to rest. He explained his job had been very stressful and he said in addition to his public works duties, he was also having to run the wastewater plant, since he was the only employee with proper certification.
Maynard said he was supposed to call Crocker to let him know if he was going to be off work and he failed to do so, but he claimed he has previously not been able to reach the mayor by phone or have a telephone call returned. He said he decided to go ahead and take off.
He alleged the situation escalated with an incident involving trying to keep a gas meter locked when someone keeps unlocking it. He said it was finally capped off over the weekend and he claimed he was accused of giving his public works crew an order to cap it off. He said, even though he is public works director, he has employees who go to school to learn about gas and his gas supervisor called with concerns about people unlocking the gas cap.
“My gas supervisor called me and said, ‘People keep unlocking it and it needs to be capped off so no one gets hurt here,’” he said.
He said he told the gas supervisor to proceed if needed, adding that the supervisor shared stories of accidents that can occur. “His conscience led him to cap it off,” he said.
Maynard said he knew something would come of the decision, but he said he thought he could explain and the mayor would listen. He said the mayor came to him and indicated he was going to fire one of the gas workers and he said he told the mayor to “go home and cool off” before making a decision.
Maynard told The Messenger he was later summoned to South Fulton City Hall, where he was met outside by Crocker and his brother, South Fulton Police Chief Andy Crocker. He alleged the mayor was angry and told him he was fired. He also claimed he was told to surrender his public works keys and to leave the lot or be arrested.
“They treated me like a criminal,” he claimed.
Maynard said the gas employee tried to tell city officials that Maynard had nothing to do with the meter decision.
“(The public works employees) wanted to not break the gas laws. (The mayor) wanted us to do it. He is not acting upon sensibility here,” he claimed.
“I don’t know why I was fired. They didn’t tell me,” he continued. “I asked if I could get my personal items and they wouldn’t let me.”
Maynard claimed he and the other terminated employees went back to South Fulton City Hall to retrieve the personal items and to try to obtain termination forms with reasons for their dismissals.
“(The mayor) said one word — insubordination,” Maynard alleged. “I can’t talk with him. He won’t listen.”
Maynard said he had to contact the sheriff’s department in order to obtain access to the city building to retrieve his personal items. He said he was not allowed to go inside and his items were brought out to him.
He said he plans to appeal the decision to fire the employees but doesn’t yet know if he and the others will be in attendance at Thursday’s regular monthly meeting of the South Fulton City Commission, set for 5 p.m. at the municipal complex courtroom. He said the terminated employees are not allowed on city property.
“We’re told to stay off, so I’m uneasy about going,” he said. “They will arrest you. I’m hesitant about that.”
Maynard said he started work with the City of South Fulton in 1982 as a gas laborer and stayed for eight years before accepting an offer in the wastewater field. He worked elsewhere in wastewater for eight years and returned to his hometown of South Fulton in 1998 when the public works director’s position became available.
“I live here and I always wanted the job,” he said. “I took a pay cut to come here.”
Published in The Messenger 3.15.11