Appeals Of Fort Oglethorpe Firings Denied, Matter Moves To Superior Court

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - by Mike O'Neal

The Fort Oglethorpe City Council has upheld the March 22 firings of former Public Works Director Jeff Long and Chief of Police David Eubanks.

Those firings immediately followed City Manager Ron Goulart’s resignation and the appointment of Harold Silcox to serve as interim manager.

Within minutes of assuming his post at 3:55 p.m., Mr. Silcox called each of the long time employees into Mayor Lynn Long’s office to tell them their employment with the city had come to an end and that neither would receive severance.

The public works director and police chief filed appeals to their termination, and Tuesday evening the mayor presided over a tribunal consisting of the city council members to either uphold or reverse the firings.

Mayor Long cast a tie-breaking vote, joining Louis Hamm and Johnnie Smith in upholding Mr. Long’s firing while Earl Gray and Clay Kissner voted to overturn his termination.

Mr. Eubanks’ dismissal was upheld 3-1 with Mr. Gray casting the sole vote to reinstate the police chief.

Stuart James and McCracken Poston, attorneys for the former employees, said the results of the tribunal were a foregone conclusion.

“I was surprised by Kissner’s vote,” said Mr. James, concerning Mr. Long’s appeal. The rest showed what a kangaroo court this proved to be. The mayor was coaching Mr. Silcox on his answers — the city of Fort Oglethorpe can do a lot better than this.”

Both Mr. James and Mr. Poston pointed out that Mr. Silcox admitted, under oath, that he was hired to fire Mr. Long and Mr. Eubanks.

It was also noted that Mr. Goulart’s letter of resignation clearly stated that his resignation became effective on March 25, the Monday following the firings under appeal.

“It was no surprise,” Mr. Poston said after his clients’ firings were confirmed.

Before questioning began, every member of the council was served with a copy of a Superior Court lawsuit calling for the reinstatement of both Mr. Long and Mr. Eubanks and their being awarded damages.

The complaint states, among other things, that Mr. Silcox firings were premature, that the city’s policy regarding disciplinary action toward employees had not been adhered to and that the mayor, council and interim manager had acted illegally.

Mr. Poston said it was necessary that the appeals hearings be concluded before the lawsuit could move forward.

“We expected this and now will let a jury decide what happens. It is clear that Harold Silcox did not have the authority for three days to do anything. The grounds are set for a lawsuit.

“This was a preamble to the bigger story,” Mr. James said.

When asked to express his opinion about the appeals hearing, Mayor Long’s response was, “No comment.”

moneal2480@comcast.net


Governor Haslam Applauds Passage Of IMPROVE Act That Is Headed To His Desk

Governor Bill Haslam on Monday praised passage of the IMPROVE Act, a key piece of his NextTennessee legislative plan. He said it "gives the largest tax cut in Tennessee history and makes the state more competitive in recruiting manufacturing jobs while delivering a safe, reliable and debt-free transportation network for the next generation of Tennesseans." Governor Haslam said, ... (click for more)

Officials React To Sonny Perdue's Appointment To Serve As Secretary Of Agriculture

The U.S. Senate voted 87 to 11 on Monday to confirm former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as United States Secretary of Agriculture Senator Lamar Alexander said, “Governor Perdue is well-qualified to lead the Department of Agriculture: He’s a farmer, a veterinarian, and a former governor. I look forward to working with him to support agriculture and rural development programs, ... (click for more)

No Tax-Supported Entity Should Get Secrecy In Spending

A shadowy situation has emerged in Chattanooga with an organization that manages millions of taxpayer dollars with no transparency and such a surprising disregard for accountability that one wonders what it would take to wake up elected officials who are supposedly in charge. Welcome to the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose lawyer threatened to sue the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Genius Comes This Way

They claim that about 50 years ago there was this special night at the Tivoli Theater. The “Jewel of the South” had been sold out for weeks and about 45 minutes before Louis Armstrong, or whoever, was to appear, incomparable John Robere had pulled out all the stops on “The Mighty Wurlitzer” and the excitement was keen. This tuxedoed dandy – he was even wearing spats – escorted his ... (click for more)

Defense Sparkles In Ooltewah's 4-0 Win Vs. Walker Valley

(Story will be updated) Strong defense meant more for Ooltewah than any other aspect of Monday’s key District 5-3A prep baseball game against Walker Valley at A.C. “Bud” Ball Field. ** Owls center fielder Jake Sullivan made an ESPN-worthy diving catch in left-center that probably saved two runs in the first inning. ** Pitcher Daniel Willie picked off a Mustangs runner ... (click for more)

Lee Women, Men Second At Gulf South Conference Championship

The Lee women's golf team slipped from first to second after 36 holes of play at the Gulf South Conference Tournament on Monday from Callaway Gardens Golf Club. The 13th-ranked Lady Flames dipped to 313 after an opening round score of 303 for a 617 total. No. 16 West Georgia fired a 298 in round two (604 total) and will carry a 13-shot lead over the Lady Flames heading into ... (click for more)