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


Man, 51, Shot And Killed By Cleveland Police Officers

A 51-year-old man was shot and killed by Cleveland Police officers just before noon Tuesday. Police said Robert Edwin Eaves was a registered sex offender who had abducted a 28-year-old woman and taken her to an address on Phillips Street, where the shooting occurred. Police said three children were inside the house, including a 16-year-old babysitter. One of the children ... (click for more)

Senate Democrats Elect Lee Harris Senate Minority Leader

Senate Democrats elected Senator Lee Harris of Memphis to the post of senate minority leader  on Tuesday . "In a caucus of five members, every single Democrat is a leader in his or her own right," Senator Harris said. "We're making a bet on the future of the Democratic Party in Tennessee, and we're betting that we have better ideas to move Tennessee forward." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga State Faculty Has No Business Being Involved In Hiring Decisions

This letter will hopefully bring some clarity to the recent situation created by the faculty of Chattanooga State Community College. It is based upon my tenure as a member of the faculty at Chattanooga State Technical Institute, the transformation to Chattanooga State Community College, and my service as the financial and administrative officer at Chattanooga State until my retirement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)

Maston, Cameron Power Tyner Past Hixson, 69-60

When Darren Maston transferred from Ooltewah to Tyner prior to last season, he was a role player on a team that had eight talented, experienced seniors. Now, Maston is being asked to fill an expanded role as a scorer and leader. He did both rather well Tuesday night as Tyner opened the 2014-15 season with a 69-60 District 6-AA victory over Hixson on the Wildcats’ floor. ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Soddy Daisy Rolls Past Rhea County

The Soddy Daisy Trojans remained unbeaten after four games in basketball, including Tuesday night's 70-31 romp over the visiting Rhea County Golden Eagles, but please keep in mind that Rhea County is still playing football and at least seven regulars on the basketball court are still trying to win a state title on the gridiron. Preston Pugh scored on a layup with 6:39 to play ... (click for more)