Atlanta’s Watershed Nominee at Issue in Alleged Retaliatory Firings
(APN) ATLANTA — Today the City Council of Atlanta is likely to consider the nomination of Jo Ann Macrina as Commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management.
After being nominated by Mayor Kasim Reed in April 2011, she is already serving as Interim Commissioner. She previously worked as Deputy Director of the Watershed Protection Division for DeKalb County’s Department of Watershed Management.
The nomination to serve as Commissioner is already contentious, having led to significant debate in City Utilities Committee. The Committee approved her on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, in a 5 to 1 vote, with Chairwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5) as the only nay vote.
Archibong has taken issue with her seeming lack of experience and believes the City should have undertaken a national search.
But according to a source who has been granted anonymity by the Atlanta Progressive News, when the City of Atlanta sent a city attorney to Dekalb County to investigate Macrina’s background, two employees who spoke frankly with the attorney believe they were fired for doing so.
The two employees, Charles McKinney and Wes Rogers, provided information to the City of Atlanta after receiving permission to do so from Richard Stogner, Dekalb County’s Chief Operating Officer. They were two among several Dekalb employees who provided information to the City.
According to the source, the two were fired after being called into a meeting with Ted Reinhart, Assistant COO, and Hari Karikaran, who is over permitting and engineering.
One employee was told at first there was no money for his position any longer. The other was told he did not fit the vision for Dekalb County.
But in the meeting they were asked why they chose to talk to the attorney from the City of Atlanta.
When they claimed they received permission from Stogner, the COO, to talk to the City, and it was confirmed, Mr. McKinney got his job back, but Rogers–who was already on probation–did not.
It is not immediately clear what kind of damaging information may have been divulged, or whether the issue was merely one of them violating a chain of command [even though they did not].
Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5), Chairwoman of the City Utilities Committee, told APN that the City Attorney did not issue a written report to Council Members as a result of the trip to Dekalb County; only a verbal report.
Archibong said the verbal report did not include any information that was particularly damaging, except that Macrina was found to have been in the wrong in an equal opportuntites complaint.
When asked about McKinney and Rogers, Archibong said that she too had heard from a different source about what happened to them and that she had been trying to confirm it as well.
Burke Brennan, Chief Communications Officer, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In order to ensure as much information is available to Council Members at today’s confirmation proceedings, APN is publishing the information at this time with an emphasis that it has not yet been confirmed with the County.
(END / 2011)