Atlanta Council Delays Watershed Vote following APN Article
(APN) ATLANTA — The City Council of Atlanta, which was expected to vote yesterday, Tuesday, July 05, 2011, on the confirmation of Jo Ann Macrina–Mayor Kasim Reed’s nominee for Commissioner for the Department of Watershed Management–delayed the vote following recent revalations in an article by Atlanta Progressive News.
The Full Council went into Executive Session for two full hours to discuss personnel matters, one of which was clearly Macrina.
It is also believed the Council discussed the fate of Municipal Clerk Rhonda Dauphin Johnson who was caught using a city-rented vehicle to move furniture in one incident, and allegedly using one thousand dollars of city money to ship a television to Africa in another.
After the Council came out of Executive Session, the Council completed the meeting without voting on the Macrina nomination or discussing it publicly.
Earlier yesterday morning at the Committee on Council Meeting, Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9), who Chairs the Committee, noted that she had received an email that she wanted to review with colleagues. APN had just emailed a copy of the article to all Council Members, and it is likely Moore was referencing that email.
Councilwomen Cleta Winslow (District 4) and Natalyn Archibong (District 5) joined Moore in stating that they had concerns regarding Macrina that needed to be cleared up; they sought for these to be cleared up in Executive Session of Committee of the Whole, rather than having the Committee on Council to support the confirmation at that point.
The article had revealed that previous employees under Macrina at Dekalb County had complained about her to an attorney sent by the City of Atlanta to investigate her performance at Dekalb County.
After two employees from Dekalb County spoke to the attorney from Atlanta, they were fired, although one, Charles McKinney, was hired back, APN reported early yesterday, based on anonymous sources.
Since the publication of that article, APN received an email from the former Dekalb employee who did not get his job back, Wes Rogers, and also received a phone call from another Dekalb County employee who confirmed the two firings and the one re-hiring.
“My name is Wes Rogers and I just read your article about my firing from DeKalb County for ‘not fitting the vision,'” Rogers wrote.
“While I can’t prove I was fired in retaliation, I can tell you that two days after Jo Ann Macrina was grilled by the Atlanta City Council, Charles McKinney and I were called into a meeting with Ted Rhinehart, Hari Karikaran, and Angela Lindsey and were fired,” Rogers wrote.
“Monday morning Charles and I sat in a Department meeting with Hari and I was told to keep up the good work. My department was under Jo Ann Macrina and all 8 inspectors filed a grievance against her for abuse, unfair treatment, and mismanagement. Of course, the Director of Watershed Management Dr. Francis Kung’u (her friend and once coworker) did the investigation instead of Human Resources and found that there was no grounds for the grievance and that it was more the inspectors fault,” Rogers wrote.
APN previously reported that Rogers was on probation. In fact, Rogers was a newer employee and was on a probationary period, meaning he had no right to appeal. Of course, that does not make it acceptable for Dekalb County to retaliate.
“When Jo Ann left [Dekalb County], we were put under Charles McKinney and morale went up, we started collecting permit payments that hadn’t been gathered for three years under Ms. Macrina, and the program became more efficient. We collected $100,000 in the month of May, up 68% from January. I brought a new revenue source to the County in the form of Hauler Inspections. I completed evaluations for employees that had not had a performance evaluation in 3 years (all under Ms. Macrina),” Rogers wrote.
“I sent a letter to the CEO, the Board of Commissioners, and the COO with concerns about the reason for my termination given to me by Ted Rhinehart. He informed me that it was not performance, but that I didn’t fit the vision of the County. I have received no reply from any of them as to what the ‘vision’ is,” Rogers wrote.
“According to the Chief of Staff to the Board, Ms. Macrina supposedly had started termination proceedings for me before she left in March. According to Ms. Lindsey, she tried to fire me because of my personality but HR wouldn’t let her. But now I get fired for my personality? Doesn’t add up,” Rogers wrote.
“Another thing I mentioned to HR was the fact that Jo Ann was in her office for three days (after she had submitted her letter of resignation and had the press conference at the City of Atlanta) with the door closed and the shredder running non-stop. When I mentioned it, Angela Lindsey told me the retention schedule for any document is 5 years… Ms. Macrina was there for 3 years. Not sure what was going on,” Rogers wrote.
The present forwarded the email from Rogers to Council Members and read sections of the email aloud during the public comment portion of the Full Council Meeting.
Late yesterday evening, APN spoke by telephone with another Dekalb employee, who was granted confidentiality because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
According to this person, there are two other Dekalb employees who faced disciplinary action that they believe to be political retaliation related to Jo Ann Macrina and the interviews they provided to the City of Atlanta.
One of these employees had come across Macrina’s application package including “her resume, all the lies she told” on the City of Atlanta’s website, and, intending to forward it to another colleague, forwarded it to the whole department, in late May 2011, according to the source.
This employee, as well as the employee who originally sent them the link, both received official letters of reprimand from Dekalb County, citing improper use of county equipment, according to the source.
This source also confirmed the firings of McKinney and Rogers, and the re-hiring of McKinney, related to the two of them speaking to the attorney for the City of Atlanta.
However, they said that the attorney sent by the City of Atlanta was Ken Hodges, apparently a private attorney hired by the City. Incidentally, Hodges was the Democratic nominee for Attorney General of the State of Georgia in 2010.
This is consistent with what the original source had told APN; that the fired employees had spoken to a private attorney commissioned by the City.
But when APN spoke with Councilwoman Archibong, Chairwoman of the City Utilities Committee, she was not aware of a private attorney having been sent.
In addition, Council Members did not seem to be aware of several of [what should have been] the findings of Hodges’s investigation, raising questions about whether the Law Department or the Executive Branch suppressed information from the City Council in order to help ensure the appointment of the Mayor’s selection.
Archibong had said that she had been told that Macrina had been found to be in the wrong in an equal opportunities investigation, involving a former Dekalb employee who now works for the City of College Park.
However, Janet Ward, spokeswoman for Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management, denied that Macrina had ever been the subject of an EEOC investigation or found in the wrong, in a very rude email to APN.
But APN’s anonymous source #2 said that Macrina was sued in a separate matter by five former employees, who won their jobs back as well as a monetary settlement.
This source said several Dekalb employees are concerned about what they believe to be Macrina’s practice of directing contracts to her friends.
“She would order the same reports over from her friends, who were consultants,” they said.
They said that as soon as Macrina arrived as Interim Commissioner at the City of Atlanta, that she attempted to hire her former Dekalb ally, Dr. Kungu, at the City. “She tried to hire him over at the City of Atlanta. She stopped jobs so she could get him on. His wife owns a construction company,” this source said.
(END / 2011)