PTC balks at personnel change

Mon, 10/01/2007 - 8:51pm
By: The Citizen

The Peachtree City Council Monday night decided not to adopt a policy change that would allow its division directors and chiefs to be fired without cause.

Currently they can be fired by the city manager but only with appropriate cause, and even then the employee can appeal the matter to the City Council. If that appeal is unsuccessful, the employee can file a suit in Superior Court, noted City Attorney Ted Meeker.

Had directors’ and chiefs’ status been changed to that of at-will employees, all of those protections would be gone.

After council decided against moving its top employees to an at-will or contract status, Police Chief James Murray noted that police chiefs who serve in at-will situations can be subject to more political pressure not to arrest or ticket certain persons which opens up the door to potential corruption.

Councilman Mike Harman asked why the matter was brought up to begin with. Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett said council had been discussing “a certain set of circumstances which we don’t have but could happen again.”

The meeting was attended by about 10 police officers who watched from the audience, an indication that perhaps there are behind-the-scenes problems between the council and officers, who several months ago formed a union.

In other business at the workshop meeting, council was given a detailed rundown of various changes to the city’s personnel policy, many of which are housekeeping in nature. One change eliminates a provision that employees’ appeal hearings are to be kept private. When asked why the hearings should be public, Meeker replied: “It’s the law.”

Georgia’s open meetings statute requires council to take evidence in such hearings in open session although it may adjourn into executive (closed) session to deliberate its decision, Meeker said.

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shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 12:35pm.

you know it just seems that anytime you get a group together to
run or manage something it goes to poo, everything that gets done
should be for the betterment of the city or county and not at the expense of the people that serve that city or county, NO law enforcement should have merit raises cut or cost of living cut
thats like asking a solder to buy his own ammo

Submitted by hoppette on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 6:30am.

The following is posted on the Peachtree City website - Huddleston Pond Progress
The multi-use paths surrounding Huddleston Pond in Peachtree City have been closed to begin setting up the construction and erosion control fencing for the dam rehabilitation. The entire project is expected to be completed in early 2008.
Pedestrians, cyclists, and golf cart drivers should use Bridlepath Lane, Windgate Road, and Rosewood Court as appropriate to get around Huddleston Pond

To this I have to laugh.....not only has the pond been like this for 3 years but now we can't even walk around it. Its been barricaded now for 3 weeks and not a thing has been done (except put up the barricades) No workmen, no equipment..nothing! Come on and lets get this started.

Submitted by therev on Tue, 10/02/2007 - 1:48pm.

Maybe the "behind the scenes" problems are between the Union and the Chief. How do we know? I have not read a whole lot on here about what the Union is requesting from anyone; Council, Mayor, or Chief. Sometimes being able to terminate a Director is a good thing. Otherwise you get somebody doing a decent job for twenty years when most would rather have someone do a great job for 5-10. On a bender or not, the city manager should be able to make the right call, just not this City or this Manager.

Fins's picture
Submitted by Fins on Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:17pm.

Hey Rev, instead of speculating or making assumptions about why the cops have a union, how about doing a little research or maybe try talking to one or two of them like I have. Not all police unions are formed because of internal issues. Let’s look at just some of the past years events:

The City Manager cuts employee benefits and their cost of living pay raise. Then he hacks at the cops overtime and cuts the merit increases. All while money is being thrown into the recreation department and into pet projects like $800,000 pedestrian bridges that we can’t use. Remember the statistics? The rec. department has an annual budget that is 300% higher than other cities the size of Peachtree City. The police department’s budget is almost 40% BELOW other cities our size. Also, lets not forget the fact that City Hall is paying off million dollar debts that aren’t our responsibility or making million dollar repairs on buildings that need to be demolished. I seem to remember reading that Peachtree City cops are leaving the force for better paying jobs and now we are left with the issue of paying the cops better or lowering the standards to fill police cars. I understand that some local agencies hire officers that have been arrested for Misdemeanors. Is that what Peachtree City is going to resort to? I, for one, don’t want some criminal with a badge watching over me and my family at night. Now, when these same politicians who are putting OUR safety at risk decide that they want to control the Police, the cops show up in support of keeping politics out of the PD. Sounds to me like the reasons for a police union is obvious.


Therapy is extremely expensive. Popping bubble wrap is radically cheap. JB

shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 12:39pm.

i like what fin has to say
take some big bites get rid of the counsel
the police and fire/rescue need to be paid to a point that they]
can live where they serve

did i read that the city counsel got raises, or was it that they were looking in to it, i cant remember,

Submitted by therev on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 7:51am.

First off, maybe it is you that should do the research by re-reading what I wrote. No speculating or assuming, instead I am pointing out the fact that the writer of this column was *speculating* on why the Officers were there. I simply stated that there could be another reason why the "Union" was there; there could have been a hundred reasons. And further, I completely agree with everything you stated after your opening paragraph. This City has a habit of doing things the way that will benefit a small minority of its Citizens and alienate its employees. However, I have not read any interviews with Union reps that advise on what their issues are. Should we just get that info from the blogs, or do you have a better source?

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:58am.

Why bring it up in the first place?

The answer - not so good - read this; Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett said council had been discussing “a certain set of circumstances which we don’t have but could happen again.”

Well now, that's clear. If we apply that logic to the Kohl's land swap to help a developer, then maybe we should turn it down because it "could happen again". Right?

ptctaxpayer's picture
Submitted by ptctaxpayer on Tue, 10/02/2007 - 8:11am.

Go Bobby Morgan--- I agree.

What kind of lawyer double-speak was that from Plunkett? And she needs a raise? This was a dumb idea to try and give firing power over the Police Chief to the city manager so he could do it in secret. It is unfortunate that the PD had to unionize but I don't blame them.

Say what you want about any of the Mayors Fred Brown, Bob Lenox and Steve Brown but there are two things you can say about them: (1) every one of them, to a fairly reasonable level, supported the Police Department and Chief Murray (2) each one of them was in charge. This current Mayor and Council is simply dysfunctional.

Fins's picture
Submitted by Fins on Tue, 10/02/2007 - 12:00pm.

Sounds to me like there was some back-peddling going on. Council asks McMullin to put a plan together and then questions why? I spoke to someone who was there last night. They told me that McMullin tried to pass this thing without explaining the 'with cause' clause to council. It took the City Attorney to make sure council understood that under the 'At Will' plan, McMullin could fire the Chief for parting his hair the wrong way. Why leave that little tid-bit of information out Mr. City Manager? Sounds fishy to me.


Therapy is extremely expensive. Popping bubble wrap is radically cheap. JB

shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 12:46pm.

maybe city mananger has his own personal plan
like putting in someone that will do what he wants or says
or someone that will not argue about pay for his men

i had similar happen to me when a director wanted to let me go at will
for pushing for pay increses for the personnel under me. the city mananger
refused and gave the rasies ( i had back up to show just cause or need for the pay increases )

oh and my pay didnt change but the ones under me did
good thing i had a good city mananger to deal with

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