Crowd calls for Thomson mayor to resign

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 7:46 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 9:33 PM
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A group of more than 100 people gathered at Thomson City Hall this afternoon to call for the resignation of Mayor Kenneth Usry and an investigation by the city council into disciplinary actions taken against Scott Huff, a Public Works supervisor who admitted driving a city vehicle after drinking.

The Rev. Fred Favors (right) reads a statement critical of the city of Thomson's handling of an incident in which a city employee who had been drinking drove a city truck to the scene of storm damage. Favors is a McDuffie County commissioner and the pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Thomson. Joining him at the Wednesday news conference at Thomson City Hall was the Rev. David Walker (left), the pastor of Greater St. James A.M.E. Church in Thomson. The Rev. Roscoe Perry of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Appling distributed the prepared statement to reporters.  Garth Snow/McDuffie Mirror
Garth Snow/McDuffie Mirror
The Rev. Fred Favors (right) reads a statement critical of the city of Thomson's handling of an incident in which a city employee who had been drinking drove a city truck to the scene of storm damage. Favors is a McDuffie County commissioner and the pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Thomson. Joining him at the Wednesday news conference at Thomson City Hall was the Rev. David Walker (left), the pastor of Greater St. James A.M.E. Church in Thomson. The Rev. Roscoe Perry of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Appling distributed the prepared statement to reporters.

The group, led by the Rev. Fred Favors, the pastor of Springfield Baptist Church, called a news conference to "express our concerns regarding the disappointing and disturbing actions displayed by the mayor" on the night of June 18.

Huff drove a city vehicle that night to Lee Street and West Hall Street, where stormwinds had brought a tree down.

Police at the scene noticed the smell of alcohol and were administering a field sobriety test when the mayor arrived, police video and audio recordings of the incident show. After some discussion, and before police could administer a blood-alcohol test, the mayor told Huff, "Come on with me" and took him home in the city vehicle, according to the police report on the incident.

Thomson Police Chief Joe Nelson has said that the mayor's action prevented the possibility of a DUI arrest.

The mayor has said he was acting to protect Huff and others present.

"It goes without saying that the video clearly shows the intereference of the mayor with a police officer performing his responsible duty," the group's statement said.

"Mr. Mayor, you have intimated that you intervened in this situation to have Scott Huff to leave immediately to, 'prevent harm to himself or others.' It was obvious that the officer had already detained Scott. So, what harm captured your immediate attention?"

The statement concluded by asking that the mayor step down "so that the acceptable moral standards that this community desires are respected."

The group, which Favors said consisted of people from throughout the community, also urged the district attorney to ask that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation look into the mayor's handling of the incident.

And it called for the city council to investigate to determine whether the 10-day suspension given Huff was consistent with disciplinary actions against other employees.

Favors did not mention Constance Starr, who stood at his side as he read the statement. Starr, who did not speak during the news conference, said in an interview with The McDuffie Mirror that she was fired in May from the city Public Works Department after she was cited for DUI-less safe, which means she was below the legal blood-alcohol limit, and for driving on a suspended license. She was not cited while on the job.

Huff, who was her supervisor, initially told her that she would be placed on probation.

"What he did was a whole lot worse than what I did," said Starr, who had worked for the city, primarily as a street sweeper operator, for almost 12 years before her dismissal May 25.

"My punishment was too severe. His was not."

A few city employees were among those in the crowd.

One, who identified himself as Rikki Taylor, said all city employees are required to sign a statement swearing that they will not perform city business after drinking.

Other people at the gathering agreed that the mayor should step down.

"I just really got upset when I saw that video because I never thought I'd see anything like that in my life from a city employee in a state with zero tolerance," said Sheila Stapleton of Thomson.

David Groves, also of Thomson, said Huff should have been fired.

"Just because he's higher on the food chain (than Starr) doesn't mean he shouldn't have been terminated, too."

Usry did not immediately respond to a message left on his home answering machine this evening seeking comment.

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broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 06/29/11 - 08:12 pm
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i wonder what their recall
Unpublished

i wonder what their recall process is. mr. norton and mr. snow, do you know? and just for kicks, what is augusta's recall process?

Riverman1
84269
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Riverman1 06/29/11 - 09:22 pm
0
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We'll take him and give you

We'll take him and give you Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman and three Commissioners.

howell2
0
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howell2 06/29/11 - 09:33 pm
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It is about time that

It is about time that somebody took the courage to stand up for what is right in Thomson. FIRE SCOTT HUFF AND KENNETH USRY. THEY ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW. Let the community know when people are gathering for this because I would have had a crowd there today to try to get them OUT!!!!

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 06/29/11 - 10:38 pm
0
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Good that people are standing

Good that people are standing up for what is right.

The Mayor should step down or be removed and at the very least an outside investigation should be completed for possible criminal charges.

If other employees have been fired for DUI or DUI, Less Safe as the sole basis for their termination then this employee should also be fired.

CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 06/30/11 - 07:14 am
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The mayor is wrong wrong
Unpublished

The mayor is wrong wrong wrong AND I'm amazed that the police officer stood by & allowed the mayor to just walk the guy away from the impending arrest! Come on already!!

curly123053
4676
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curly123053 06/30/11 - 07:15 am
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I smell something crooked in

I smell something crooked in Thomson.

burninater
9608
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burninater 06/30/11 - 07:52 am
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Sounds like this officer was

Sounds like this officer was raised on blind obedience to authority. I've known plenty of cops who would have told the Mayor "Sir, you would be advised to stand aside or I will be needing two sets of cuffs tonight."

TK3
562
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TK3 06/30/11 - 07:57 am
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Boss Hog and the "Good old

Boss Hog and the "Good old boy" type stuff still abounds.

Truth Be Told In Bold
0
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Truth Be Told In Bold 06/30/11 - 08:15 am
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The people of the City of

The people of the City of Thomson deserve better. A lot of mistakes were made on that stormy night, and they continue to be made now. Scott Huff made a bad decision when he went out DUI, and Mayor Ken Usry flubbed when he took the badge from his officers when he protected Huff from prosecution. Get someone from the outside to investigate the inside and get things righted. Be consistent with Huff. If a promise to not DUI was signed by Huff and if the penalty for doing so is termination, be gone Huff. Make the mayor know of the mistake he made in usurping the job of police officer, up to and including his censure or termination.

Sweet son
10428
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Sweet son 06/30/11 - 01:33 pm
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Looks like Lockett, the three

Looks like Lockett, the three amigos and the Baptist Ministers over in the Garden City but guess what? This time the Thomson group is right!

Eyes on you
0
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Eyes on you 06/30/11 - 02:59 pm
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Mr. Huff broke the law rules

Mr. Huff broke the law rules are rules and must be fair across the board for all employees wherever you work Mr. Usry broke the law as well. Mr Nelson broke the law by not allowing his officer to do his job. Mr. Nelson should have stood behind his employee and allowed his officer to take Mr. Huff and Mr. Usry into custody. So all Three should be terminated, there should be no gray area for anyone and no gray area as to who you are and what you can do verses someone else. Fire ALL 3 and clean up the City in one wipe while you are at it get the other people who have these over paid jobs that do nothing too ! Get some real leaders in there folks not these good ole boys who are puppets on strings!

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