Firing of worker upheld by panel

Ex-accountant walks out on personnel board hearing

Augusta's personnel board took less than 10 minutes Wednesday to uphold the termination of Engineering Department accountant Eric Loggins in January for insubordination and workplace violence.


It did not appear to matter to Loggins, however, who left his personnel hearing before the end, accusing the members of having their minds already made up.

"That's why the city's in court," Loggins said. "I watch the news. See you in court."

During Wednesday's 21/2-hour hearing, Loggins called his wife, a lawyer, to testify, but apparently sought little guidance from her on questioning the city's seven or eight witnesses. All disputed the allegation that Loggins had reported to police: that Engineering Director Abie Ladson pushed and injured him Jan. 25 after Loggins tried to complain about a co-worker.

Ladson testified instead that he had told Loggins to go to Human Resources with his complaint but that Loggins refused and went repeatedly into his office. Ladson said he never touched Loggins and found out only later that Loggins showed up at Human Resources with medication and his arm in a sling.

"I felt uneasy because of the commotion that was going on," said Engineering secretary Jeanette White, who had called her husband when Loggins said something about "police" before leaving the building. Loggins said he had asked someone to report the incident because his cellphone wasn't working.

Administrative assistant Shelette McCrae said she called Human Resources afterward to advise that Engineering "had an irate employee."

Traffic Engineering Assistant Director Steve Cassell testified he heard no commotion but skipped a monthly meeting the next morning because he had found the female employees sitting outside in a car, afraid.

Rather than question the witnesses, Loggins mainly argued with them, drawing frequent objections from deputy general counsel Jody Smitherman.

"Why didn't you file a warrant?" asked board member Chip Barbee, who was elected chairman of the personnel board Wednesday.

"I spoke with the sheriff myself on the situation," Loggins said. "He told me to wait and see what's going on with the personnel board today."

"Why didn't you call when you got outside the door?" asked board member J.R. Riles, one of five who made up the quorum deciding Loggins' fate, after Loggins said he couldn't call from inside because of bad reception.

"I'm done talking -- this is a cover-up," Loggins said.

"We're not here to represent the city," said Riles, who made the motion to uphold the termination. "This board is here to make sure you were treated fairly."