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Police called after ex-official accused of threats

Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 11:09 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 12:04 AM
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An employee at the Columbia County Tax Commissioner’s office summoned police Wednesday after she said former Deputy Tax Commissioner Dwight Johnson came in and threatened the jobs of employees who made “statements about him.”

Johnson  JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
Johnson

Clerk Diane Chiera told deputies Johnson came into the Evans tag office about 11 a.m. and asked to speak with system administrator Debbie Washington for information on an abandoned vehicle he had purchased, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident report. The clerk told Johnson that Washington as unavailable and then fielded questions about the vehicle.

Johnson, who said felt he was getting the runaround from Washington, then asked the clerk if tag office employees were asked to write statements about him, according to the report.

According to the report, Johnson told the clerk that everybody who wrote statements about him would be gone once he gets back into the office. Chiera said Johnson then made a slashing motion to his throat.

In October, Johnson was fired by Tax Commissioner Kay Allen after $55 in cash went missing from her office in July.

Allen is under investigation for “alleged misconduct” involving more than $160,000 in additional compensation she collected from Harlem and Grovetown without the commission’s knowledge or consent.

In late December, the Columbia County Commission sent a letter to the governor’s office seeking Gov. Nathan Deal’s intervention in the controversy, after a two-month investigation by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and FBI.

A letter sent by Deal on Jan. 7 said Allen had 10 days to explain her actions or face removal from office.

In the report, the clerk said Johnson told her that he’d just talked with County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, who told him he’d met with the governor and “she is gone.”

Cross acknowledged on Thursday that he had met with Johnson, as indicated in the report; however, he denied telling him that Allen would be out of office. Instead, Cross said he told Johnson that Allen had received a letter from the governor’s office but Cross was unaware if she had yet replied.

In a phone interview Thursday, Johnson said he only spoke to Cross about their own futures.

“I talked to Ron Cross about my future and his future, and that’s all we talked about,” he said. “Because anything as far as Kay Allen’s future … is really nothing to talk about. We really have no idea.”

Johnson said he asked to speak with a manager because his motor vehicle issue was complicated. After he received help from the clerk, Johnson said he told her to have a nice day and left.

“I strictly went to the motor vehicle office for motor vehicle business,” said Johnson, adding that video surveillance and a witness will corroborate his story.

Johnson said he believes the filed report was a “calculated effort” by Allen to make him look bad.

Johnson, an employee for 15 years, was fired after returning to work from 12 weeks of medical leave. He denied any wrongdoing in the missing money and said his work relationship with Allen had deteriorated in May after telling her that he intended to run for tax commissioner in 2016. Allen said Johnson’s dismissal was entirely linked to his job performance.

Before he was fired, Johnson said Allen refused to allow him back to the Tax Commissioner’s office in Evans, ordering him to report to Kroger and stay there for eight hours.

Columbia County News-Times publisher Steve Crawford contributed to this story.

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Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 05:40 am
9
3
More Drama

You called the police because of what? You may not like what he says, but it's not against the law for him to say it. It's pretty obvious what happened here. I'd fire the whole office AND Johnson after Allen goes to jail.

ruleoflaw
209
Points
ruleoflaw 01/17/14 - 08:01 am
1
5
"It's pretty obvious what happened here"

RM,
I'd love to know what happened here, because I can't tell from the article. Looks like either one could be stirring this up, or both.
I don't understand why if Allen has been so cruel to her staff as reported, they would call deputies and make false statements on her behalf...especially since everyone thinks she will be gone shortly.
I do think it would be reasonable for the office to call deputies if they think there may be an incident, given the ongoing saga and hard feelings. If that is the case, why cover with the story about threatening behavior. Just stick to the "precaution" reasoning on calling the deputies.
It does look like Johnson is vying to be appointed interim TC if Allen gets the boot.
Lastly, that Cross would even engage Johnson in a conversation, particularly involving any details of this case, public record or not, makes me question Cross' relationship with Johnson...

ruleoflaw
209
Points
ruleoflaw 01/17/14 - 08:12 am
5
1
How did the clerk know?

If all Johnson did was go into the tag office to conduct business and tell the clerk to "have a nice day", how did the clerk know he had just come from a meeting with Ron Cross about the Allen issue? So Johnson did discuss a little more than the abandoned car with the clerk. It still doesn't resolve who is in the wrong here, or exactly what happened.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/17/14 - 09:44 am
4
0
No doubt in my mind that

No doubt in my mind that there is a cancer in the tag office. Time should reveal more and more where it eminates from.

seenitB4
84487
Points
seenitB4 01/17/14 - 10:15 am
7
1
Drama in another county

Well at least Richmond gets a break....:)

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/17/14 - 12:23 pm
3
5
There's nothing wrong,
Unpublished

There's nothing wrong, legally, with threatening whistleblowers? Riverman, you'd better check the federal laws. It is absolutely against the law to threaten employees like that.

Red Headed Step Child
4022
Points
Red Headed Step Child 01/17/14 - 12:45 pm
3
1
My only comment on these

My only comment on these alleged interactions is that if they are factual, then Dwight has damaged himself. Take the higher ground, conduct yourself professionally and let that speak for you. Engaging in what was perceived as retaliatory comments, etc. only makes you look bad and makes me question if you are indeed any better than what you made Allen out to be.

It's in times like these that cream rises to the top - hopefully Dwight hasn't curdled.

dchiera65
12
Points
dchiera65 01/17/14 - 01:08 pm
6
6
Facts

I am one of the employees that filed the incident report. I am not going to drag this out or make several comments. Let me just say that up until Wednesday, the employees have pretty much stayed out of it. No sides were chosen - we basically just wanted to stay out of it. However, when Dwight came in and said that he would fire whoever dared to make a statement about or against him, that is going too far. And it's not the first time. Ruleoflaw caught his error very quickly - I guess he didn't count on Mr. Cross revealing that they did indeed talk about Mrs. Allen.

I would also like to say that not all of Mrs. Allen's employees see her as an "intimidating bully" as a lot of commenters on here would like people to think. Mrs. Allen has always been kind, respectful and professional to me, most likely because I'm kind, respectful and professional right back to her. Relationships work well that way.

And lastly, before the "she's posting on county time!" comments - I'm on my lunch hour.

Have a good day.

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 01:17 pm
5
1
GAC...

GAC, I don't see saying you'll fire people as anything criminal. As far as Ron Cross, what did he do wrong? He talked to Johnson and admitted it. Johnson probably exaggerated what Cross told him. I mean that would just be human nature. But like I said, I'd fire Johnson, too, after Allen goes to jail.

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 01:21 pm
10
1
Dchiera65, you get an HOUR for lunch?

Dchiera65, you get an HOUR for lunch? Just kidding. I won't tell. But have you ever been told to walk around Kroger all day? How does that work? For little things that get to Kay Allen you have to go to the quick stop and walk around it or something? For things that get her to almost blow a gasket you have to walk around a big grocery store all day?

ruleoflaw
209
Points
ruleoflaw 01/17/14 - 01:56 pm
2
2
"after Allen goes to jail"

RM, don't be too hasty. I have yet to see clear evidence that she is in violation of the law. There has not been a ruling that I am aware of on the validity of contracts that predate the 2007 law. The Fulton County TC collects over $100K per year via city contracts, 3 times as much as Allen, right in the Governor's back yard. He uses the "contract predates the 2007 law" defense. Not one peep out of the Governor on that one, even though the Commission there has been after him for a couple of years.
I have not seen the existing contracts, or the contract dates published. Have they released those yet?? I also have not seen a statement from either Grovetown or Harlem that they have moved to cancel the existing contracts in order to form new ones with the County. That would have been the first order of business if I were in their position. We should find out the Allen defense shortly, as the 10 day response window is closing fast. I still think Cross is ill advised to talk about this matter to Johnson...he should steer clear of him until the dust settles.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/17/14 - 02:04 pm
4
0
I believe there is smoke and

I believe there is smoke and when the Gubna is called, there probably is more than an ember causing it. Whether we see a shread of evi or not, something ain't right.

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 02:28 pm
5
0
RuleofLaw, Clear Evidence

RuleofLaw, I must say you have persistently made sure Allen’s side is presented. But that’s fine. It’s good to know what she can possibly claim. My reply, the law is the law. It changed in 2007 and said nothing about existing contracts being allowed to remain. It was clear when the county went over the 50,000 parcel threshold that it was illegal for Allen to accept the fees.

The whole purpose of the law was to ensure the larger counties, the people if you will, received the money and not tax commissioners. She had been informed of the new law.

Fulton County can handle their problem any way they want, but to use some kind of claim that because the tax commissioner there is doing it too, that a synergistic effect of making it more likely to be legal is in place is foolish. The more who break the law the less illegal it is?

The fact the towns thought they were paying the county for the information is probably the most telling aspect of this whole matter. The towns knew the work was being done by county workers using county resources. How these checks were deposited is also important information. The bank information will be interesting. How income taxes were handled is also important.

Then we get into this whole matter of the secret, hand written bills with special return envelopes that only she touched. It’s obvious to all she was being deceitful and aware she was breaking the law. If the shoe fits, wear it. Jail.

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 03:14 pm
4
1
One Worry

One worry I have is that Deal met with Rick and Charles Allen privately in Savannah not long ago. What they talked about I’m unsure of. Rick is in a difficult position. He’s only human and doesn’t want to see his sister-in-law end up in prison. That leads me to believe Deal is going to be lenient.

The truth is I doubt jail is appropriate for her even though I say it often. What it should be is so close to prison that she hurts. I mean probation with all kinds of conditions and giving that money back to the people of Columbia County.

Rick is a good, conservative Republican and I hope this doesn’t hurt him. I’m sure he’s embarrassed by Kay Allen’s actions.

ruleoflaw
209
Points
ruleoflaw 01/17/14 - 03:01 pm
1
5
"the law is the law"

But RM, a law is not retroactive, so there is a limit to the ability to invalidate an existing contract. This is why I had asked the question on the contract dates. If the contract in question was written in 2006 and was for 10 years. The law will not end that contract. Typically the contracting parties could move to end the contract via the mechanism within the contract that provides for such. But the Commission, nor the Legislature can write a law that ends an existing contract. But there is a simple solution: Columbia County petitions Harlem and Grovetown to end the contracts, provided there is an out clause. This is not as simple as most here would like it to be. That is why the County asked Doug Batchelor to give a legal opinion on the matter. Also, as to employees being the County resources, they are the Tax Commisioner Office employees and serve at the pleasure of the Tax Commisioner. She has a budget established by the Commission, but it is hers to manage. If she can handle the County's business as well as the city taxes she collects within this budget, she may be within her right to utilize the county employees for this. As to Fulton County, I am not arguing that because they do it, it makes it OK. I am saying if this was blatently illegal, as you and most others here say, that being in Atlanta proper, this would have been vetted by the legal community there and the Governor. Since I have not heard a legal opinion on Fulton County, I assume the law is not clear on the matter of existing contracts, or they have been deemed legal.

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 03:20 pm
5
1
Blatant

So you don’t think it’s blatant. Do you think Allen can have these county paid employees wash her car and trim her toenails as conditions of their employment? This contract thing must be her defense the way you are going at it.

When Columbia County met the 50,000 parcel threshold, any existing personal contracts with Allen were voided and any fees from the towns should have been returned to the people of Columbia County. I hope you are not seriously suggesting she didn’t know the law had changed? This brings up a civil issue, too. She should be sued by the county for the money she pocketed.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3099
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 01/17/14 - 03:40 pm
3
2
Sorry Ruleoflaw

Law CAN supercede Contract.

I'll give you a simple to understand concept:

Slaveowners had contracts to own slaves. When slavery was abolished (law) the right (contract) to own slaves was taken away. It didn't matter if the slaveowner.entered into a lifetime contract the minute before slavery was abolished; he no longer could LEGALLY own a slave (in specified States, of course).

There are few exceptions where contracts stand after a law is passed or changed.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/17/14 - 03:43 pm
5
0
Regardless of anything else,

Regardless of anything else, does the tax commissioner really feel that her services for the smaller cities warrant that much money in her pocket as it were? Disregard that it was illegal. As a principle, does she sincerely believe she was rightfully entitled to all that money for work done in the manner it was done in?

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 04:47 pm
4
1
Tax Commissioner Election

Imagine an election for Tax Commissioner. I'm going to put in my pocket the hundreds of thousands of dollars I make from having my office employees get the info from the towns and billing their residents. What was that Hillary Clinton like statement from Kay Allen? It's my money, what does it matter how I got it or something like that.

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 05:43 pm
0
1
"But RM, a law is not

"But RM, a law is not retroactive, so there is a limit to the ability to invalidate an existing contract."

Is that taught in third tier law schools?

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/17/14 - 07:06 pm
2
0
Riverman, threatening to fire
Unpublished

Riverman, threatening to fire WHISTLEBLOWERS is a federal offense. He didn't threaten to fire people for something they did wrong, he threatened them for making official statements or complaints about him. That is illegal, IF he really did threaten them.

sayin it as i see it
18
Points
sayin it as i see it 01/17/14 - 07:09 pm
1
1
Uh...point of fact

Rule of Law states "Also, as to employees being the County resources, they are the Tax Commisioner Office employees and serve at the pleasure of the Tax Commisioner.". Ok, except that 90% of the actual work that she took the money for is done by the Tax Assessors office. We do the review of each parcel annually in Harlem and Grovetown. We set the values for each parcel, handle appeals from homeowners and then send the values to the tax comm. office. Then they print the bills and send them out, receive payments and supposedly make deposits. We do not serve at the pleasure of kay allen or her office. We are a separate entity. And yes, I am one of the people doing the leg work in the Tax Assessors office.

dec0608
166
Points
dec0608 01/17/14 - 07:47 pm
3
0
Fact

Dchiera65 stated that not all of Kay Allen's employees see her as a "intimidating bully". You are right not all do, just most of them. With that being said... Kay and Dwight both are "intimidating bullies". I have seen it and so have others in that office. Kay believes she is untouchable and so does Dwight.

Riverman1
81548
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 08:48 pm
0
1
GAC said, "Riverman,

GAC said, "Riverman, threatening to fire WHISTLEBLOWERS is a federal offense. He didn't threaten to fire people for something they did wrong, he threatened them for making official statements or complaints about him."

Ah, but it could be the whistle blower is Johnson and he was being falsely accused by the people he confronted. Fire um all.

corgimom
30385
Points
corgimom 01/17/14 - 09:05 pm
1
3
Karen, slavery was never a

Karen, slavery was never a contract. You need two willing parties to enter into a contract, and I think a whole bunch of those slaves weren't willing.

And ruleoflaw is right, the law cannot supercede an existing contract- as long as it was done in good faith. Hence we have the unions exempt from Obamacare, because they have existing contracts. Once the contracts are up, however, then the law applies.

corgimom
30385
Points
corgimom 01/17/14 - 09:06 pm
2
3
But by the way, Karen- I

But by the way, Karen- I STILL want to come to any party you go to, it would be a guaranteed good time!

Little Lamb
44974
Points
Little Lamb 01/17/14 - 10:40 pm
3
1
Weird

The weird thing I see is this: this fired employee Dwight Johnson is threatening to fire employees who answer deposition questions regarding his actions before he was fired.

That is serious ego, man! This Johnson guy thinks that Governor Deal or Ron Cross and other commissioners will make Johnson the acting commissioner after Kay Allen is stripped of her position and before an election is held. What arrogance!

How in the world does Johnson think he can win an election for tax commissioner at this point?

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3099
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 01/18/14 - 01:41 pm
2
1
Thanks for the compliment Corgimom but not so fast

You may want to read up a little more on slavery & the contracts thereof. Slaves were bought & sold between slaveowners & those whose "property" (as slaves were considered pre-Emanicpation Proclamation) ownership was transfered was done so by a legal & BINDING contract.

Those contracts of ownership were abolished effective January 1, 1863 by law enacted by the President of the United States signature on such proclamation.

So slavery absolutely WAS a contract & law definitely did supercede such contract.

www.measuringworth.com/slavery.php

2nd paragraph.

ruleoflaw
209
Points
ruleoflaw 01/19/14 - 09:33 am
0
1
Correction RM and Karen

Just getting back to this article....I meant to write "the law" rather than "a law". Specifically this law did not invalidate existing contracts, which it could have done. When enacted there were several counties, Fulton County being one, that were targeted for this legislation. Had the writers wanted to, they could have written "within one year after crossing the 50,000 parcel threshold, any existing contracts between municipalities and the Tax Commissioner of the effected county shall be ended. Any new contracts shall be subject to the rules defined within this legislation."

This would have ended the very contracts the Legislation had a problem with.

Also Karen, the 13th Amendment did not end the ownership transfer contracts of slaveholders, it changed the status of the slaves from property, thus ending ownership. This is similar to an ownership transfer of a handgun between parties, fully satisfied, then the Gov't bans guns. It does not nullify the contract, just invalidates ownership. It is mumbo jumbo, but that would be the argument...

D D DOG
97
Points
D D DOG 01/20/14 - 04:13 am
0
1
What is really going on?
Unpublished

Johnson is being crusified because K.A. just wants to take the attention off of her. She continues to threaten employees to get what she wants. Anyone that really knows this woman is well aware how mean and manipulative she is. Present employees should be ashamed of their self for stooping to Allens tricks. Especially the long term employees. The tag/tax office is under constant video survelance. Let us see the video and expose the real liars. Bet you a quarter the video won't be shown and some b.s story will be concocted about the video. Johnson has helped all these employees for years and doesn't deserve this. I will pray for all involved and may remind all that Hell is just as hot as ever. Has anyone read the letter K.A attorneys wrote to Governor Deal. I have never read a bigger load of crap in my life. Sarah Palin said it very well when she said you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig. How well this fits. Well if Gov. Deal doesn't man up then Uncle Sam will. Lets not forget,Kay Allen is the problem here as this is not the first time she has inappropiately used tax dollars. Certain Commissioners are well aware of the previous times,and nothing was done then either. Just business as usual !!!!!!!!!! nuf said

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