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Thomson worker in drinking and driving incident out on medical leave

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Scott Huff, a city public works supervisor who was suspended for 10 days for driving a city vehicle after drinking, did not return to work Tuesday as scheduled.

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A demand for Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry (left) to resign has been made in response to his actions June 18.   File/Staff
File/Staff
A demand for Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry (left) to resign has been made in response to his actions June 18.

City Administrator Don Powers said Huff is on medical leave. He did not say how long the leave was expected to last.

Powers spoke in response to a question from a reporter after a called, closed-door city council meeting held to discuss personnel issues.

Huff's suspension and the incident that led to it have Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry under fire.

Last week, a group of more than 100 people gathered outside city hall to demand the mayor's resignation. Usry would not say whether he plans to step down.

The mayor did say he would cooperate with any investigation of his handling of an incident involving a city supervisor who admitted driving a city vehicle after drinking.

The group at city hall, led by the Rev. Fred Favors, also demanded that Huff, the director of water, sewer and gas in the city's public works department, be fired. It called for an investigation by state authorities.

After a severe storm the night of June 18, Huff drove a city vehicle to an area where a tree had fallen. Police said they smelled alcohol on his breath, and they began administering a field sobriety test.

As that test was being conducted, Usry arrived. After talking briefly with Huff and the officers, Usry took Huff home in the city vehicle.

Police had not given Huff a blood-alcohol test at that point, so he could not be charged with DUI, they said, although they told the mayor they thought Huff was clearly drunk, according to a police report and an officer's lapel-mike recording.

In a statement read by Favors, the group that assembled at City Hall also asked that the city council look into whether Huff's suspension was consistent with disciplinary actions against other city employees.

Constance Starr doesn't believe it was.

Starr, who was at the June 29 gathering, was fired May 25 after she was charged with DUI. She was also driving on a suspended license because of a previous DUI conviction, she said.

She was not driving a city vehicle and was not on the job when she was cited. She said she was charged although she was below the 0.08 percent blood-alcohol mark at which a driver is considered legally drunk.

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

She is not the first public employee in McDuffie County to charge officials with inconsistency in the administration of disciplinary action.

Susan Smith, an employee in the county roads department, was given a three-day suspension in the spring for changing an employee's pay record under orders from her supervisor.

The change was made to reconcile what the employee was being paid with what he had been told he would be paid, but McDuffie County Manager Don Norton has said the proper procedure was not followed.

In her appeal hearing before the commission in May, Smith said that she was disciplined for not going to Norton over the issue, which Norton says she knew was wrong. She said, however, that she hesitated to go to Norton because another employee had been fired earlier this year for going over her department head.

That was apparently a reference to Valerie Demons, who was fired in February by Information Technology Director Raymond White.

Demons' issue also involved Huff, who had asked Demons to transfer his contacts and other information to his new city BlackBerry.

Huff complained to Norton that Demons had not made the transfers as quickly as he wanted.

Demons complained in turn to Powers and was fired.

The county commission voted in March to overturn Demons' firing from IT, which is a city-county department.

Smith's appeal is pending. The commission delayed ruling on it in May and again in June because a full board was not present for those meetings.

Comments (13) Add comment
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TK3
562
Points
TK3 07/07/11 - 05:50 am
0
0
Appears Boss Hog (Jr) and the

Appears Boss Hog (Jr) and the Good Old Boy system thrives outside of Augusta also. How long before a lawsuit over good buddies Usry and Huff and some others..oh right, they can't talk about that.
G.B.I. and citizens need to totally clean house along with local political parties that pick and put these good old boys on the ticket.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 07/07/11 - 06:53 am
0
0
Sounds like they've got a lot

Sounds like they've got a lot of stuff going on behind closed doors. What's done in the dark will always come to the light.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 07/07/11 - 03:04 pm
0
0
Only if someone shines the

Only if someone shines the light behind those closed government doors where the sun don't shine Patty-P as few whistle blowers willing to come forward anymore due to so little done about the problems when they do and they are the ones to suffer.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 07/07/11 - 03:15 pm
0
0
When I worked in corporate

When I worked in corporate America, we had plenty of "professional" disability claimers.

If you cracked down on them for their non-performace at work - i.e through a written warning or whatever, they would mysteriously turn up "sick" very soon thereafter due to stress or some other made up ailment.

By doing this they made it impossible to fire them. Sounds like Mr. Huff got the memo.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 07/07/11 - 09:41 pm
0
0
TK3... you are right. Thats

TK3... you are right. Thats too bad because it affects everyone in the long run.

ha.really
0
Points
ha.really 07/08/11 - 10:27 am
0
0
I wondered why Candy was

I wondered why Candy was standing beside Fred Favors on TV... She feels she was wrongfully fired after getting herself 2 DUI's n driving on a suspended license. Really? Her claim that she wasn't on city time is invalid. The city doesn't need anybody with a drinking problem (proven by DUI's) driving around - even in a street sweeper! Operation
0-tollerance means driving while intoxicated = DUI. Goes to show
u - God don't like ugly and when u wrong somebody - it ALWAYS comes back to haunt you. Even if it takes a couple years...

Imzadi
8
Points
Imzadi 07/09/11 - 12:11 pm
0
0
Sounds too much like what is

Sounds too much like what is going on in a certain Department of The City Of North Augusta. A certain person in city uniform getting off work and goes straight to a bar, getting drunk and then driving home (Edgefield county is obvioiusly not up to the task of finding this out). And SHE is a department Superintendant who has a history of wielding her authority at anyone she does not like and finding ways to get rid of them. I guess you people on the other side of the river are not immune to arrogant city superrvisors either.

Red Moon
3
Points
Red Moon 07/10/11 - 07:24 pm
0
0
How can the Thomson Police

How can the Thomson Police dept. arrest anyone for DUI knowing that they released an admitted alcoholic and wife abuser. Everyone that was fired by the city of Thomson should file a lawsuit immediately if you were not given preferencial treatment like Mr. Huff. The Chief should let the people of Thomson know where his arrest powers originated. The Officer had probable cause and the Mayor did violate the execution of his sworn duties.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 07/11/11 - 07:16 am
0
0
Appears little Boss Hog is

Appears little Boss Hog is drunk with power and corrupting the legal system is more than a little staggering...it is for the people to make him legally sober or dismiss him now."

GGpap
528
Points
GGpap 07/11/11 - 08:53 pm
0
0
I do not intend to either

I do not intend to either support or convict Mayor Usry in this matter but......

For this article to have been, and still is, on the Yahoo Homepage (news) site since 7-7-11 appears to be outright unconscionable media harassment of the mayor to the Nth degree.

What goes?

GGpap

TK3
562
Points
TK3 07/12/11 - 06:24 am
0
0
GGpap it might be because it

GGpap it might be because it is a ongoing story as I heard the State was investigating but never fear the Good Old Boy System seldom finds fault or punishes its own so it may well be swept under the press rug soon.
Course now every area drunk driver will expect the good Mayor to come and save him from the cops also.

DrBailey
38
Points
DrBailey 07/12/11 - 10:30 pm
0
0
GGpap, I would say it's more

GGpap, I would say it's more likely that the AC staff hasn't updated the news feed to Yahoo yet.

GGpap
528
Points
GGpap 07/12/11 - 11:43 pm
0
0
DrBailey, perhaps the best

DrBailey, perhaps the best answer...although, I'm still left wonderin' :-)

But, thanks for your response.

GGpap

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