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Richmond County recreation employee involved in comp time incident demoted

Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:36 PM
Last updated Friday, May 4, 2012 2:00 AM
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Melinda Pearson, the operations manager involved in a time card incident that cost Richmond County Recreation Director Tom Beck his job, has been demoted to an hourly maintenance worker.

Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan confirmed that Pearson was reassigned to the job at a lesser salary Wednesday based on his investigation into the incident.

Pearson, who earned $60,017 to oversee maintenance of the city’s parks, had a spotty employment record that included numerous reprimands and letters of concern about her frequent absences from work, according to documents obtained by The Chronicle.

Documents indicated Pearson took four paid days off in December only three weeks after taking 10 weeks of paid leave donated to her by fellow employees. Beck signed off on her time card, which stated she worked the four days, but claimed it was common practice to pay employees for unrecorded “comp time” after they work extra long hours for recreation and other events.

Citing the time card incident and City Administrator Fred Russell’s recommendation, the commission voted 8-1 to fire Beckon April 23.

Pearson’s request for comp time wasn’t the first. In 1999, she was denied a similar request by then-assistant Recreation and Parks Director Robert Howard, although Howard said in a memo that a previous recreation director had permitted her to take it as an exempt employee.

She was reprimanded in 1995 for not inspecting vehicles in the shop yard, leading to a break-in being overlooked.

In 1997, Beck reprimanded her for not warning drivers to stay off private property while in city vehicles.

While in her probationary period as operations manager, Pearson in 1997 was offered a transfer back to recreation specialist but instead accepted an extension of her probationary period as operations manager. Still in her probationary period a few months later, Beck warned Pearson about leaving the maintenance shop before the end of the 4:30 p.m. workday, something she “evidently” did on a regular basis, the letter stated. “What kind of example are you setting?” Beck wrote. “You are a manager! (on probation).”

The same year she was reprimanded for not checking employee driver’s licenses.

She was reprimanded in 1998 four times: for not following purchasing policies; handling a disagreement with a subordinate publicly; not taking care of a weed problem at a community center and for closing the entire operations division at 3:15 p.m. Dec. 18.

The same year, she was out of work for 25 days.

In December 1999, the driver’s license issue came up again, and it was discovered an employee paid to drive city vehicles hadn’t had a license since October.

Also in 1999, Pearson was placed on leave with pay after an incident on Bobby Jones Expressway. There wasn’t much detail about it in the record, but a letter from a deputy administrator said Pearson, in her city car, “attempted to perform duties that are normally reserved for deputies” because she “believed a co-worker was in danger.”

Using her personal vehicle for work also got Pearson warned. In 2001, she said she did it because “she was taking strong medication.”

In 2002, she allowed inmates to work in unauthorized areas and was placed on leave without pay for two days for consuming alcohol while on the job.

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Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/03/12 - 01:04 pm
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It's a start.

It's a start.

sassylassie
368
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sassylassie 05/04/12 - 07:35 am
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For this individual to still

For this individual to still have a job is amazing. I'd be willing to bet there are 10 other people in this town who could do this job more efficiently and who would actually be at work most days!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/04/12 - 08:39 am
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The article does not say what

The article does not say what year Pearson was hired into Parks & Recreation, but apparently she was promoted to manager around 1997. After a rough patch with reprimands (not uncommon for a new manager) in 97 - 99, she got one last reprimand in 2002. Apparently that was her last reprimand. One must assume that she has had a good work record for the last ten years.

However, her excessive time off needs to be looked into. Even is she is sick, sometimes it is time to pull the plug.

palmetto1008
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palmetto1008 05/04/12 - 09:53 am
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WOW....Beck is fired and this

Unpublished

WOW....Beck is fired and this woman still has a job. If anything, Beck should have been fired for not firing her long ago.
Someone is protecting this woman's back....and Beck is the fall guy.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/04/12 - 10:53 am
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Beck has a lawyer and you can

Beck has a lawyer and you can bet they are preparing a wrongful termination lawsuit as we post.

raul
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raul 05/04/12 - 01:27 pm
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Normally a reprimand is

Normally a reprimand is considered to be the least severe of formal disciplinary actions and are normally purged from the personnel file after a specified period of time. I guess the city doesn't have the same policy. Warnings/reprimands that old would carry little, if any, weight in taking a termination action now. What is surprising is Ms. Pearson continued to receive warnings and reprimands rather than stronger disciplinary penalties normally used in a progressive disciplinary policy. If that would have been the case, she would have been gone ten years ago.

lauren_h
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lauren_h 05/04/12 - 03:56 pm
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for all those

for all those ill-informed!!!

my name is lauren and melinda pearson is my mother. i understand everyone is entitled to their own opinions but to take such a strong stand without knowing all the information is wrong. over the past 30+ years that my mom has been with the county it has been nothing but hell for us as a family and personally for her. she has been a single mother of three basically our whole lives. my oldest brother is 25, im 23 years old and my younger brother is 22. i wish you all would take a chance to learn the truth before jumping to conclusions. my mom has always done the best she could being a single mother of three and working for this company. she has more than given 100% to them. blood, sweat and her health has been what they have taken from her. the records you all have formed your opinions on are vauge at best and the entire situation has been made into something its not. i wish i could give you all a play by play of the horror that has been my mothers job since she was 17 years old. but i cannot. im not asking for pity just a little respect for my mother and grandmother. my mom has fought for her job with all she has. even when they didnt want her to have it. she has battled with the same issues your all so upset for and more for what? to be slandered and have her reputation ruined! she deserves for you all to understand the truth. and one day hopefully you all will. i would also like to kindly ask that anyone who feels they need to bring my grandmothers name up. please reconsider. i dont feel that you all should throw her name around because my grandmother did not want my mother working for the county and begged my mom many times to walk away. linda beazley was a wonderful, kind and caring woman and anyone who says different should be ashamed. she did so much for the state of georgia and anyone she met. she lived her life by the words of god and would never bring or wish harm on anyone. all im asking is she be given the same respect. things have not been easy for our family since her passing in sept. last year, and though sept is fastly approaching again it is still a fresh wound and i just ask that you respect our family enough to not mention her in this troubled time. thank you all so much. i wish you all the best and may god bless you all. Lauren!

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 05/04/12 - 04:31 pm
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Union "labor". The aclu

Unpublished

Union "labor". The aclu should step in, with the assistance of the naacp, and fight this eggregious demotion. Poor job performance is no reason to relieve a guvmint employee of their free ride, I mean, meal ticket, oops I meant livelihood.

Beachbum4ever
4
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Beachbum4ever 05/04/12 - 04:49 pm
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Well said Lauren. It will

Well said Lauren. It will all come to light and people will see thing for what they really are!

Discussionstarter
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Discussionstarter 05/05/12 - 06:40 pm
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This whole event has turned

This whole event has turned into a vindictive, mud-slinging, politically-driven event. Our focus should be on the lack of leadership by the Commissioners, Mayor, and the HR department for not having compliance measures in place. Augusta government reeks of incompetence. I hope Beck and Pearson go to court and win big money. Oh, I forgot Fred; he should be the first one fired.

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