No settlement reached in city engineer firing

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The city still has not reached a financial settlement with a former city engineer over a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Augusta Commissioners Don Grantham and Jerry Brigham said Tuesday that Teresa Smith has not accepted the $125,000 the city offered her to settle the suit. Ms. Smith filed suit in U.S. District Court in July 2007, alleging that her firing was racially motivated. According to court records, the judge closed the lawsuit on technical grounds last month with instructions to attorneys to report back within two months about any possible settlement.

Mr. Brigham said the city offered Ms. Smith $125,000 about two weeks ago.

"There's no agreement right now, let's put it that way. I think that means we're going to court," he said.

Mr. Grantham said, "We're not making any more offers.''

Commissioners had earlier declined to discuss the issue after a closed legal meeting Tuesday. City Attorney Chiquita Johnson later confirmed in an e-mail that a settlement had not been reached.

Her response came after The Augusta Chronicle sought documents pertaining to the settlement in a Sept. 25 Open Records request. The city refused to release the documents, saying they were confidential. In a Sept. 29 letter to the city, the newspaper said the city couldn't assert confidentiality, and it restated that position Tuesday.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Johnson informed the newspaper's attorney, David Hudson, that there were no documents to view because there was no settlement.

Ms. Smith, who is black, contends that her ability to complete engineering projects was crippled when commissioners allowed the only other licensed engineers to transfer out of her department when she was put in charge. She also contends she was paid less than other department heads.

City commissioners voted to fire her in December 2005, citing complaints from businesses that dealt with the engineering department under her leadership, The Chronicle has reported.

According to court records, Ms. Smith received good evaluations before her termination. The city, in response to discovery requests, was unable to produce any letters from local businessmen complaining about Ms. Smith.

Reach Sandy Hodson and Johnny Edwards at (706) 724-0851.

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omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 10/07/09 - 02:44 am
0
0
aint we thrown enough money

aint we thrown enough money away on X-Mart? Now we gotta feed more lawyers? No way the city will walk out of this without losing half a million.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/07/09 - 03:00 am
0
0
If it wasn't for Fred Russell

If it wasn't for Fred Russell giving her glowing job approval ratings then she would likely be getting nothing. But because of ole Fred, we the taxpayers are going to be out hundreds of thousands of dollars. The woman was incompetent, everyone seemed to know it, except for Fred Russell.

Just My Opinion
5456
Points
Just My Opinion 10/07/09 - 05:00 am
0
0
I think Fred Russell probably

I think Fred Russell probably knew that this chick was incompetent, he just didn't want to put it down on the evaluation. I've seen it happen hundreds of times when a weak employer will give someone a passing evaluation for one of 2 reasons...either the passing eval would qualify a person for a puny annual raise that the employer would hate to deny the employee in these rough economic times...or the employer just doesn't want to face the bad attitudes and heartache that would surely come after giving the employee a bad eval. People (employees) have to realize that they are adults and should get judged on their weak job performance. It's not fair to have a slacker getting all the benefits of the harder-working employees. Think about it....we all have worked with slackers and know how unfair it is that they get away with as much as they do. Having said that, I don't know if Teresa Smith is a slacker or not, but it sounds like she is based on the comments from the people her department was supposed to serve.

WhippingPost
1
Points
WhippingPost 10/07/09 - 06:04 am
0
0
Affirmative action is going

Affirmative action is going to cost the city again. Political correctness is a tough way to run a business, even government business.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 10/07/09 - 06:15 am
0
0
Why should the City pay this

Why should the City pay this incompetent do-nothing ANY money?? By giving her a settlement just to make her go away is admitting guilt....the city owes this person nothing...the only ones keeping this sham going are the bottom feeding scum sucking lawyers...

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 10/07/09 - 07:05 am
0
0
Yeah, like that "Chick"

Yeah, like that "Chick" Palin, she was probably incompetent. Yeah, we know old Fred was scared of Smith.

WhippingPost
1
Points
WhippingPost 10/07/09 - 07:12 am
0
0
Wow 4u, how consistent.

Wow 4u, how consistent. Totally thoughtless and meaningless, again. LOL

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 10/07/09 - 07:14 am
0
0
Whatever, chronic whiner.

Whatever, chronic whiner.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 10/07/09 - 07:33 am
0
0
LOL ispy WTH has Palin got to

LOL ispy WTH has Palin got to do with this?....Is there a way for you to put President Bush into this argument too?....funny little one.

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 10/07/09 - 07:42 am
0
0
No,its a way to show how

No,its a way to show how disrespectful it is to call any female a "Chick".You would not like your wife or Mother referred to as a "Chick"?It shows a lack of moral upbringing. As far as Bush is concerned, unlike you and your ILK, I do not bring Bush or Obama into every conversation.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 10/07/09 - 07:46 am
0
0
ispy4u, sounds like you're

ispy4u, sounds like you're the chronic whiner. good Lord, does every comment thread have to degenerate into Bush v Obama or black v white? Stay on topic people!

justus4
99
Points
justus4 10/07/09 - 07:59 am
0
0
It had been reported that
Unpublished

It had been reported that local businessmen had issues with Ms. Smith's work performance, but this article states that the city "was unable" to produce any written complaints. Wow! That means that not only was she discriminated against and wrongfully terminated, but that the complaints about her from local businesses were only rumors. Her case was blantant and based on race and she can be easily prove it, however, there is a limit to damages and she should put her lawyer on notice not to over-lawyer. She now knows discrimination exist in her former workplace and finding it in other places is not hard to do.

1941
4
Points
1941 10/07/09 - 08:06 am
0
0
If she was so incompetent,

If she was so incompetent, why was there no records of it? If the commisoners were right in letting her go, why make an offer, for the problem to go away?They got caught, trying to get rid of someone who would not stand down!! I hope she take them for all she can!!

thankgodforaugusta
0
Points
thankgodforaugusta 10/07/09 - 08:12 am
0
0
i just wish i had the money

i just wish i had the money augusta pays out in settlements that would be better than winning the lottery black or white is a terrible way to run a government or anything else for that matter

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 10/07/09 - 08:22 am
0
0
Just because there is no

Just because there is no documents from businesses does not mean there weren't complaints. It just means that someone had poor record keeping. If Ms. Smith was falsely terminated then she does deserve a settlement but dang I'd like to get $125,000. 1941, you say I hope she takes them for all she can, but in reality, she's taking US for all she can because it's our tax money that's paying her in this settlement.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/07/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
I still think she is going to

I still think she is going to be sorry for not taking the settlement. Remember the Jury will have members of the caucasian race on it and like it or not, some of those folks see the race card as simply something that is raised a little too quickly and too often. Those are the jury votes that could deny her anything.

convertedsoutherner
2
Points
convertedsoutherner 10/07/09 - 09:24 am
0
0
To say her firing was solely

To say her firing was solely on race shows the lack of intelligence of those posting the usual race card. She was replaced by a black man that is doing an excellent job, with no complaints.

brownskin30434
2
Points
brownskin30434 10/07/09 - 09:24 am
0
0
We automatically accept the

We automatically accept the City of Augusta's word that Teresa Smith was incompetent. There words and their actions contradict each other. They say she was fired because she was incompetent, yet they offer to settle. Something don't add up.

convertedsoutherner
2
Points
convertedsoutherner 10/07/09 - 09:29 am
0
0
Her atty got her trial

Her atty got her trial transferred and to get witnesses, lawyers and others transported to that area, it will cost taxpayers a lot of extra money. They offered to settle so the Augusta taxpayers wouldn't have to absorb that extra expense. She knew she was incompetent and should have settled.

MrAlwaysRight
0
Points
MrAlwaysRight 10/07/09 - 09:34 am
0
0
"It's cheaper to keep her" ~

"It's cheaper to keep her" ~ seen on a wall in RCHR.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 10/07/09 - 09:46 am
0
0
Just because the City of

Just because the City of Augusta offered to settle does not indicate guilt. Most law suits are settled before going to court because it's cheaper. I don't know if Ms. Smith is innocent or guilty but seems to me if they are saying some area businesses complained, whether they have it in writing or not, when it goes to court they can subpoena these businesses to testify. If her position was filled by a black man how can she say it was racial?

grinder48
1884
Points
grinder48 10/07/09 - 09:48 am
0
0
Racial discrimination in this
Unpublished

Racial discrimination in this case is ridiculous. The gross incompetency of Smith was well known and documented. It's morally unjust to claim racial discrimination when an employer must terminate someone for incompetency. How many "minority" personnel does Aug/Rich employ? How does that ratio compare with the overall population of Aug/Rich? If Aug/Rich practices racial discrimination, how do so many "minorities" have such long careers with Aug/Rich? Repeat - racial discrimination in this case is ridiculous.

Roeschen
1
Points
Roeschen 10/07/09 - 10:07 am
0
0
She was originally fired

She was originally fired when? 2005? Her attorney filed a suit then claiming race and sex discrimination. This lady has no clue how to do her job but she sure can use the race card. This is another example of affirmative action that has gone bad.

DontdrinkdaKoolaid
0
Points
DontdrinkdaKoolaid 10/07/09 - 10:28 am
0
0
Lets face it, she wasn't

Lets face it, she wasn't fired because she was black. She was HIRED because she was a black woman, AA at it's best.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 10/07/09 - 10:32 am
0
0
She wasn't qualified to begin

She wasn't qualified to begin with. How much money has already been spent paying her for leave with full pay while they were trying to fire her??? At one point her job responsibilities were cut in half as she retained her full salary. The fact that all of the Engineers left because they couldn't work with her and the jobs remained vacant, should be a clue.

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 10/07/09 - 10:36 am
0
0
OMNO,show me a post where I

OMNO,show me a post where I was whining?You cannot because you are just one of Whipping ILK. Like I stated it is disrespectful,IMHO to refer to anyone as a "Chick". If that is considered whining,then so be it.

Roeschen
1
Points
Roeschen 10/07/09 - 10:40 am
0
0
ispy4u - get over it. If

ispy4u - get over it. If that is the worst you are ever called, be greatful. In some places, that is a word of endearment. BTW - my husband called me Chick for years. What is the big deal?

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 10/07/09 - 10:51 am
0
0
ROESCHEN just because you

ROESCHEN just because you like to be disrespected, does not mean that other women do. I will get over disrespect to women when you get over Obama being President.

Roeschen
1
Points
Roeschen 10/07/09 - 11:10 am
0
0
ispy4u - explain to me how

ispy4u - explain to me how this is disrespectful? Its just a slang term for girl or woman. Like in chick-flick or chick magnet. What difference does it make. Of course, maybe you would rather be called witch.

Roeschen
1
Points
Roeschen 10/07/09 - 11:14 am
0
0
BTW - I didn't consider my

BTW - I didn't consider my husband calling me "Chick" disrespectful. He called me that as a term of endearment.

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