Why reward incompetence?

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We hear a lot about "reform" these days, especially when it comes to health care. Then there's tax reform, welfare reform, tort reform, campaign finance reform and more. We could also use entitlement reform, as Social Security and Medicare are headed for the rocks.

But the Chiquita Johnson case makes clear that we also desperately need employment reform.

How is it that an employee being forced to resign for, among other things, abusing her purchasing privileges can seemingly have her employer over a barrel?

Why else would the city of Augusta agree to pay the erstwhile and utterly failed city attorney nine months' severance -- three more months than her contract calls for -- as well as make good on her lease of an apartment and, most outrageously, to write a letter of reference for her?

If an employee is essentially forced out, why should employers be forced to lie about that? Doesn't that just kick the can down the road -- and burden a future employer?

That's basically what happened to Augusta in Johnson's hiring in 2007. She had been fired nine months before by a state agency. Augusta officials say that agency told them she left voluntarily. In fact, records suggest she was fired for misuse of her purchasing card.

Augusta officials may want to claim they were had -- but her resignation this week includes a stipulation that Augusta will claim in the future that she voluntarily resigned. And they'll even throw in a "neutral" letter of reference, whatever that is ("Of all our employees in the past 50 years, she was without a doubt one of them"?).

City officials insist people who object to this arrangement -- which is costing taxpayers more than $93,000 -- just don't know how things work.

Well, we do know. And they don't work.

The city needs a better contract next time, one that protects the interests of taxpayers for once.

In the broader picture, employers ought to be able to be honest about why a person is fired. If the person is fired for good reason, the employer shouldn't be punished for it.

The city should never again agree in a contract to give anyone six months' severance if they're fired. Meanwhile, the definition of "fired for cause" ought to explicitly include excessive and unwarranted purchases -- and, in the case of a city attorney, the proffering of legal advice that is so patently and absurdly illegal and/or unconstitutional that a fifth-grader would know it. Example: an attempt to bar reporters -- but no one else -- from chatting with commissioners in the commission chambers or hallway, as Johnson attempted to do.

And finally, employers should be free to fire ineffective, incompetent and irresponsible employees without abject fear of being sued.

Don't our current laws and regulations protect, and even reward, incompetence?

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disssman
6
Points
disssman 01/07/10 - 10:52 am
0
0
Butler what did she steal?

Butler what did she steal? Last I heard she bought (legally) some expensive items for the office that are still there. And as to the employment papers, she didn't fill them out so how did she lie. The problem is she didn't have a statement of expected job performance criteria. As to the letter she will receive, if any of you have ever been a supervisor, you know better than to fire someone for inefficiency without prior written counseling. Now if you have a couple of events that were written up and the employee signed or refused in front of witnesses to sign, you can fire at will. But to be able to call an employee in after 9 months and say I don't like you and you are fired - that is law suit time. And believe me I am not on Chiquittas side.

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 10:52 am
0
0
Fiat Lux said: "Stupid people

Fiat Lux said: "Stupid people with tunnel vision blocking everything good for our community and anybody who challenges them get slandered." .......I don't know who is doing the slaughtering Many of us have presented facts here about the TEE that clearly show it will not make money. We have gone into detail and willingly debated the facts with anyone, anytime. The propronents, who also happen to be Deke supporters, came after us pretty hard. They don't play fair as evidenced by the Laney Walker bribe, the David Fry attempt to bribe Mason and Johnson. One poster who rarely posts went into matters ferociously, looked up all my previous posts and said the DA, Ashley Wright, would be coming after me for something I had said about her. I'm sure this poster was speaking out of line, but I'd personally welcome going to court because I presented facts here. No telling what would come out in court about the TEE. Riverman on the stand would give Sylvia Cooper lots of material.

montega12
0
Points
montega12 01/07/10 - 10:56 am
0
0
the reason is simple its tax

the reason is simple its tax dollars its not their money they are having to pay out so they dont care plus shes a minority and if they did do the right thing she would sue and win because she would say it was based on race it may sound harsh but its the simple truth

disssman
6
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disssman 01/07/10 - 10:58 am
0
0
BTW for all posters above.

BTW for all posters above. Go to the city law department site. Download the city code and see what the law department is responsible for and who they work for. Also go to the procurement department and see what is forbidden to purchace with credit cards. Also see what the commissioners are authorized in gas card expenditures. Also look at the legal make up of the DDA. You will find that the document that this city is supposed to be run by, is woefully lacking in the above areas. That is the document that says what the bounds of a department or authority are. This document jhasn't been updated since before 2007 when it was rubberstamped. Read it then tell me what Chiquitta actually did to get fired.

Brad Owens
4859
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Brad Owens 01/07/10 - 11:42 am
0
0
dissman, she gave bad, and

dissman, she gave bad, and illegal, legal advice. THTA is why she SHOULD be fired and not allowed to resgin. I say good riddance. I blame The Very Reverend Hatney and the idiot commissioners who pushe getting rid of the pros they had representing the city and hired her to create the much lauded but not needed 'Law Department'. Funny, the reason the commission fired Steve's firm was because they were 'too expensive' yet they gave the Law Department DOUBLE the funds and then some. That proves this was about race and not fiscal prudence.

spunkygirl
0
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spunkygirl 01/07/10 - 12:06 pm
0
0
I have followed the comments

I have followed the comments of readers since this news story broke. However, Mr. Russell is not to blame for this fiasco.Moses McCauley and the Commissioners should be held accountable for not doing their job well and througly. While not excusing Chiquitta's behavior, I believe she may have a mental illness; perhaps Bipolar disorder or an impulse disorder. These conditions often clouds one's judgement. Biopolar is a mood disorder that involves inflated self-esteem, grandiosity and involvement in pleasurable activites that have high potential for painful consequences, ie engaging in unrestained buying sprees. Of course an illness does not excuse the behavior but perhaps it does offer a different perspective given the information she'd done the same thing in her previous employ. I suggest the Commisioners' small salaries be taken to repay the citizens of RC because we are the real victims. Hatney,as a "Pastor" should take care of his flock. Some of the others ought not allow race, gender and social connections to influence decisions. Enough already! Any wonder why newcomers move to Columbia Co and N. Augusta or Aiken?

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 01/07/10 - 12:31 pm
0
0
Again, when their is not an

Again, when their is not an organizational structure with a clear path of responsibility it is difficult to manage & almost impossible to hold someone accountable. The City Administrator should be the one responsible for the management problems with the legal department, but the Consolidation Charter has the department heads reporting directly to the Commissioners. I have spent time in China and it was interesting to see how the management structure worked there. A committee of five provided oversight of operational issues. So, when their was a problem it would pass up to the committee of five and no single person was responsible. In Augusta we have a committee of ten being responsible, so no single person gets the blame. We need to repair our Consolidation Charter.

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 01/07/10 - 12:49 pm
0
0
Brad, in response to your and

Brad, in response to your and many other's concerns as to why expand our trade & exhibit center when there are many oither issues needing to be addressed I would like to add this. As a lifetime rssident of the CSRA and someone who has spent his entire working career on Broad Street I have a deep belief that Downtown Augusta has a brighter future than even its glory days of the past. I never left Broad St. even when my family wanted to relocate elsewhere. I believe the timing is right for Downtown to develop as a very special tourist & convention destination based on physical layout and historical assets. We have as good a mix of historical assets as does Savannah & Charleston and a better physical layout. Our problem is we have never marketed them very well. The investment in expanding our TEE Center will be paid for primarily by visitors in the form of various consumption taxes. It is my belief that the revenue produced from additional touirist dollars will pay for many other needs we have. At a meeting this week it was reported that bookings are already being made for mid 2012 when the expansion will be complete. I believe this to be a dreat investment in the future.

ron_rlw
1
Points
ron_rlw 01/07/10 - 01:02 pm
0
0
Julian ... While I agree with

Julian ... While I agree with your statements, I am not convenced that Augusta will follow through with the commitment necessary to reach its potential. I guess I still have a bad taste from the Civic Center days on how we handle issues like this. While we are telling our teachers to no come to work on certain day because we don't have the money to pay them ... I'm not sure this is the time to risk what could become costly side issues.

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 01/07/10 - 02:03 pm
0
0
Obliviously, I could be wrong

Obliviously, I could be wrong about the potential return on investment we are maiking in tourist income oppertunities, However, the Hyatt Hotel Group commitment of a new $25 million facility accross from the TEE Center gives me added confidence in the outcome of this inititive. When potential meeting planners see a new Hyatt Hotell accross from two Marriott hotels and an adjancant convention center on a beautiful riverfront they get excited and interested. Historical venues are one of the primary attractions for tourists. We are where George Washington visited in 1792, Oglethorpe navigated to earlier, the childhood home of Woodrow Wilson restored next door to the childhood home of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lamar a few blocks from the still standing home of George Walton, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Augusta, etc. We generate income & revenue from selling access to our treasured past. As the first Capital of Georgia we have much to offer, and the added revenue we should receive from taxes and business growth should significantly our ability to pay good teachers more and better our educational resources.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/07/10 - 02:15 pm
0
0
The Stooge Fred Russell will

The Stooge Fred Russell will hang on because he is a yes-man and does what Boss Hogg Don Grantham and The Hill Mafia tell him to do.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/07/10 - 02:29 pm
0
0
On the educational note, it

On the educational note, it was just announced that Augusta would receive a $400,000.00 Georgia Work Ready grant that will be administrated under the Innovation Crescent umbrella. The Innovation Crescent is the continuation of the bio corridor that connects Atlanta to Athens and originally was to connect to Augusta. It includes joint efforts of Georgia Tech, Emory, MCG and the various Technical Colleges plus other bio imitative. Augusta was not included until recent efforts from MCG that opened the door to include our community. The Georgia Work Ready program is to focus on continuing education efforts to improve the skills of our work force and to get the counties in our trade area Work Ready Certified. I have been asked to serve as the Project Leader for the Innovation Crescent effort as a volunteer and have accepted.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/07/10 - 02:38 pm
0
0
Fred Russell negotiated this

Fred Russell negotiated this severance package.. I'm sure he did so with orders from Boss Hogg Grantham.

ron_rlw
1
Points
ron_rlw 01/07/10 - 03:18 pm
0
0
Julian ... I understand the

Julian ... I understand the potential ... and I hope that Augusta will take full advantage of that potential. They haven't in the past, however the James Brown Arena is doing better now than the old civic center did. My question is, is this an acceptable risk while at the same time cutting teacher's salaries because of lack of funds. If we take full advantage of the potential then it will be ... so let's work for the future of Augusta.

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 03:35 pm
0
0
Mr. Osbon, you say bookings

Mr. Osbon, you say bookings have been made for 2012 when it opens. I'll call you on that. Exactly what has been booked? I guarantee you it is not an outside trade show coming here. At the most, it is a small local event that would have been in another local venue.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/07/10 - 03:39 pm
0
0
One of my favorite bumper

One of my favorite bumper stickers says: IF YOU THINK EDUCATION IS EXPENSE, TRY IGNORANCE". The teaching profession is perhaps the most under-valued occupation of our society -- from great teaching comes great leaders and a positive future. The Achilles heel of the free enterprise system is the value placed or mis-placed on talents or abilities that give short-term pleasure and long-term challenges. A skilled athlete can make millions as a youth but end up broke in body & finances when older. An educated mind brings rewards for a life-time. Somehow as a society we need to reconcile the differences.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/07/10 - 03:40 pm
0
0
I would love to know exactly

I would love to know exactly what organizations and big trade shows have booked this facility. Why not gives us names? I agree with river.. most likely we are talking about LOCAL events.. so its a zero sum gain. It's just shifting events from one local venue to another.. with no outside money being brought into the economy. That's pretty much what Dr Sanders report says too. Again, I'll believe it when I see it.

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 03:45 pm
0
0
Matter of fact, if they are

Matter of fact, if they are small local events that have booked it, that enhances our argument of who will be using the TEE. We are waiting, Mr. Osbon, for your answer.

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 03:50 pm
0
0
See that's exactly the kind

See that's exactly the kind of arguments the TEE proponents have used while attacking anyone who asked questions as being small minded. You say shows are booking now. We ask what kind of shows. Heck, Mr. Osbon is probably calling there now to book some event he just made up with a national sounding name. Heh.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/07/10 - 03:53 pm
0
0
Riverman -- There are

Riverman -- There are approximately $10 million in commitments waiting for groundbreaking and official opening dates. These are groups that have been trying to come here in the past but have been unable to. I have requestred a schedule of these from the Convention & Visitors bureau and will be glad to share this list with you. I should have it tomorrow and will post it here.

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 03:57 pm
0
0
I'll be busy in the morning

I'll be busy in the morning with work, but I'll look later in the day. Thanks.

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 04:01 pm
0
0
To the editors: Have y'all

To the editors: Have y'all heard about this $10 MILLION in commitments for the TEE? Dang, how much is the rent? This would make a fantastic story.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/07/10 - 04:03 pm
0
0
Things like TEE, Golf and

Things like TEE, Golf and Gardens, Fort Discovery, etc are indicative of what's wrong with the thinking of the so-called brilliant visionaries of downtown who think they have all of the answers. We keep spending money on expensive icing while not bothering to bake the cake. Basic needs are continually neglected downtown...and downtown business owners are rarely ever consulted on what can be done to improve downtown. Instead all of these decisions are made by an elite clique.. Their track record of success has been an expensive failure.

crackerjack
150
Points
crackerjack 01/07/10 - 04:12 pm
0
0
Well Chiquita, what town is

Well Chiquita, what town is next? You're making a good living just keeping your heels pointed up. lol

crackerjack
150
Points
crackerjack 01/07/10 - 04:13 pm
0
0
How 'bout it Hatney, was it

How 'bout it Hatney, was it worth it/

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 04:13 pm
0
0
I wonder what trade

I wonder what trade organization our upcoming TEE is listed with if we have already brought in those kind of bookings? I can't find it anywhere.

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 04:20 pm
0
0
Since most established

Since most established centers in the country run at a loss and that is from Tier One on down, our $10 million commitment is amazing since we are not even listed on the tradeshow circuit and don't have a professional management team to get the word out. Has Morris already gone to work looking for shows? We need a serious article on this unheard of occurence.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 01/07/10 - 04:53 pm
0
0
The only thing "we the

The only thing "we the citiznes" can't figure out is how things work in Augsuta because they sure don't work this way everywhere else. If someone needs to be fired for cause, FIRE THEM and send them on their way. If a future employer calls, simply tell them the individual is not eligible for re-hire. The only deal with her should have been resign in lieu of being arrested for missuse of government funds.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/07/10 - 05:00 pm
0
0
asitis... you do know this is

asitis... you do know this is Disgusta, we are not exactly talking about the brightest bulbs in the bunch

Riverman1
89986
Points
Riverman1 01/07/10 - 05:45 pm
0
0
Check out the going rates for

Check out the going rates for the Columbia Metro Convention Center. To make $10 MILLION it would take a lot of shows.

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