Tonight’s Personnel Appeals hearing for Clyde Clark is more sparsely attended than last week’s for Kerry Bigelow (Personnel Appeals Hearing Kerry Bigelow: Evidence and Process). Roughly 40 folks in attendance, 5 from the local press (Elizabeth [WCHL], Katelyn [Chapel Hill News], Greg [HeraldSun], Don and Nancy [Chapel Hill Watch]). About 2/3rd’s are clearly supporters of Mr. Clark.

Unlike last week, I’ll be posting more abbreviated comments about testimony, tenor and process as the hearing progresses.

Anita Badrock has once again been chosen as the Chair. She reminds the audience that the committee is “not to replace the judgement of management” as per the Town’s ordinance (here).

(a) Conduct grievance and appeal hearings and render advisory opinions to the manager.
(b) Develop and maintain adequate records of all its proceedings, findings, and recommendations.
(c) Inform the employee(s) and the manager in writing of its findings and recommendations in all cases referred to it.

Clyde Clark is here tonight to ask to be reinstated, to get the safety and racism problems in Public Works fixed.

Mr. Norris, head of Public Works, starts off by being questioned by the Town’s lawyer Ms. Sneed. He says that he became aware of “several” citizen complaints – Clark was harassing folks on his route. It started out as 1 or 2 complaints about handling to debris and evolved into 5 complaints in total.

The nature of the complaints changed – residents were afraid of retaliation, they were fearful of the workers – at this point Norris contacted head of HR and Town Manager Stancil as these latter 3 complaints had risen to the point of being “serious incidents”.

The “serious incidents” documented in these emails (where are the emails, will they be public records?) under the procedures of the Town required that the two workers be immediately suspended and a pre-disciplinary process be started.

Sneed asks Norris if he was aware of “any grievances” filed by Mr. Clark or others (once again the two workers are lumped together). He says, “No.” This is the second time he has affirmed that he had no knowledge of the EEOC complaint or the filing of the safety grievances.

Sneed continues – “there have been allegations” that the firing was motivated by retaliation – she is making the case that there can be no foundation for those allegations given that Norris was unaware of grievances.

New mystery witness testimony from “Miss/Mrs. Johnson”.

Clark’s counsel Al McSurely once again objects to receiving testimony from an anonymous source.

“Mrs. Johnson” says she doesn’t have much to add to her statement of last week. Sneed asks about the combined bad behavior of Clark/Bigelow. Johnson says she doesn’t have much to add but when reminded that there is a new committee member this evening decided to comment on one new piece of information…

Johnson says that a comment made by Al McSurely in the Sunday newspaper wasn’t accurate – she didn’t hide behind blinds but had direct interactions with the workers.

She has lived in Chapel Hill for awhile and is familiar with trash pickup procedures. Clark/Bigelow were not picking up yard waste for weeks. When she asked them to do a better job their performance worsened – after the truck left her street she would have to go out and clean up debris spread across the road. She continued to ask the two for better service but as time went on the two workers attitude became more harassing and belligerent. Finally, fed up with trying to deal with the problems directly, she called the Town.

Like last week, she reaffirms that she didn’t call the Town to get the men fired – she just wanted a new crew that would do their job effectively. She continues to be boggled by the press and community reaction as per racism – this was not a matter of race but of poor performance (CW: I don’t recall anyone suggesting the witnesses were racist rather that the Town had endemic racism in PW management).

Al McSurely asks Johnson if she recalls what Mr. Clark looks like – she stumbles around finding words but eventually says “I know what he looks like”. When McSurely asks if she remembers the “Biden incident” 7/22 she says she doesn’t know how McSurely knows where she lives or who she is – she doesn’t want to add anything more to her previous comments.

One Board member asks if there were any additional witnesses to these events, including the “Biden event”. She responds that she usually ran out when she saw the trash haulers – the interactions were quick – not witnessed.

When asked by Board member Delores Bailey if she knew when her trash collectors made the rounds – “Mrs. Johnson” hung up.

New phone witness – “Mrs. Jones”. Didn’t want to come forward because of all the racial allegations – she didn’t want to be labeled a racist. Responding also to McSurely’s comments in the Chapel Hill News Sunday article – she reiterates that this was a simple case of very poor performance by the collectors. She contacted the Town to complain about the escalating poor performance and requested a new crew – a crew like her old crew who performed their jobs well.

McSurely asks “Jones” how many times she contacted the Town about the poor performance, the mess being made. “Five or six?” when Jones can’t come up with a number. She stumbles about a few moments – “One time?” Jones – “More, maybe two.” McSurely, “Who did you talk to?”. Jones, “A young woman.” She doesn’t recall. She also said no PW management came down to talk to her.

McSurely asks Jones if she realized that Bigelow was on the former crew she liked so much – she didn’t know – wasn’t relevant to her.

Couple committee questions – Bailey, when did the collectors come? Jones – sometime in the morning, unsure…

Boardmember (BM) question reiterated by Anita (the phone testimony was plagued with sound problems) – Did Jones know anything about the Biden incident? Jones doesn’t want to talk about it – she refuses to comment on other complaints but would rather stick to her statement – the crew was doing a terrible job, when she asked for better service they adopted an aggressive, confrontational attitude – she contacted the Town and the current series of events started…

Notably, Jones did not confirm statements made by CAI and the Town that the two were frightening presences or that there was any particular incident which scared her..

Moving on to Larry Stroud, PW sanitation manager – 11 years on the job. Did he have any problems with Clark before – “It’s been a rocky road” – relates an incident several years ago where Clark refused to clean up some broken bikes and other “white goods” in Northside – like other times – Clark blew him off.

Stroud continues to paint a picture of an employee with a long history of inter-personal issues, with complaints akin to those on Greenwood. Stroud said he intervened numerous times – had counseled Clark – but that Clark was just one of those folks “who wouldn’t listen”.

Sneed has him walk through the latest personnel review where he gave Clark a good report. In working through the document it becomes clear that additional comments do demonstrate concerns – including Clark’s need to improve his job performance, to improve his attitude, to improve his interactions with customers.

Why didn’t Sneed take this to his management – the superintendent. He did but stopped because upper management wasn’t attending to the issues. Sneed – “Why?”
Stroud, he seemed intimidated. Sneed – “Intimidated? By who?” Superintendent was afraid that the two workers would go to “Fred”. Sneed – “Fred?” Stroud – “Fred Battle.” (Fred was the leader of the local NAACP).

The superintendent was concerned that Fred would stir up trouble and he just didn’t want to deal with the repercussions. Stroud continued to try to help the two – Clark moreso – but that his assistance didn’t help. Stroud tells about how Clark was on the verge of losing his job and his mother came to Public Works – she was crying – she begged the Town to keep her son on – they did and Clark straightened up – “for 3 weeks”. Back to old bad habits after that…

McSurely cross-examines. Turns out Stroud worked on a truck servicing Greenwood for years. Stroud had several side jobs in the neighborhood. He cut grass for a particular woman that, if I read McSurely right, was one of the two we have heard about. McSurely asks about the “Biden event” – did Stroud know about it? Not particularly.

Now Al (McSurely – Al is shorter) delves into why these couple reports made on Clark’s problems in 2009, 2010 didn’t end up in disciplinary proceedings. Why didn’t the superintendent take initiative?

Stroud says there was a lot of turmoil in the department, especially earlier this year. The person “who shall not be named” is Harv Howard. The Town claimed in the documents submitted to the NC Employment Security Commission (ESC) that “Harv dropped the ball”. Al asks Stroud if Harv dropped the ball – does he agree? Stroud can’t really say…he said that by the time the chain of events started which Kerry down the road to losing his job Harv was on the way out….

The Town and Anita asks that further discussion on the Harv Howard matter stop. Al asks the Town’s attorney Ralph Karpinos if the Board can review Harv’s personnel record to see why Harv was discharged. Ralph says yes. Al asks that the Board review Harv’s record – to see why he was let go – and to determine if there is any evidence within which bears upon the Clark and Bigelow case.

NOTE: Just after Mrs. Jones refused to answer Al’s questions – echoing Mrs. Johnson’s hanging up on the Board – Anita comments that while this is not a court proceeding that a witness’ willingness to submit to cross-examination DOES influence how the Board assess the evidence they do provide.

Al questions Stroud on handling of yard waste – is there a particular process? There are guidelines and expectations but it doesn’t appear that the Town holds folks to a hard and fast rule.

Earlier Stroud commented that he took a camera out to Northside to document Clark’s problem cleaning up “white goods” (bikes, etc.). Al – Why did you do that? Stroud – I knew it would be a heated situation – wanted evidence to support his conclusions.

Al – Did you see the pictures Bigelow took of the debris problems on Greenwood? Stroud – No.

Pretty clear that taking photos was a common procedure for the PW department (CW: good idea, I used to do that regularly as a commercial construction inspector).

CAI’s von Der Lippe (VDL), dressed more casually this evening and seemingly more relaxed, on the stand for the Town. 14 years of experience – several investigations – “bunches” – over 100 – investigations have come out for and against employees.

Sneed probes VDL’s knowledge of CAI’s prior contract with Town – reaffirms he knew nothing prior to hearings. Sneed shows his bill – $5860 – acknowledges (as Al mentioned last week) that he is being paid $150/hr. to attend this evening.

Sneed – were you told these two were trouble-makers to start with, were you told to build a case to get them out? VDL – No.

VDL describes process he uses as a “true/false matrix” – that he investigates the allegations, looks at supporting evidence, corroborating testimony – to determine if allegations stand or not… Pause as he reviews a stack of statements – he was criticized by the Board last week for submitting a report with glaring problems – problems that change the meaning – which he explained away as typos (embarrassing typos to say the least).

VDL affirms the accuracy of the reports.

Sneed prompts VDL to explain why the two are lumped together… VDL – many of the incidents they participated together – investigation reveals that Clark was the more belligerent, aggressive, rude and confrontational of the pair – VDL – a theme throughout the investigation is that Clark was rude, indignant – Stroud said Clark was out of control…

VDL: Stroud was pretty emotional talking about Clark – especially how Stroud went to the mat for Clark when Clark was on the verge of being fired… Stroud “like working with nails” “it was their way or no way” – disappointed on inappropriate comments Clark made about termination of PW worker (Harv Howard?) which had made his co-workers upset…

Sneed – other than a few typos, is there anything in this report which substantively changes the sense of the report…

Al cross-examines – Could you explain what constitutes a typo? Considering that a typo discussed last week changed the sense of the report – Stroud’s comment on the radio/water request event…explain it further… VDL: Other than that no…

Al asks VDL how much he knows about CAI’s anti-union work…VDL: “I’m not the right person to ask about that…” “I don’t think I’m the right person to ask about that…”

Al’s team hands out a binder full of CAI’s anti-union work to the Board and von Der Lippe to review (CW: I posted on it here [Chapel Hill Council: Union Busters?]). It’s established that VDL’s employer is a wholly owned company of CAI and that, in turn, Bruce Clarke – CEO of CAI – no relation to Mr. Clark – was a leading figure nationally in fighting unionization.

VDL: “This isn’t what I do” “This isn’t something I know about…” He might get email notifications, etc. from CAI on these issues but he gets a ton of junk that he ignores as not being pertinent to his job…

Al – $50 Background check – VDL: What he does for any investigation of hostile employees – he runs a check to make sure his personal safety is assured…

Sneed – recrosses VDL – Did Bruce Clarke assist in investigation, write report, review report, comment on it, etc. ? VDL: No.

VDL is the licensed investigator for CAI’s investigation arm. CAI is a 50 year-old non-profit employee association and the investigation arm is a company charged with conducting that work…

Sneed asking VDL about interview with Clark – Did Clark cooperate, participate? No – Clark didn’t want to participate – he wanted other folks to attend – wasn’t interested in going forward VDL: Couldn’t get much information….

Al asks if Clark was given notice under due process of the charges – not really – VDL had been told Clark was “belligerent, aggressive, intimidating”, “rude to co-workers” but instead of asking about those alleged behaviors VDL asked specific questions on specific incidents…

Sneed recalls Mr. Norris, head of Public Works.

Norris – kind of neat that we visit every home in Chapel Hill once a week

Norris explains process of dealing with yard waste – trucks equipped with rakes and brooms so the crew can leave the area tidy – they don’t make a big deal if waste exceeds 3 cubic yards…

Sneed asks about pre-disciplinary hearing process. Sneed – Had Norris decided by Oct. 12th, the day of the hearing, what disciplinary action would be taken? Norris: No. Norris: Every time he tried to engage with Clark and McSurely to determine what the facts were, what substance there was, they refused.

Norris and Town attorney did offer to have the two come back once they were better informed but Clark refused (CW: this is a strong point of contention – Clark/Bigelow maintain they left these hearings expecting a detailed list of allegations and specific evidence supporting those allegations so that they could respond accordingly).

Sneed – “we believe in progressive” employment practices – why not suspension? why not move them? why immediate termination? Norris – As soon as an incident rises to “personal detrimental conduct” then he must move quickly to protect citizens… Norris manages 8 divisions, every one deals with the public, he can’t simply move an employee who has engaged in “detrimental personal conduct” (the mantra we hear over and over) into a position that is forward-facing with the public…

Al explores the “Biden event”. Spoke with two people directly – one within neighborhood and one at an outside location…

Al – What about third complaint? Norris – Complaint about poor performance, missed pickup – was concerned because customer said that the two workers behaved in a rude way

Town – no other witnesses.

Clark begins….

Born and raised in Chapel Hill. Lived in public housing over on Gomains. Came up through school district before and after desegregation. Mother worked at Granville. Father worked for UNC in mental wing. Got to know Mr. Fred Battle.

As he grew up he noticed Chapel Hill was changing for black men. Mr. Battle suggested he look for a job with the Town after he held a series of meaningless jobs prior – at Taco Bell, Marriott, etc. At 30 years old he got his first sold job with Public Works.

Clark says a lot of the write ups, including ones from Harv Howard, don’t tell the whole story – for instance, that there was ice on the ground early Spring and couldn’t clean up

Al – Why a union? Clark – “White men run this Town” “Terrell should be sitting there….” pointing over to Mr. Norris. He wanted to start a union to “lift men up” who were doing a dangerous, dirty job…

Al begins to show a series of photos documenting dangerous work conditions – like scrambling across multiple lanes of traffic on MLK, Jr.

Al asks about a pamphlet Clark distributed – Clark – did it because they wanted the public to know how the Town was treating them – that they were fired without being able to see evidence – that due process wasn’t followed in any way…

Clark “Richard Terrell and Dennis Schoch [HR] should be sitting over there…” He only dealt with these two managers – not Norris – Norris was not the point man on this as has been presented – until this hearing didn’t even know Sneed worked for Town…

Al highlights the vagueness of the allegations in the pre-disciplinary letter – Al – Did you have a chance to review the evidence, to talk to the people down on Greenwood – Clark: No.

Like Bigelow, Clark said that he expected when he left the meeting that there would be a follow-up meeting. McSurely and him were waiting on clarification and information they requested from Town when Clark received termination letter.

Clark – “Public works is running wild down there…” “White worker threatened to kill someone” – He’s back on his job, is he going to get fired?

Clark – Addressing interactions with woman on Greenwood – growing up in Chapel Hill he learned how to behave around older white women – that he wouldn’t initiate a conversation – that he would only respond to a query – he certainly wouldn’t behave as described…

Clark – On waving hands and aggressive behavior – “If I did that I wouldn’t be here I’d have been arrested…”

Clark says he didn’t recognize voices on phone – not sure who they were…

Al walks through a small list of specific allegations – did Clark call a co-worker saying he was talking too much about his [Clark's] business – did Clark act belligerent on Greenwood – no, no.

Clark admits was counseled about his problems with attendance. Said he responded to problem brought up 4 years ago, been better since. Points out the PW/Solid Works have lots of people with under time problems…

Sneed – crosses – Did Mr. Marsh lie when he said Clark called and complained about Marsh being up in his business – yes… Are white men running PW putting citizens up to complaining? – no… Was it a lie when VDL said you refused to be interviewed? Clark – been so long ago, I don’t remember it it was so long time ago…

During this back and forth Clark keeps saying “this isn’t a court”, “I don’t know these witnesses” “that is what you say” (to Sneed) – asks where all the concern and energy was from HR/PW when dealing with health care issues, other personnel issues…

Clark, like Bigelow, characterizes the Town’s case as: lies, lies, lies.

I find this protestation to be the weakest part of both defenses.

Jim Ward showed up sometime in the last hour. It will be interesting to see if Council thinks they have appropriate oversight over the Town Manager’s management activities after these cases are discharged. From public reports, it doesn’t appear they discussed it during the recent Council retreat.

Board (BM) steps up to asks witnesses further questions.

Larry Stroud, the second tier manager of Clark/Bigelow up first.

BM: How are teams put together? Stroud – Teams are set. When someone leaves the next person in line steps up. Appears Bigelow/Clark were paired due to some incident which moved their partners on…

BM: Heard last week issues about taking pictures…has any other crew had complaints about taking pictures?

BM: Told last week that someone called you on the radio, do you remember that? BM: Did you recognize the voice? Stroud – It was Kerry. Stroud – Do you want more detail? Explains how trucks are equipped with water.

Other BM: Did you see Kerry take photos? Stroud hadn’t but had seen photos – included trucks, private property…

Other BM: Asks about written documentation – Stroud said that written record maintained by his superintendent – should be in his files (supposedly Harv’s?)

Delores Bailey – asks about truck #210 incident – citizen complaining that guys weren’t doing job appropriately – superintendent asked Stroud to go investigate – it was Northside incident – Stroud took photos expecting a heated incident and need of evidence – took pics to superintendent – superintendent talked to Clark – didn’t work out and Clark moved from truck #210 to #209.

DB goes into the Northside incident more deeply – turns out small appliances are tossed into truck but there is a 3 small appliance limit which isn’t generally observed – larger appliances are picked up by another crew…

DB how did Kerry get on #209? Kerry wasn’t moved there as a punishment? Stroud – No. DB – Any problems with Kerry and his partner? Stroud – maybe one small one…

DB Given all the problems you describe – 2004 to now – you think he wasn’t let go because of his relationship to Mr. Battle? “I’m not saying that…” (CW: but he is saying that…).

DB asks if Stroud feels intimidated by Clark – Stroud – Yes – DB How long have you been a supervisor – Stroud – 11 years …

DB asks if Stroud saw any improvement in Clark over the years – Stroud says he did after counseling Clark but after a couple weeks Clark would be back to bad behaviors…

DB asks if Stroud thought Clark would get up in a residents face – Stroud says absolutely – no doubt…

Anita Badrock – asks Stroud about staff meeting – Clark stood up and said former superintendent wasn’t going to be the last to go – Clark said Stroud would be gone by December – AB – testimony says “Clark stood up and said former superintendent would be next to go” – what was that meeting about? Stroud says Harv’s meetings were generally about state of Town…

At this point it’s suggested Norris a better person to ask about meeting as it involves discussion about another personnel matter (Harv’s dismissal?).

AB asks how many complaints Stroud gets from folks about sanitation workers – Stroud – every day – lots of them – AB asks if people ever call with compliments – Stroud – yes – AB, this particular truck? Stroud – ummmmm…

AB asks Stroud about stress of dealing with this mess – he testified last week that he thought about early retirement because of the stress – Stroud – yes, I thought about it — he talked to people outside of Town to help deal with pressure – didn’t seek help from his management

Stroud discusses how hurt he felt about Clark’s behavior – he kept reaching out trying to help him – he gave him rides – he counseled him – thought they were on friendly terms but Clark would turn on him…

DB asks, again, how long he had been a manager Stroud – 11 years – DB – formal training? Stroud – yes DB – why didn’t you write him up? Stroud – did but stopped doing it… DB – Stopped writing up incidents, why? Stroud – told by superintendent to stop writing them up a year ago – DB – Why was that? Stroud – not sure…

DB – Of all the incidents involving Clark over the years, why this event? Stroud – When it involves citizens like this it was time to do something finally….

Board calls CAI’s von Der Lippe (VDL).

BM asks how many employees at CAI. VDL: 45. BM: In investigations department? VDL: 3

DB: When you started this investigation you were being asked to establish negative nature of conditions? VDL: No, his process is to evaluate particular complaints and establish veracity – he looks for facts in support of complaint – true or false allegation – not trying to build a case that his already been established….

DB: What about “flailing of arms”? VDL: More than one person verified that…

BM: In the case where there are only two witnesses and they both offered distinctly different testimony, how would you handle this in your report? VDL: I would report it was unsubstantiated, unverified.

VDL: When you have an incident where people are arguing so loud that someone on another block drives over to see what was happening, that substantiates a citizen’s complaint.

DB: How is that possible? Aren’t the trucks loud? DB says this part of the report was hard to understand – how could someone hear an argument a block away given how loud a garbage truck is – VDL: Explains that other employee who overheard argument was in a pickup truck doing special collections in the area – VDL found it a reasonable scenario…

DB asks about Rodney Courteland diary. VDL relates that Rodney is a co-worker who was keeping a diary of Clark/Bigelow’s time (!!!) and had turned it over to the Town. Rodney kept the diary partially because he was intimidated by Bigelow taking pictures of him doing his job and felt he needed to document their behavior…

Norris up.

BM asks Norris how many grievances he was aware of being filed over last decade – Norris aware of maybe 15 – possibly some by the same workers – BM/Norris establish that Clark/Bigelow were the only two Norris was aware of who were fired (CW: trying to establish the likelihood of the retaliation scenario I presume).

BM asks why it took 50 days to follow up on the “Biden event” complaint. Norris points out Terrell was new to job, that former superintendent of waste management was no longer there…

BM if this was a “serious incident”, as stated, wouldn’t there be a sense of urgency? Norris – initially it was an allegation, took awhile to establish facts, verify incident particulars – at that point “Biden event” moved to level of “serious incident” and the pace quickened…

BM: If you had this information, what is the intent behind scheduling a pre-disciplinary meeting? Norris: The only reason for the meeting was to gather information – to get the two workers side of the story…the meeting was just like this hearing – an attempt to get at the facts – Norris said the two decided not to engage and that he had to move forward without any additional employee input…

Norris decided that the “serious incident” amounted to “detrimental personal conduct” based on corroborated evidence presented in CAI report. He considered other options but couldn’t find a position for workers that wouldn’t expose the Town to liability – given that the only option was termination…

BM: Did you know Mr. Stroud was told not to write up these incidents? Norris – no I discovered it only through this process – turns out incident reports were, at least as Stroud and the Town claims, being stopped at Harv Howard’s level…

DB: If these reports had been submitted do you think they would have a chance to change their behavior? Norris – very speculative – possibly…

DB to Norris, do you think two days was enough time to respond to these charges? Norris offered to go through this information then and there – after that schedule an additional meeting – Clark and Bigelow refused to review information and so he was forced to move forward…

DB asks how linked these two are – Norris agrees that incident reports say “they” but that he considered them as two different cases…

DB: Are we terminating them as a couple? Norris: Treated individually, terminated individually for a joint behavior (the Biden event on 7/22).

Delores Bailey continues to probe Norris on how much of a role the two workers leaving the pre-disciplinary hearing without reviewing the information the Town had accumulated played in their dismissal – asks if the two had a chance to re-engage – not quite clear if the opportunity existed though Norris did give himself 48 hours to think about next steps…

At this point it is clear that leaving the pre-disciplinary hearing pretty much sealed the fate of the two workers. As I said last week, the two’s jobs could very well hang more on whether the Board thinks adequate “due process” was afforded rather than the substance of the allegations.

Now Anita Badrock, Chair of the Board, starts asking about the pre-disciplinary process.

AB – How is an employee supposed to bring information to this meeting? (CW: Both parties agree that the pre-disciplinary letter sent to the workers was vague on specifics). AB – The investigator had two weeks to gather this information….how is an employee supposed to respond “on the spot” to the allegations – why isn’t there a process for giving an employee an opportunity to further research the allegations and respond accordingly…

Norris continues to say that the pre-disciplinary meeting is for “providing the information”, that providing written materials ahead of time was not part of the process and “if only” the two workers had engaged he could’ve of POSSIBLY scheduled a followup.

AB explores the difficulty workers must have in responding to allegations and evidence presented “on the spot”.

AB asks why Norris didn’t use the CAI report to corroborate the information he independently verified. Wow!!! Norris couldn’t see the report due to attorney-client privilege?

AB: Attorney-client privilege? Who was the attorney? Norris: The Town attorney.

Norris says Town Attorney verbally confirmed aspects of the case Norris had developed with the help of CAI’s VDL and internal research.

Now DB takes up the questioning. Norris agrees that two workers and counsel had asked to get information and comeback. He continues to say that he offered to go through information and then let them comeback.

DB: Why wasn’t it fair to give the workers the information and let them come back? Norris – that wasn’t the process…

DB turns back to turmoil caused by Harv Howard’s leaving. Norris had told 140+ workers that he wanted to move forward as normal – DB: Couldn’t feelings been running high? Norris: It was a large organization and it was important to control rumors..

Earlier Norris mentioned how disruptive it was to have a worker claiming that “the superintendent wasn’t the last to leave”…he outlined how not diffusing such talk early could lead to further intimidation – that he couldn’t let his department think that some workers had the power to force people out…

AB asks why workers weren’t disciplined under established policy on discourteous behavior towards residents. Norris – this was beyond discourteous – belligerent inappropriate interactions.

DB brings up Clark’s feelings of intimidation. Clark alleges that because he filed a safety grievance Harv Howard and the rest of the crew came down on him. Norris felt that the issue had been resolved satisfactorily.

Now Board turns to Clark.

BM question to McSurely about expectations of what would happen after pre-disciplinary hearing. Al – We expected what the law requires – a specific list of allegations – the letter the workers received was very general. We had no idea what the charges are – no good lawyer would go in and try to defend their client with no specific charges…

Sneed, Town lawyer – in listening to discussion about pre-disciplinary hearing struck by how the Town followed the letter of the policy – if Al didn’t agree with policy, thought it wasn’t following State law – that’s a different problem…

BM interjects – to Al – you should have set a date in that meeting, you shouldn’t have left the meeting without a date…

BM (Derek) – Explores Sneed’s timeline – points out that documents came in about 3-4 days prior to termination – asks Al if further action taken – Al says they started a review but within a short time the two were terminated…

Sneed explains that there was no meeting of minds, no agreement to continue the process.

DB back to Clark asks about reported loud argument. Clark can’t respond to allegation “because it is made up work” “sensationalized” . Points out the Town employee on the pickup who corroborated the story – who heard the argument from down the block – wears hearing aids in both ears – no way he could’ve of heard an argument if one had ever happened – but no such thing happened…

Clark responding to Northside incident – lived in the neighborhood – how come Town can’t find one person from Northside to buttress complaint?

Clark -Stroud is a lousy manager – nothing personal – the department for years was run by Harv Howard – Stroud was a figurehead…

Clark on Davis Circle not being picked up for a month – they were told not to pick it up unless the bins were pulled to the curb – “do you think a man with 26 years would allow us to miss…for over a month?” Instructed by Terrell, et. al. to skip that part of route.

Closing arguments.

Sneed – it is understandable why Al McSurely said this was a complicated case given all the unsubstantiated innuendo, conspiracy theories, rumors, etc. but when you pull away all that it becomes a clear case…Clark was close to being fired before, Town counseled him and he held on to his job…how did he repay the Town, management, his coworkers? He was insubordinate, belligerent,…

“Intimidating, threatening conduct..” “Detrimental conduct”

Even though this is Clark’s case, she continues on about Bigelow and Clark…

Town followed their procedure…offered an opportunity for workers to respond during pre-disciplinary process…they rejected that reasonable and required offer…Mr. Norris was left with only one course of action…he took it…

Al McSurely, counsel for Clark, starts…

Outlines Clark family history – parents formed unions on Campus…

Goes into initial retaliation over series of 14 OSHA complaints – including backing up in blind alleys – said Harv Howard called a 7am meeting early March and told crew that Clark/Bigelow was “messing things up” and that they would end up “working 10 hour days” (CW: recall the Town allocates 40 hours for the job but lets the crew get the job done at their own pace – sometimes in little as 4 hours)…Stroud was at that meeting…

First heard of a series complaints…based on unsworn testimony of CAI’s VDL and Town documents that series of complaints has boiled down to 2 complaints by 2 woman living across from each other…the same 2 woman we heard from this evening Al thinks…if the behavior was as bad as described then it constituted criminal conduct – assault – but it wasn’t handled as such…tonight both women agreed they didn’t want the men fired, they didn’t mention intimidating physical behavior, Al would like to talk them about it…

…this wasn’t about the citizen complaints, it was only after the filing of Bigelow’s EEOC complaint that events started moving forward…this was about their union activities…the union was very vital during this time…no doubt that bothered people, made people anxious…worried Stroud…some evidence of that is the Town banned both men from Town property, prohibited them from conducting union efforts…

…Al hasn’t filed a grievance where the other side is happy about it…surely management was worried what would happen if a union was formed … Town would have to start treating their workers as humans…

…this is a matter of due process…

Al ends and so does the meeting.

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