Young ousted from job

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By Jennifer Caldwell

After months of speculation and debate LaFollette City Council members determined the fate of City Administrator David G. Young in around five minutes time.

The discussion about Young’s position was last item on the agenda of the meeting that concluded in under half an hour.

Councilman Joe Bolinger wasted no time stating his intention for placing the item on the agenda when he called for Young’s termination.

Attempting to gain some clarity on the motion Councilman Bob Fannon asked Bolinger to elaborate on his reason for the action.

“Will you go into cause Mr. Bolinger?” Fannon said questioning his colleague.

Bolinger told Fannon the proof of cause had come in the form of testimony from three female employees during the August council meeting.

Despite the council voting to continue the investigation into the sexual harassment Linda White, city recorder, alleged was perpetrated by Young, there was no mention of the ongoing inquest or what had been discovered at Tuesday night’s meeting

“There must be a finding before we do anything else,” Fannon said warning fellow council members against making a hasty decision.

Young and his attorney David Dunaway as well as city attorney Reid Troutman were notably absent from the moderate sized crowd gathered at city hall.

But in a phone interview Wednesday morning Dunaway called the council’s decision a “complete denial of due process.”

According to Dunaway, the vote to remove Young from his position was in violation of the city’s own personnel policy because “there was no finding of fault” during the August meeting.

“All they (the council) have done is bought themselves a whole lot of litigation at the expense of LaFollette’s taxpayers,” Dunaway said.  “The whole town looks like a circus.”

Fannon continued to caution his peers arguing that making a decision in their attorney’s absence would be foolish.

“We did not follow any of the three steps listed in the city charter.  We are creating enough problems with our own mouths without an attorney here,” Fannon said.

Voicing his frustration with the situation Fannon agreed with audience member Katie Goins’ assessment that the council was nothing more than a “kangaroo court” in the matter.

Goins, who was bounced from the August meeting by LaFollette Mayor Mike Stanfield for an alleged outburst, asserted her disgust with the council’s handling of the grievance and subsequent suspension of Young earlier in the meeting.

“There are things that has gone on here that should have gone on in a court of law,” Goins told the group.

While Stanfield conceded Fannon was entitled to his opinion, he did not agree with it.

With comments falling on deaf ears, Fannon continued to argue against Young’s being ousted.

“You have two attorneys saying it is not sexual harassment and one of them is our own attorney,” Fannon said incredulously.

Bolinger interjected that the testimony of witnesses in the previous month’s meeting was all he needed to make the decision to remove Young from his post.

“I heard what the people (witnesses) had to say and that’s what I’m basing it on,” Bolinger said of the logic behind his motion.

Although Bolinger voiced confidence in his proposed action against Young, his comments at last month’s meeting told a different story.  During the August meeting Bolinger suggested that the Equal Employment Opportunity Council continue the investigation before the group rendered a decision.

“I think that there are some facts that have been witnessed, but I also think we need to gather more facts,” Bolinger said last month.

When the votes were cast Bolinger and Hatmaker voted in favor of firing Young while Fannon and Councilman Wayne Kitts voted no.  Stanfield broke the tie with a yes vote for Bolinger’s motion.

“This council has gone against our own attorney’s advice and we are going to pay for it,” Fannon said.

In response to Fannon’s comment, Stanfield issued a warning of his own.

“From what I hear you are in it up to your eyeballs so you better not rock the boat too much,” the mayor told Fannon.

In August Young filed a petition in chancery court asking Chancellor Billy Joe White to return him to his position of city administrator.  In the petition, Young says Stanfield and the four-man council didn’t follow the guidelines of LaFollette’s personnel policy when they suspended him.

In other business the council voted to hire five full time employees including fire fighter Shawn McGlone, police officers Daniel Smith and Justin Lowe, as well public works laborers Tim Rupp and Jimmy Marlow.

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