Council hears from disgruntled former worker
by Briana Webster
Feb 15, 2014 | 2763 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARBON HILL — Trying out their latest protocol for allowing the public to speak at council meetings without future notice almost backfired during Carbon Hill’s city council meeting Thursday night.

During the last meeting held in January, council member James Pendley asked the council about changing its rule where citizens would have to contact city hall in advance to be placed on the agenda by the Friday before the council met on the following Thursday. However, he asked that residents be given a time limit on voicing their concerns, keep their message clean and respect members of the council or face the consequences of being escorted out by police if they could not follow those rules.

“What we don’t want is to have arguments up here, but if you got something you want to tell us about, something we might can help you with or input on what we’re discussing ... you’re welcome to speak,” Pendley said. “Ninety seconds, I believe, is what we decided on.”

Misty Harrison, who worked for six years as a former dispatcher for Carbon Hill, spoke up from the front row saying, “As all of you know, I was fired here. Kieffer Guthrie was fired for the same reason and he has a job. Can y’all explain to me why that is?” 

To which Pendley said, as he understood, Guthrie resigned. Harrison went on to say there is now a position available in dispatch and that she would like to have her old job back.

“Why wouldn’t you rather hire me back because I’m good at what I do. I love what I do. That’s what is so hurtful the most about all of this,” Harrison said.

“We can’t discuss that kind of stuff. It’s not here for this meeting. We’re here to conduct city business and tell you what we’re going to do,” Pendley said. “We’re not here to hire anybody in the dispatch office. ... This is the reason we quit having people talk in the first place. This is not the subject we’re here for.” 

After a heated discussion between the two, Harrison stormed out. Toward the end of the meeting, Harrison returned and apologized for her frustration with Pendley. He suggested that she fill out an application for the position.

Harrison said after the meeting that she was fired based on discrimination against her. She also added that there is currently an ongoing investigation with the city involving a previous case she had filed. Harrison continued to say she was told that she was fired without a due process hearing.

“I want a settlement and my full-time job back where I left off at $10 an hour,” Harrison said.

In other business, the council:

•approved the minutes of the last council meeting.

•heard from the fire department’s chief Buddy Smith who said everything is “running smoothly” at the department. The dispatch department, however, has a voice recorder that needs to be replaced.

•announced the bid for paving 1st Street SW to go to Cottingham Contractors for approximately $36,000, which was monies set aside from the coal company when the trucks were using the roads in one community.

•announced a workshop for Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. to discuss the new city handbook, financials and possibly raising city employees salary.

•announced for city council meetings to be changed temporarily from Thursday nights to the second and fourth Tuesday night of each month due to the absence of a council member who is dealing with personal family issues at the moment. The next regular scheduled council meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m.