Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Commissioners' statement on Jones, payouts

Mecklenburg County Commissioners spent more than three hours behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the handling of a $60,000 settlement to former county mental health director Grayce Crockett.

Commissioners had questioned whether County Manager Harry Jones exceeded his authority in reaching the deal and said they were troubled that they did not learn of the settlement right away. Some also criticized staff for initially describing the money as just payout for Crockett's vacation and accrued sick time.

After emerging from closed session, Jones apologized for not communicating the deal well enough with the board. He also said he made a "lapse in judgement" in sending a weekend email with information on money Commissioner Jim Pendergraph received when he retired as the sheriff.

Commissioners issued the following statement late Tuesday:

"The Board has reviewed the actions of County Manager Harry Jones regarding the terms and conditions of former Area Mental Health Grayce Crockett’s resignation, including the payment of a negotiated amount to Ms. Crockett totaling $99,329.18. This involved a thorough review of County policy and the authority provided by the Board of County Commissioners to the County Manager. The Board also received and reviewed information on other negotiated resignations of County employees in recent years.

Based on this review, the Board believes the following:

1. The County Manager made a reasoned and sound decision in the best interests of Mecklenburg County taxpayers and had the authority to do so without prior Board approval.

2. The County Manager should have informed the Board in advance or immediately thereafter about the terms and conditions of Ms. Crockett’s negotiated resignation, including the amount paid to her in excess of what she was entitled to receive in accrued vacation and sick benefits, and the reasons he decided the payment was in the best interests of the County and taxpayers.

3. The County is limited by privacy laws regarding the amount and type of information that can be released to the public.

4. Although the information publicly released involving Grayce Crockett’s negotiated resignation was technically correct and was released in a good faith attempt to comply with North Carolina law, it provided a misleading impression to the Board and the public.

5. The County Manager erred by not timely correcting this misimpression.

6. The County Manager made a mistake by not informing the Board in advance or immediately afterwards about the terms and conditions of Grayce Crockett’s resignation. The County Manager understands and acknowledges this mistake.

7. The County Manager seriously erred when he released information from Commissioner Pendergraph’s personnel file that included some information protected by North Carolina privacy laws, although he did so without malice.

8. The County Manager understands and acknowledges he made a mistake when he released the protected information from Commissioner Pendergraph’s personnel file. The County Manager has apologized to Commissioner Pendergraph and Commissioner Pendergraph has accepted his apology.

9. The additional amounts of accrued vacation paid to Commissioner Pendergraph at the time of his retirement were for benefits he earned during his service as Mecklenburg County Sheriff.

10. The County Manager must improve communication with the Board on personnel and matters of public interest.

11. The Board will work with the County Manager to establish clear expectations for how similar matters will be handled in the future.

The Board will put this statement in the County Manager’s personnel file and intends to take all of the above into consideration when conducting the County Manager’s annual performance evaluation later this calendar year."


Anonymous said...

12. The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners have no backbone and do not care about the citizens that they are supposed to represent.

Hey boardmemebers; Grow a pair! (JR may already have them)

Anonymous said...

County Commissioners, Have you no shame?? What in the world are you doing misleading the public with your point by point analysis in defense of Harry Jones . The point should be that he has made some serious mistakes and you should acknowledge that and ask him to leave his post and move on. Our county does not need a person in charge as manager who has made so many missteps and errors in judgement at a cost to the taxpayers and a blemish on the office. Neither do we need county commissioners who do have the judgement and backbone to replace him. The next election will hopefully turn out some of these commissioners who are not representing the people who elected them. We want accountability and honesty and openess in our goverment whether it be local , state or federal. We are simply not getting that leadership from Chairman Roberts .

Anonymous said...

We want accountability and honesty and openess in our goverment whether it be local , state or federal.

Really. What should we do with Bush Karl Rove and Rumsfield who lied about WMD's in Iraq? The cost to you as a taxpayer of 3 trillion dollars and 4,000 dead Americans. What do you suggest we do on a Federal level to a President who as you said "so many missteps and errors in judgement at a cost to the taxpayers and a blemish on the office" You are nothing but hypocrites who were silent while Bush and a Republican congress spent money like drunken sailors. Now you wantto scream about blemishes to the office and having no shame? You need to keep quiet as you did when Bush did the same thing on a grand scale

Anonymous said...

Wow! It's unfortunate that some people appear unable to get past a political affiliation.Perhaps that mindset is a primary reason that Americans cannot come together. To the contrary, the wastefulness of lost lives and squandered resources (financial and other)during the Bush administration and continuing today under the current administration should weigh heavily on all of us. Hopefully, all of us are Americans first, not Democrats, Republicans or Independents reacting to criticism of those who champion our beliefs. Noone ever said that any political party or elected official or government employee has a right to abuse the system or to be dishonest in any way. My previous comments were not intended to address any situation other than the one at hand which is Harry Jones and his disregard for authority ..and the disregard that the authorities under the leadership of Jennifer Roberts have for the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Conservative darling Bill James can blather on about the most ridiculous nonsense that has nothing to do with Mecklenburg Government yet he is strangely silent when it comes to this boy Harry Jones. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

As usual the taxpayers pay for the mistakes of a corrupt and totally incompetent leader, all because this board is scared to fire a black man!

I want to know what Jone has on Roberts.....seriously!

Anonymous said...

Our county commissioners want to define the problem as a communication breakdown. No. From my viewpoint, its that Crockett is allowed to double-dip the system. She received pay for her sick/vac days during her employment and then got paid again for those days at retirement.

County commissioners: The more you talk, the more you show your indifference and incompetence.

osei said...

This "scandal" may just lead to further revelations about who else may have been involved. Normally when there's a payout involved in a resignation, it can easily be interpreted as hush money.