Sunday, July 22, 2007

Knox County Lay-Off's

UPDATE Sunday 7/22/2007 7:33 pm The E.W. Scripps weekly newspaper evidently reads Brian's Blog. As we broke this story yesterday. We were able to speak with Mike Arms of the Mayor's office. We were unable to reach Cathy Quist or a representative of her office.

However, the E.W. Scripps weekly newspaper is reporting that they reached her.

Here is what the paper that prides itself on printing lies has to say. "Hubert Smith is no longer an employee of Knox County. He had clerked in the Juvenile Court under Cathy Quist until her budget was cut by one position. Word on the street is that Smith also kept busy documenting the work habits of his supervisor, Sharon Cawood." They have an additional item that is related. "Cathy Quist confirmed that Smith’s position had been cut. She also said Cawood will be transferred to the General Sessions Court downtown."

Of course, we are happy to be of assistance to all of the Brian's Blog readership. Even at times when we can assist the E. W. Scripps weekly newspaper.

I always cite them when I am talking about their stories. They could have at least credited me with breaking this story. Let's see I broke the story that led to Jack McElroy stepping down from the Urban League Board, he credited me with it. I broke this story and Cawood is moved. Hmm. Some people like McElroy are real journalist and real people and well the others just ain't.

UPDATE: Saturday 7/21/2007 1:18 pm - I spoke with Mike Arms the Chief of Staff of the Knox County Mayor's Office today. Mr. Arms told me that the Mayor's office did not and has not requested that any officeholder lay off any employee.

The County Mayor's office did request and implement a hiring freeze for all county offices. The only way that a fee officeholder can have a position approved is to make the request to the Knox County Commission and the Commission must approve the position. An example of this occurring is when Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin during the budget process requested and was approved an additional position.

Cathy Quist office did not request an additional position during the budget process.

The County Mayor's office also seized all vacancies. Hubert Smith's position was not vacant until he was laid off at 4:30 pm, yesterday Friday 7/20/07.

Mike Arms said "No where did we ask anyone to lay employees off."

I attended at least one of the two budget hearings this year. In the budget hearings each officeholder or their representative appeared before the County Commission and was asked if their budget was satisfactory. In every case the fee officeholders or their representatives said they were fine and would be o.k. For example Property Assessor John Whitehead said "I don't have everything I want, but I have everything I need."

In the case of Cathy Quist. She was represented at the budget hearings by Assistant's Tim Wheeler and Wendy Norris. At no time in their presentation to Commission did Tim Wheeler (who did a majority of the talking) indicate that one position would be eliminated or laid off even momentarily.

As for the process of fee officeholders and the Mayor approving each position. The fee officeholder's are required to submit something called a "salary suit" in this salary suit it list each person, their position and salary. If the Mayor disagrees with the salary suit. The officeholder must then file the salary suit with a Judge. Mr. Arms has informed me today that the Mayor has approved each and every salary suit submitted to him as of this date.

So, the reasons given to Mr. Smith for his position being laid off or eliminated appears not to be accurate.

Original Post: Saturday 7/21/2007 6:16 am - On Friday July 20, 2007 at 4:30 pm Catherine F. Quist the Knox County Circuit, Civil Sessions and Juvenile Court Clerk laid off at least one employee. The reason? Because Knox County did not fully fund the budget request of her office and because the County Commission/Mayor eliminated funds for his position.

Because notice was given to him at 4:30 pm (the conclusion of the work day) he was not allowed to gather his personal items and was escorted from the building by security. He was informed that he would receive his personal items by mail.

Longtime Deputy Clerk Hubert Smith received notice in a letter from Catherine F. Quist that read. "I regret to inform you that effective immediately you are hereby laid off until further notice. The County not only failed to fully fund our salary request but eliminated funds for your position."

A few questions.

If the Clerk's office must implement lay offs in what order are the lay offs considered and implemented? Certainly Hubert is not the newest member of the office, having been employed in the position since 2001. In December 2006, the County Commission voted on and approved a Supervisor position at the request of the Clerk and that position was given to Sharon Cawood, now County Commissioner Sharon Cawood. Within the last 3 weeks there have been at least 3 part time positions hired within the Court Clerk's office.

Where in the budget has the Court Clerk listed specific jobs? Hubert is a Deputy Clerk as are a majority of the employees of the office. You are either Deputy Clerk or a Supervisor. Where does it list a specific Deputy Clerk? That would be necessary in order for the County Commission/Mayor to have eliminated Mr. Smith's position.

What did the County Commission/Mayor know and when did they know it in regards to eliminating funds for Hubert Smith or any other persons position?

If the County Commission/Mayor eliminated funds for any position in the Court Clerk's office. Why was an employee allowed to work 20 days past the first day of the budget year? The budget year began on 7/1/2007. Hubert was laid off on 7/20/2007.

When County Commissioner Sharon Cawood voted for the budget and read into the record that she had a conflict of interest. What did she know and when did she know that she was eliminating one of the positions within the office where she is employed?

Hubert Smith has been a good employee garnering all exemplary evaluations. In addition, Hubert Smith is an employee that qualifies for protection under the age discrimination laws and was the sole black full time employee of the Clerk's Juvenile Court operation.

An interesting twist. Hubert Smith is also the host of the public affairs radio talk show called The Hubert Smith Radio Show which airs every Sunday from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm ET on The Horne Radio Network's WKVL - AM 850. The Show is also simulcast on WLOD - AM 1140 (Loudon County) WATO - AM 1290 (Oak Ridge) and WGAP - AM 1400 (Maryville)

Tomorrow Hubert has scheduled for his show. Joe Hultquist, Knoxville city councilman, District 1, to talk about the great things happening in South Knoxville. There will be a surprise celebrity co-host! Angela McGlowan, FOX News commentator and author of "Bamboozled," will be the guest in hour two.


rightwinginsider2 said...

The Ragsdale retaliation continues.

Brian Hornback said...

This is not Ragsdale.

I was at the budget hearing and Tim Wheeler representing Cathy Quist never mentioned a lay-off. 4 weeks into the enw budget year they discover that Hubert position wasn't funded. That is B.S.

This appears to be an effort to remove the sole black full time employee in the Clerk's office.

I think I know some of the reasons but need to investiagte further. This is Cathy Quist and Tim Wheeler's decision. It is not to late for them to correct a bad decision.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a whistelblower lawsuit in the making.

Anonymous said...

Hornback, your stupid blog got your buddy fired.

live with it.

Brian Hornback said...

It is apparant that all readers of Brian's Blog are not very smart.

I will be posting this weekend about the fall-out on this.

Hubert Smith was NOT the source or even a source for this story. There are several sources for this post and thread. I also have first hand knowledge of an incident related to this post, as well.