Toccoa Human Resources Director Brenda Yearwood responds to criticisms leveled at her in an e-mail sent by Vice-Mayor Andy Pavliscsak.
Yearwood did so during Monday’s Toccoa City Commission meeting in what is called a “liberty interest” hearing, which is a name-clearing hearing.
In August, an e-mail sent to fellow commissioners and the city manager by Pavliscsak became public. In that e-mail, he questions the hiring processes used for filling the Finance Director’s position, as well as what was proposed for the Police Chief’s position, and criticizes Yearwood and City Manager Mike Jackson.
Yearwood stated that much of what Pavliscsak stated in the e-mail is simply not true.
“The e-mail was written as though everything contained in it was factual, when in fact there was so little facts in it, it is appalling,” said Yearwood.
In his e-mail, Pavliscsak asserted that the city manager never appropriately handled the finance director’s search because Yearwood steered him towards the eventual unanimous appointee, Cathy Loudermilk.
Yearwood said that is a twist of the facts.
“When asked by the City Manager how I felt Cathy would do as Finance Director, I truthfully stated ‘Cathy was a dedicated, dependable, intelligent, and trustworthy employee’,” said Yearwood. “I raised questions about her lack of supervisory experience and the responsibilities that go with the becoming the boss instead of a co-worker. I also expressed that Cathy had stepped up to the plate twice before when we were without a Finance Director and she did an outstanding job. I certainly don’t consider my statements as having ‘steered’ the City Manager towards Cathy.”
Yearwood also said Pavliscsak’s claim that a replacement for Loudermilk’s former position had already been interviewed before Loudermilk’s promotion is also completely false.
Pavliscsak also stated in his e-mail that he believes Yearwood is steering the city manager away from making Current Interim Toccoa Police Chief Tim Jarrell the permanent chief.
According to Pavliscsak, Yearwood told the city manager that three police officers ‘by chance meeting’ approached her in opposition to appointing Jarrell as chief, then stating that Yearwood set up those meetings as she attempted to demean Jarrell as part of what Pavliscsak called “an intentionally deceptive strategy.”
Yearwood said that is completely false.
“I resent the implication that I used these meetings to demean the Assistant Chief and that I approached the City Manager with an ‘intentionally deceptive strategy’,” said Yearwood. “Nothing could be further from the truth. There were no text messages sent and there was certainly no demeaning of the Assistant Chief during the course of those conversations. There were positive comments exchanged about all the good that the Assistant Chief had accomplished. Out of the six officers I spoke with, only one made some negative statements. Totally different than what is stated in Vice Mayor Pavliscsak’s e-mail.”
Yearwood also noted that city policy states that the Human Resources Director would be involved in personnel decisions, along with the city manager, when it comes to selecting department heads, a point she says Pavliscsak omitted from his e-mail.
She said the relationship between department heads, the city manager, and the commission should be one of trust and respect.
She said that seems to be lacking when it comes to the vice-mayor.
“Confidence, respect, and trust in management’s ability to do their jobs appear to be lacking in Vice Mayor Pavliscsak,” said Yearwood. “I have seen it time and again where managers and department heads’ morale is negatively affected because of repeatedly being questioned, second-guessed and micro-managed by Vice Mayor Pavliscsak. The facts are we have lost some excellent City Managers and department heads because of this lack of confidence and trust as well as constant meddling in areas that are the responsibility of the staff and not that of a Commissioner.”
Overall, Yearwood said that the e-mail damaged her reputation and called her integrity into question.
“Vice Mayor Pavliscsak’s e-mail called into question my ability to perform my job responsibilities as well as questioning my integrity and reputation, thus creating a hostile work environment,” said Yearwood. “How would you like to know that one of your bosses attacked your integrity and reputation in such a public way?”
According to Yearwood, Pavliscsak apologized to her for the e-mail becoming public, but never for what she called the “false, malicious, unsubstantiated” statements in the e-mail.
Following the meeting, Pavliscak said he was glad Yearwood has provided everyone an opportunity to clear the matter up.