Controversy over city employee firings in Gallaway - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Controversy over city employee firings in Gallaway

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

GALLAWAY, TN (WMC-TV) - In the past week, five city employees have been fired or have resigned in Gallaway.  Monday, Don James said Gallaway's Board of Commissioners wrongfully fired him from his job as City Manager.

"It's sorta disturbing," he said Monday.

James was one of five city employees who were shown the door last week, including the Police Chief, who was demoted, a police officer who resigned, and two city court clerks, who were relieved of their duties.

"There are people that are so vindictive...I don't understand that," James said. "How can people hate so much?"

James believes he was fired because he and other officials made a decision to repair a culvert along a bridge.

"The road was falling in and we just had to make an immediate decision on what to do," he said.

Gallaway City Commissioner Charlie Simpson explained the problem.

"He's supposed to get three bids, and basically anything over $10,000 he had to get the bids and go before the Board, and they were mad because the work was basically given to one man," Simpson said.

But resident Leslie Holte says this is not the only issue residents have had with city employees.  According to Holt, there have been recent allegations of civil rights and EEOC complaints, as well as other problems he believes have been covered up by police.

"If you wink, blink or move in this town in a vehicle you're going to get a ticket," Holte said. "That's how they raise the revenue.  That's why they're mad.  We got tired of it."

While Gallaway Mayor Nick Beretta was not available to talk with us on camera Monday, he said the vote by City Commissioners to fire James was illegal. 

However, Simpson says it should be left up to the City Attorney.

"He's the one, in my opinion, who should've made the call if it's illegal or not," Simpson said.

Beretta said the City Manager should have been given a verbal or written reprimand before the board terminated him.  According to Gallaway's City Charter, the City Manager, 'shall serve at the will of the board.'

It says after a period of twelve months in office, Commissioners can remove the City Manager for incompetence or neglect of duty.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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