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Authority to address complaint against member

— CONYERS — The Rockdale County Water and Sewerage Authority was set to discuss a letter of complaint regarding one of the Authority members at its Dec. 20 meeting, but instead set a meeting date where the letter will be the only item on the agenda.

The Authority will meet at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Rockdale Water Resources at 2420 Tatum Road to discuss the complaints filed by Rockdale Water Resources employee Michelle Prescott against Authority member Garvin Haynes. Prescott is a senior business and technical services coordinator with RWR.

Chairman Elaine Nash said Haynes was unable to attend the Dec. 20 meeting to discuss the complaint because he said she had notified him of the meeting date but omitted the time and place.

“That was the excuse that Garvin gave,” said Nash, “and he was going on vacation, but he is willing to show up at a later meeting.”

Prescott filed her complaint against Haynes on Nov. 12, citing Haynes’ “rude and offensive” tone and comments about RWR Director Dwight Wicks in an email sent to her on Nov. 8. According to Prescott’s complaint letter, Haynes’ email was in response to an email she had sent out regarding work on RWR’s fiscal policy. She wrote that Haynes followed up with an email directed at her that was “even more offensive.”

Prescott further stated that in the nearly 12 years she has worked there, she has never seen RWR run as well as it is today.

“It’s very difficult for me to understand why Mr. Haynes continues down the path of trying to destroy something we have all worked so hard for,” she wrote.

Prescott added, “I have watched (Haynes) almost tear the Authority and RWR apart, and also seen him berate many staff members in meetings and through many emails over the past year. No one deserves to be on the receiving end of this type of behavior.”

Prescott’s letter isn’t the only pending complaint against Haynes.

In June RWR Deputy Director Terrell Gibbs outlined a list of complaints about Haynes’ behavior and asked the Authority to remove Haynes from the board based on his grievances. At the time, Nash said the Authority’s bylaws didn’t give the Authority the power to remove a member.

Then in August, the Authority considered a motion by member William Murrain to censure and remove Haynes from the board. Murrain said that Haynes had “embarked on a course of action which has brought the reputation, credibility and comity of this able body into public disrepute.”

The motion was tabled to allow Haynes time to present a written defense. The Authority also discussed changes to its bylaws that would delineate circumstances by which a member could be removed.

The Authority has since drafted a new set of bylaws that specifically provide for the removal of a board member. According to the bylaws, “By majority vote, the Authority may recommend to the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners, that a member be removed from the Authority for cause. The causes for removal include violation of the Authority’s Code of Ethics.”

The Authority also has drafted a new code of ethics. The code prohibits board members from engaging in the following:

• Immoral or indecent conduct, which tends to violate commonly accepted standards of decency or morality.

• Fighting or use of fighting words to instigate a fight or disturbance while on duty, in meetings or work sessions, and/or while on Authority or county property.

• Fraud, falsehood, perjury or misconduct involving any willful, intentional or deliberate misstatement or concealment of material fact in connection with appointment, records, responsibilities, reports, investigations or proceedings, or intentional misuse of time or assets of the Authority.

• Mistreatment of other employees of the Authority or county by verbal abuse.

• Using intimidation tactics and making threats.

• Stalking others.

• Actions or interruptions that are not work related and prevent Authority or county employees from completing their job responsibilities or assigned tasks.

Parts of the code would appear to directly address some of the complaints filed by Gibbs in June.

Some of those grievances included:

• Illicit after-hours phone calls to staff in which he was seemingly under the influence;

• Discriminatory comments directed to staff;

• Misrepresenting the county in an unauthorized capacity;

• Obstructing department progress;

• Being divisive;

• Purposely lying in an attempt to intimidate and ruin the personal and professional reputation of staff in order to push his own agenda.

Gibbs said he isn’t sure if the Authority will take up his complaints against Haynes, but noted that there is hope that 2013 will be a more harmonious year than 2012.

“It looks like some level of reconciling is on the horizon, and hopefully we can move forward and laugh at this one day as a distant memory,” he said.