Rules, we don’t need no stinking rules!
Our tip line has started percolating some neat issues. I have reported that things were going to get crazy with the Sheriff’s race and it didn’t take long for that to come about. There was some discussion about how the rules were changed to allow Colonial Strickland (aka Jeff) to run, but it looks like that discussion was somewhat a misnomer; as the rules don’t apply to Colonial Strickland. The story starts back on March 17th when the Director of H.R. sent an e-mail to Jeff Strickland informing him, “that Section 203.4.2 of the Hall County Government Employee Handbook & Policy Guidelines say that “Any County employee seeking elective office within Hall County shall, upon declaring candidacy, either resign or submit a request in writing to the County Administrator or appropriate elected department head, for a leave of absence without pay from the date of his/her announcement through the duration of the campaign or the announcement of election results.””1
It appears that the rules don’t apply here, however. According to the Sheriff’s attorney (and the old/new county attorney) “he is not covered by Civil Service because he is a contract employee and that it is the Sheriff’s discretion as to whether he (Jeff) works past the date he becomes a candidate through announcement. Bill relied on Section II of the Civil Service Act.” It was HR’s feeling that “that contract employees are covered by the employee handbook except for the part that allows grievances and appeals. We give up the right to appeal termination in exchange for severance and other benefits as detailed in our individual contracts. Otherwise, (contract employees) have to comply with the provisions of the handbook, also.”
After the issue was reviewed by Holland and Knight, they came back with the opinion that, “Contract employees are thus neither bound by the generally applicable County Government Employee Handbook and Policy Guidelines for civil service employees, nor are they entitled to the due process protections afforded by the Civil Service Board.”2 So in other words, if you are a “contract employee” with the county the rules don’t apply.
Emboldened by the lack of rules is what most likely generated the next complaint from a part time employee in the Sheriff’s office who complained to H.R. that “Jeff (Strickland) is having secretaries look up the other candidates Facebook page, on work time, to see which employees in the Sheriff’s Dept are friends of the other candidate.”3 This can’t be good. I wonder if Jeff will have them knocking on doors next week or maybe holding signs for him on the side of the road.
I have to agree with the director of H.R. when she said; “I’ve given up any dreams of controlling Jeff (Strickland).”3 I have to wonder if this is the kind of person we want running our Sheriff’s department.
Hugh Hall County Akston
As information, the items below can be found via an ORR.
1- From: “Linda Pryor (HR)”
CC: “Jeff Strickland (Sheriff’s Office)”
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2011 13:43:50 -0400
Subject: FW: New Memo
2- From: email@example.com
To: Linda Pryor (HR)
Cc: Jeff Strickland (Sheriff’s Office); Steve Cronic (Sheriff’s Office); OV.Brantley@hklaw.com
Sent: Sun Mar 20 16:45:27 2011
Subject: RE: Colonel Jeff Strickland/Sheriff Announcement
3- From: “Linda Pryor (HR)”
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 11:04:37 -0400
Subject: RE: Comp Time Payout