Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mayor Willis Terminates 6 More Employees

According to sources close to city hall and various affected employees, the six people named below were relieved of their respective duties with the City of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas today. The reason for their separation was spelled out in a letter presented to them by Marilyn Kountz, Administrative Assistant to Mayor Willis, who was escort by Captain Elijah Petty who provided her with a security detail.

Here's the text of the letter submitted to each employee. The employees each received similar letters.

Those receiving separation letters were:

Ms. Belinda Davis Covington;
Ms. Renita Danley;
Mr. John Huff;
Ms. Tracey Williams Davis;
Ms. Zellie Jackson Word; and
Ms. Clanecia Jackson.

Following termination, an employee may file an appeal according to the city's employee handbook. Here's the language from the handbook:

Should an employee's performance, work habits, overall attitude, conduct or demeanor become unsatisfactory including, but not limited to, violations listed in this Handbook, or any other City policy, rule or regulation, directive or ideal, the employee may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Disciplinary action may include, but is not limited to:

WARNING OR REPRIMAND. A warning or reprimand is action used to alert the employee that his or her performance is not satisfactory or to call attention to the employee's violation of employment rules and/or regulations. City employees may be officially reprimanded orally or in writing.

SUSPENSION. Suspension involves the removal of an employee from his or her job. An employee may be suspended with or without pay.

DEMOTION. A demotion is an action that places the employee in a position of less responsibility and less pay.

TERMINATION. This type of disciplinary action is a removal of an employee from city employment.


After disciplinary action has been approved by the Department Head and the Mayor, employees shall be granted the option to appeal certain disciplinary actions. The actions which are subject to appeal are as follows:

1.                 Suspensions three (3) days or longer without pay;
2.                 Failure to Promote;
3.                 Demotion; or
4.                 Termination

In order to appeal a decision, the employee is required to submit a letter to the Mayor's Office requesting to appeal the disciplinary action. The appeal letter must be received by the Mayor's office within 10 days after the date on which the disciplinary action is formally taken. The disciplinary action is formally taken on the date on which the Mayor's Office approves the disciplinary action. The Mayor's office will mail a notice to the employee's regular address via regular mail informing the employee of the date of the action taken and the deadline for the appeal of said action.

This optional appeal process in no way waives the City's at-will employment status with the employee.

The City Council after conducting an appeal hearing on the matter will either sustain or overrule the decision made by the Department Head and the Mayor. To overrule the decision the City Council will need the vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the whole number of council members. If the council fails to overrule the decision, then the decision is sustained and becomes final at that point. If the council overrules the decision, then the council may alter the decision in whatever lawful fashion it decides.

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