It's Called Karma - 07/09/14
Hendersonville is a beautiful little city with bustling growth and a gorgeous lake. However, over the past year, a lack of oversight in city government has overshadowed all that is right there.
After 10 months of a Waste Watch investigation, Fox 17 is getting action. I am happy to report, the taxpayers of Hendersonville and city workers who were wronged... are finally getting the vindication and respect they deserve. Over the last week, the public works director was fired for among other things retaliating against employees who brought safety violations to his attention. Both men sued. Here are links to those previous reports.
Whistleblower Lawsuit 1
Whistleblower Lawsuit 2
Also, over the last week, the Tennessee Occupational Safety Hazard Administration or TOSHA, has finished its investigation and reported at last night's Board of Alderman meeting, "On the surface it appears this allegation is true." With that, Alderman instructed the mayor to rehire those guys and several more who were demoted, ridiculed, forced out, etc... for reporting safety violations or questioning anything whatsoever in the public works department. The city is offering them their jobs back, some of them with back pay, in hopes they'll drop their lawsuits. One man, who was wrongly fired, had to sell his vehicle and many of his assets just to eat.
You know what really gets me.... During all of this, while the then public works director was refusing to do the right thing and fix safety violations... he was also allegedly using the city credit card to buy himself new shirts, pants and hats. That Waste Watch investigative piece can be viewed here.
Jerry Horton's Credit Card Use
Again, the city was also, by many accounts misusing state street aid to buy nice new vehicles for a few administrators to drive. That Waste Watch can be seen here.
State Street Aid
I wasn't the only one investigating misspending, abuse of power and retaliation against workers who reported safety concerns. It started with one phone call from one brave person which resulted in one investigative report. Then one lead to another lead to another. Before I knew it, I had done about 8 investigative pieces on this one city alone. I want to say though, it took many of us coming from many different directions to get action. Fellow reporter Tena Lee at Hendersonville Star News and Neil Siders at Everything Hendersonville got the ball rolling and were so helpful to me along the way. There were and are several responsible and concerned aldermen including (but not limited to) Arlene Cunningham, Mark Skidmore and Rosa Long whose hearts are in the right place. Several more grassroots movements like Sumner United For Responsible Government and proactive citizens like Donna DeSopo, Ken Jakes and Kurt Riley deserve a lot of credit too. And let's not forget the brave, brave employees who had the guts to speak up in the first place and call me or the other reporters... even when their jobs were on the line. There are many more anonymous sources who I'm indebted to for loads and loads of information that the city of Hendersonville administrators refused to provide, hid and stonewalled on. Thank you. You know who you are and you've done something great for your fellow coworkers and the citizenry as a whole.
Tonight (Wed July 9,) I have yet one more Waste Watch report on Hendersonville summing up all of this. I hope you'll tune in at 9.
Those elected to serve should do just that..... it's pretty simple and the truth will always prevail. Here's a previous blog on the subject. Repeaters vs Reporters