Waste Watch Hendersonville TOSHA Investigation
Updated: Wednesday, July 9 2014, 10:58 PM CDT
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Fox 17 gets action with our waste watch reporting. Two fired whistleblowers could soon be back on the job after we exposed the Hendersonville city manager who fired them. When former public works employees Loren Perdue and Robert Cox sued Hendersonville under the Whistleblower Act, they couldn't wait to hear these words: "On the surface it appears this allegation is true" delivered by Steve Hawkins, a TOSHA Administrator.
At Hendersonville's Board meeting, this investigator from TOSHA.. the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration substantiated Perdue and Cox's claims. Cox reacts, "It shouldn't have taken an outside entity to come in here and sit there and point out all the safety concerns."
Perdue and Cox, as we reported in a series of waste watch reports sued after they say they were fired for reporting safety concerns like bald tires, unlatched trailers and wrecks by an unqualified employee dating then public works director Jerry Horton who admitted he "assisted her" in completing the job application--- all the while they say refusing to fix these problems and using his city issued credit card for personal purchases like pants, hats and shirts...
As Fox 17 first reported last week, Jerry Horton has now been fired as a result.
Attorney Roland Mumford wonders, "Why wasn't the lawsuit sufficient? Why weren't the employees' complaints sufficient or that of citizens? Why did it take TOSHA do it? That is the main question. There was obstruction and they were giving false excuses to TOSHA to have employees interviewed and the TOSHA investigator I know for a fact had to push and push and push against stonewalling by the city attorney and by the mayor and by other city officials to get to the truth, but finally the investigator with TOSHA got to the truth."
As I outlined in previous reports, Fox 17 too experienced that same stonewalling. On more than six occasions over several weeks this year,
I too tried to get answers to questionable purchases, alleged misspent money and overlooked safety violations...
Now, this unanimous vote shows Hendersonville is deciding to change course. After firing Horton, and in an effort to avoid the costly lawsuits, they decided to hire back Cox and Perdue with back pay, if they drop their litigation.
Alderman and Public Works Chairman Mark Skidmore says, "I'm always concerned about taxpayer money and what cost it takes especially in litigation. It's so expensive these days."
The Mayor of Hendersonville declined to comment. Hendersonville government also voted to offer jobs back to other employees who were demoted, intimidated or quit because of retaliation by former public works director Jerry Horton.