Harassment Charges filed against Walton County

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Kaydence, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. MorningGlory

    MorningGlory Beach Lover

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    Really!!! Wow!! So glad they told us something that we didnt already know!! :sarc:
     
  2. Kaydence

    Kaydence Beach Fanatic

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    From the Grand Jury Report Dated September 4th 2015
    "County Commissioners should not be involved in the day to day operations of the County"!

    OK Bill Eddins do your job!
     

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  3. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    Yup, let's see Bill Eddins do his job...

    Maybe when he's done with the mess in DFS involving the Mayor, ex-Finance Director(s) and the new County Planning Department Head, he can do something about this...

    :yawn:
     
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  4. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    It is not over until it is over. My guess is a court will make the final decision. Mrs Hinote and Mr. Alford refused to speak to the investigator because Sidney our county attorney and the investigator would not allow them to have anyone present not even their own attorney. How tell me what county employee would go to be interviewed knowing Jerry Jomes could be watching every employee that went in . Did Jerry Jones take a gun to a citizens home twice, did that citizen notify Mike Adkinson by phome. Now tell me would you be afraid. This citizens wife sure was. THE BEST IS YET TO COME, STAY TUNED.
     
  5. Kaydence

    Kaydence Beach Fanatic

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    The State Attorney sure is dragging his feet on doing his job in Defuniak! No surprise there.

    I had someone tell me they gave another deposition on that issue the other day and that they had also spoken with Pam Bondi!

    We certainly got someone's attention!
     
  6. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    My understanding is there is a Grand Jury investigation going on at this time, not on this matter but on DeFuniak Springs matter.
     
  7. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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  8. Mandy Martin

    Mandy Martin Beach Comber

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    Hmmm
    No court reporter
    Witnesses not recorded
    No verbatim of witnesses
    Wonder why this investigation wasnt done like all the others?
    I know.....so they can hide the truth.
    Explains why there is no contract with the investigating attorney. How much you want to bet an employee will take the blame.
     
  9. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    I will never let that happen. I am here for the long term
     
  10. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    We are so lucky to have employees willing to step out and tell the truth. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose. They just want to come to work and do their job. Sad the have to fight not only the commissioner but also her husband. I hope the good people in Walton County see through this. Old saying you get what you pay for and we sure got what her backers paid for.
     
  11. Kaydence

    Kaydence Beach Fanatic

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    DeFuniak Springs investigation could go to grand jury

    By TOM McLAUGHLIN

    Posted Nov 13, 2017 at 12:01 AM
    Updated Nov 13, 2017 at 8:02 AM

    The State Attorney’s Office began its review of the way the city of DeFuniak Springs runs its government in July when complaints of fiscal mismanagement arose.

    DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — It will be after the holidays before officials learn whether State Attorney Bill Eddins intends to take an investigation of the city’s financial fumbling to a grand jury.
    “We are making substantial progress, and I expect we will complete our review and make a decision in January whether we will present our findings to a grand jury for further review,” Eddins said last week.
    The State Attorney’s Office began its review of the way the city of DeFuniak Springs runs its government in July when complaints of fiscal mismanagement arose.
    City officials were notified by their attorney in June that nearly $221,000 in sales tax revenues and municipal revenue sharing funds had been lost over a two-year period due to the failure to file required audits and annual financial reports in a timely manner.
    The city initially failed to file either an audit or an annual financial report for fiscal 2013-14, according to attorney Clayton Adkinson’s report. A similar scenario played out during the 2014-15 reporting cycle.
    The reporting violations were exacerbated by the city failing to respond to warning letters from the state, Adkinson said in his report. By the time city officials did get around to turning in required documents, they’d already heard from the state that they’d lost their funding.

    State Attorney investigators continue to obtain documents and interview witnesses in the case, Eddins said. Those interviewed include city employees and City Council members as well as accountants and state employees versed in sales tax issues.
    The scope of the inquiry was expanded in October when questions arose about what had happened to $368,063 the city obtained through a 2014 legal settlement with British Petroleum.
    Eddins compared the city investigation to a 2015 inquiry that looked at the Walton County Planning Department.
    In that case, paperwork uncovered by a department employee showed that twice, once in 2005 and again in 2006, accounting errors had led to a failure to collect proper recreation fees from development interests. The first time, $614.25 was charged when the bill should have been $614,250. The second time, $20,560.25 was charged on a $205,560.25 invoice.
    That case was turned over to a grand jury that not only found “the failure to collect almost $800,000 in recreation fees to be egregious and unacceptable,” but also called for the indictment of Pat Blackshear, a former Planning Department director, on perjury charges.
    Blackshear pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to two and a half years of probation.
     
  12. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    "Investigation finds Jones innocent of wrongdoing", yup, go ahead and read it again, slowly.

    Innocent is a strong word.

    That's the cover story in the Walton Sun this week...

    HOWEVER, if one takes the time to read the article, you might just question the validity of that headline and like myself, start to create some other options for a headline, none of which use the word "innocent".

    Of course Commissioner Jones is "pleased" and "gratified" by the findings, who wouldn't be. She and the county have been able to white wash the entire thing.

    What sort of an "investigation" doesn't allow the witness/complainant to have their legal advocate present with them? Last I checked, the County is a government entity, funded by tax dollars. It is not a private firm or private business. From the get go, anyone participating in this "investigation" should have been weary of this situation and I don't fault anyone for being concerned about retaliatory action.

    Also, part of an thorough investigation is to identify and interview ALL WITNESSES. Not some, or a few, but ALL. This obviously was also not done as the attorney for the employees is on record saying there were others wanting to speak, but they were not interviewed? WHY?

    Witness Statements were not recorded? Why Not? Wouldn't the County want a formal record of what the employees all have to say about Commissioner Jones? Of course they WOULD NOT want that. You know why? Because after this fiasco is all over, those recorded statement would be subject to public record requests and the County doesn't want the public to hear what its employees have to say.

    I'm sure this is far from over and unfortunately it looks as if the only way the employees will get the truth out is though the court system.

    Support the Walton County Employees.
     
  13. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    These employees will day Get their day to prove what is true. Many of us will see to that.
     
  14. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    Remember you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can not foo all of the people all of the time.

    Who in a black truck ran Danny Hlidewell’s wife Of the road and into a ditch.

    What commissioners husband took a gun to Nob Hudson’s house twice.

    What commissioners husband threaten a citizen in front of witnesses.

    Their guesses and first two do not count.
     
  15. Kaydence

    Kaydence Beach Fanatic

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    "Complaints of any nature are taken seriously by the county," said Larry Jones. “In this instance, once presented with the employee complaints, it was important to ensure that they were thoroughly and independently investigated.

    What a joke!

    The key for an independent investigation is that the investigators must have no official ties to the people they are investigating. Gary R. Wheeler, a partner in the Jacksonville law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith, & Prophete, specializes in labor law and was hired by the county! Of course he will find for the people writing his check!!

    "Wheeler interviewed County Administrator Larry Jones, Cecilia Jones, Human Resources Director Ella Mae Walters, Assistant County Administrator Stan Sunday, and Cecilia Jones’ assistant, Evelyn Strickland." So let me get this straight...the attorney only spoke with those whose job it is to cover the BCC's a$$es! There were other employees who requested to participate in the investigation, but their names were not listed on the investigator’s report. It was not real credible of the Attorney to interview Ella Mae Walters who has subsequently been arrested and charged with insurance fraud!! If she would lie to obtain benefits she was not entitled to for her boyfriend by logging onto someones else's computer to make it appear that someone else committed the fraudulent acts, there is NOTHING PREVENTING her from LYING to cover Cecilia Jones actions!! She is not credible!! She is a fraud!!

    "Walton County Attorney Sidney Noyes advised Sullivan to direct complaints outside the realm of Board of County Commissioners to other agencies." "Hinote and Alford have claimed that Commissioner Jones’ husband has followed them in an attempt to intimidate, but Wheeler said those claims were outside the scope of his investigation." So who was really leading this dog and pony show? Well of course the County was!!



     
  16. Kaydence

    Kaydence Beach Fanatic

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    Article by Deborah Wheeler:

    Two Walton County employees working in different fields filed complaints against County Commission Chair Cecilia Jones in October claiming discrimination and harassment.

    Last week, Gary R. Wheeler, a partner in the Jacksonville law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith, & Prophete, which specializes in labor law and was hired by the county, released findings of an investigation he conducted.

    Wheeler found Jones innocent of wrongdoing in both cases filed by Assistant County Administrator Dede Hinote and Recreation Manager Brad Alford.

    “I am pleased with and gratified by these findings,” said Jones.

    Attorney Jennifer Sullivan of Destin represented both claimants.

    Sullivan said the investigator’s reports are not surprising.

    “The report contains no facts to support the conclusions and no summaries of witness statements,” she said.

    Sullivan was not allowed to be present when her clients were interviewed and they were not recorded. Instead, her clients submitted written statements in lieu of interviews.

    Sullivan said there were other employees who requested to participate in the investigation, but their names were not listed on the investigator’s report.


    “Similar to my clients, these employee-witnesses feared participating without some record of their statements, which the investigator would not allow,” she said. “This was not the independent investigation as we requested.”

    Sullivan said her office continues to be contacted by Walton County employees about issues involving the same county officials and employees.

    “We are considering all options,” said Sullivan.

    During the investigation of both, Wheeler interviewed County Administrator Larry Jones, Cecilia Jones, Human Resources Director Ella Mae Walters, Assistant County Administrator Stan Sunday, and Cecilia Jones’ assistant, Evelyn Strickland.

    Both Hinote and Alford have claimed that Commissioner Jones’ husband has followed them in an attempt to intimidate, but Wheeler said those claims were outside the scope of his investigation. Walton County Attorney Sidney Noyes advised Sullivan to direct complaints outside the realm of Board of County Commissioners to other agencies.

    Hinote’s and Alford’s allegations share the common assertion that Commissioner Jones has interfered with day-to-day operations, including injecting herself into employment decisions and directing county personnel to carry out various tasks at her discretion.

    Wheeler found that no county policy expressly prohibits County Commissioners from becoming involved in day-to-day operations, but county policy does prohibit commissioners from taking certain personnel actions in regards to employment.


    Wheeler found no violation by Jones of any policies. Nor was there any evidence of gender discrimination or harassment, which was alleged by Hinote.

    “While there was no indication that Commissioner Jones violated the authority of commissioners’ policy, facts were revealed that indicate Jones does sometimes become involved in certain day-to-day personnel matters,” he said.

    Wheeler’s recommendation was for the county to take steps to clarify the role of a commissioner and to discuss best practices.

    “The report encourages the county to develop policies to better help commissioners and staff communicate in a more consistent manner. I agree with this recommendation,” said Commissioner Jones.

    Essentially, the Authority of Commissioners policy prohibits County Commissioners from taking any tangible employment action (such as hiring, terminating, demoting, or promoting).

    “Complaints of any nature are taken seriously by the county,” said Larry Jones. “In this instance, once presented with the employee complaints, it was important to ensure that they were thoroughly and independently investigated. Now that the investigations are complete and the findings of no wrongdoing have been submitted, we look forward to learning from this process and moving forward, working together for a better Walton County.”

    Noyes told The Sun that Wheeler’s bill is being paid by the county’s insurer, FACT.

    www.waltonsun.com/news/20171122/investigation-finds-jones-innocent-of-wrongdoing
     
  17. Kaydence

    Kaydence Beach Fanatic

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    The article in my opinion is a real disservice to Walton County taxpayers.
     

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