Posted in: Exclusive, Opinion, Stewart's Blog

Stewart’s Blog: Former CDA Employees Deserve Better

Posted on August 14, 2016

Stewart’s Blog: Former CDA Employees Deserve Better

Our local government has stained the reputation of three of our fellow citizens. Now, through legal maneuvers, they are trying to break their spirit and hide the truth.

This is an embarrassing story of how the powerful hide their own failings at the expense of hard working public servants.

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Three dedicated public servants got up each morning and went to work. For years they did their job and kept our community safe through their work in law enforcement.

Then the Community Dispatch Agency (CDA) was created and everything changed.

Since its inception, the problems with the CDA have been well documented. System failures, bad directions, life impacting delays, and hang-ups. The type of things we did not read about before the CDA was created.

And then tragedy struck. A law enforcement officer was killed by a mad man and the CDA was front page news again. More problems.

This time the high level bureaucrats needed scapegoats. And with little resistance from our elected leaders, they found them with three veteran employees.

Fire dispatcher Darryl Newman, dispatcher Doyal Hester and dispatch supervisor Gwendolyn Forehand were fired Dec. 5, 2014 by CDA Director Tim Lee.

Mr. Lee fired the three workers for not following proper protocol related to premise hazards. Mr. Lee claimed their actions led to the ambush and death of Leon County Sheriff’s deputy Chris Smith.

The three workers were distraught and felt betrayed.

After they were fired, the problems at the CDA continued, memorialized in a number of headlines. And then an audit requested by City Commissioner Scott Maddox, revealed troubling findings about CDA operations.

For example, the audit found that the “areas for which formal policies and procedures have not been completed as of the date of our review included, for example, premises hazards, training, and fire dispatching.” (Page 104 City Audit 1505, emphasis added).

The protocol that Mr. Lee said the three CDA employees did not follow, did not seem to exist.

And then it was discovered that Mr. Lee was aware of the protocol problems before Deputy Chris Smith was killed.

Not surprisingly, CDA Director Tim Lee resigned in December, 2015.

In January, 2016 the fired dispatchers filed a lawsuit that argued they never received proper training on alerting law enforcement to premise hazards. The suit also accuses LCSO of discriminating against the dispatchers because they were former City of Tallahassee employees.

Given the facts, you would think our local government would work with these three fired employees toward a settlement. Instead our government is now attempting to avoid a trial – where the truth would be revealed – by legal maneuvering.

In response to the former employees’ lawsuit in early August, the CDA contends that former Director Tim Lee had the authority to approve exceptions to employment policies and dismiss employees.

In other words, the three fired employees have no recourse in court because our local government has “the unilateral right to decide what constitutes misconduct, what constitutes poor performance.”

This disgusting display of bureaucratic arrogance should concern everyone.

It is time for our elected officials to get involved.

This lawsuit should be settled and the three fired CDA dispatchers should receive an apology while there is still an opportunity for them to restore the reputation they have worked a lifetime to secure.

By the way, after Mr. Lee resigned as the CDA Director, he was hired by the City of Tallahassee.

9 Responses to Stewart’s Blog: Former CDA Employees Deserve Better

  1. S Grimes Reply

    August 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    They should be reinstated.

  2. Derek Kidd Reply

    August 15, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Not only reinstated (if they wanted to return) but given a large check plus back pay etc..The city settles with the thugs parents after TPD Officers have been cleared by criminal and a grand jury of our citizens for $300,000 + dollars. In this case the thug tried to run over officers with his car and he sadly lost his life for his ignorant actions. The city and county need to pay up for these 3 dispatchers. All 3 of them were great dispatchers and did not deserve to be thrown under the bus like they were. It’s time to pay up……

  3. Hope Reply

    August 15, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Remember County Commission Chair Kristen Dozier was writing ‘My Views’in The Tallahassee Democrat exclaiming the successes of the CDA although it was failing miserably. This was only days before the Markel tragedy. Editor Bob Gabordi failed to question the egregious ‘My View.’ It was a PR stunt to misinform citizens regarding their safety. County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley said and did nothing! Vince Long did nothing. Scott Maddox did nothing. Nick Maddox did nothing…and it happened again! The inaction allowed for the CDA mismanagement to continue. Another tragedy, but an – LCSO deputy paid the price – for the above doing nothing. Nancy Miller said and did nothing, but she did give her campaign manager TAPP contracts, favoritism to the Edison owner, voted to make the community more dangerous by extending bar hours. All of the above did NOTHING! SAID NOTHING! No leaders are taking responsibility for their mismanagement and inaction, but they are scapegoating the rank and file. Unconscionable!

    • News_Maven Reply

      August 16, 2016 at 5:02 am

      Do the County Commisars have to pass a drug test before serving? Or are the exalted exempt?

  4. Clifton Reply

    August 15, 2016 at 9:07 am

    The merger resulted in a larger staff than what existed before the merger, with county employees receiving pay raises, plus a high paid manager. The result is worse than the separate system that existed before. That does not make any sense. The voters were sold a lie that this would be cheaper and more efficient. Half the staff positions should be cut.

    • ss202sl Reply

      August 22, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      More efficient doesn’t always mean cheaper. Solar is more efficient then connecting to the grid, but it requires investment in equipment – that you may not ever recover. Same for a hybrid car – they’re more efficient, but have a high initial cost.

  5. brad Reply

    August 15, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Same old same old

  6. Suzzette Reeves Ghale Reply

    August 15, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    This is a travesty!! The City of Tallahassee owes these 3 employees an apology and a huge paycheck for pain and suffering, defamation, etc… They were used as scapegoats to quell the rumblings from the horrible incident with Deputy Smith amidst the now-obvious fact that there were no real standard operating procedures in place.

    I worked side-by-side with one of the fired dispatchers for several years during my tenure of 11 years at The Tallahassee Police Department and would, without a doubt testify to his character and his abilities in the TPD Comm Center. This is not the first time a dispatcher was “sacrificed” to appease angry citizens or administrators.

    I find the actions of Mr Lee, et al, to be abhorrent!! These 3 dispatchers deserve to be absolved of any wrongdoing, be re-hired (if they’d like), receive their back-pay and be given a settlement.

    The stench of this is overwhelming and reeks of the typical BS that goes on in these types of situations. The citizens of Tallahassee and Leon County need to step up and help these 3 dispatchers that were literally raped by the powers that be at The CDA!

  7. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot Reply

    August 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    If the city follows its past practice, it will settle the case rather than litigate it because that’s cheaper than going to trial. At least that’s the justification given in the past.

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