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Motion to fire Adel City Manager fails by 3-2 vote

During the Adel City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, heated discussions about alleged inequities in City of Adel employment practices led to complaints of “racial” actions and a motion to fire City Manager John Flythe. The motion failed by a 3-2 vote.

Dr. Treva Gear addressed the City Council during their meeting. She inquired about the hiring process for the City of Adel and the City Hall. She asked how a potential applicant could access the applications.

Mayor Buddy Duke said that “when there is an opening, you can come to the City Hall to pick up an application.”

Dr. Gear further inquired if that was the only way a person could obtain an application. She was advised that if anyone requested an application to be emailed to them, it could be sent that way as well. It is not on-line.

Dr. Gear discussed the application “not being up-to-date,” noting specifically the specialized skills area. She also discussed an additional sheet included that is used for statistical reporting. She said it is a “violation” to ask for that information. “If we are trying to be sure we provide equity, equality, and opportunity, we need to increase accessibility to and assess the applications,” she said.  She added that she hopes “this will be brought up to par in 2022.”

Dr. Gear also asked what the process is from the point of application to interview: “Who is involved; what does it look like?  Are they hireable with an interview or without an interview?”

Mayor Duke noted that Dr. Gear’s time was up. The Mayor advised that city officials would get answers to her questions if she would provide them.

Councilman Greg Paige said, “We just recently hired a person. There were several applicants, in which no one was called for an interview.  How was the hiring process done?” He said the person he was talking about is the former City Clerk of Sparks. [Sonya B. Philpot, former Sparks City Clerk, was recently hired as Human Resources Manager for the City of Adel.]

City Manager John Flythe advised, “The applicants were looked at, and we went with the one most qualified, so that that’s the one we hired.”

Mayor Duke asked if Councilman Paige recalled when the former City Manager, Jerry Permenter, left the City of Adel. “We had 52 applications and chose to interview six,” Mayor Duke said. “We then opened up the process again. Just because someone applies doesn’t mean they will get an interview.”

Councilman Paige inquired if he thought that was “fair.” Mayor Duke replied, “It was fair then.”

Councilman Paige said,  “You had some qualified people with college degrees that were not looked at. We’re not getting top people if we are not interviewing.

“If the City Manager is not doing it fairly, then maybe we need to take that power back from him.”

Councilwoman Celestine Hayes asked if this person filled out the same application that Mrs. Gear had earlier, to which she was advised yes.

Altheia Paige then addressed the Council about “the lack of African-Americans or minorities in management positions.”  “We haven’t had any minorities in management,” Mrs. Paige said. “What is it going to take for any minorities to work in management? There is one in the Police Department, zero in the Fire Department, one at the City Hall, zero in the Recreation Department.  We don’t have anybody to say they are in management. Can you give me a reason why?  No qualified minority is hired or put in management positions that are qualified.”

The city manager advised Mrs. Paige that her statement is incorrect.

Councilman Paige said he disagrees. “There needs to be truth in the matter,” he said, adding that he is “mad and angry.”

“There are no African-Americans in any management positions up here,” he said.

Mrs. Paige said she heard, and “correct me if I’m wrong, that there were four that applied.  Two were late, and one was up here to fill out [the application], and the lights were cut out on her so saying she is late.

“You passed this nepotism, so it’s family-oriented. We need to be getting out of this. We have several minorities qualified. We have failed to get any answers. Are we going to have to file a lawsuit?”

Mayor Duke said he was not in charge of personnel, but knows the “City does its best to critique the applications.  If the applications don’t come in, such as for police and fire, what are you going to hire?”

Mrs. Paige said several applications have been put in with the police and fire. “We had two in the police, and one went to Brooks County,” she said. “There’s been no one replaced in fire since the last one was replaced.

“This is not the 1900s. We’ve got to do better as a City and as a whole. Several have management skills, several have degrees, but they’re not in positions they’re qualified for; you know why?  Family and friends.”

Councilman Paige asked the city manager what he had to say:  “Answer the question.”

Mayor Duke asked Councilman Paige to “calm down.”

Councilman Paige replied if the city manager doesn’t have an answer, “to get one, or fire him.”  Councilman Paige then made a motion “to terminate the city manager tonight.” Councilwoman Hayes seconded.

After a call of the votes, Council Members Paige and Hayes voted in favor of the motion. Council Members Terry McClain, Walter Cowart, and Jody Greene opposed. [The motion failed by a 3-2 vote.]

Councilman Cowart made a motion to adjourn. Councilman Paige said, ‘We’re not going to adjourn so fast.”

Mayor Duke asked if there was “a particular need to stay. We’ve got one that wants to stay and complain, and one that wants to adjourn.” Councilman Paige said, “I’m going to complain when it’s wrong. It’s time out for this racial stuff.”

Mayor Duke asked Councilman Paige to “calm down.”  Councilman Paige said to “stop this racial stuff, and it needs to stop now.”

There was no further business, and the meeting was adjourned.

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