CHAPEL HILL – Town Manager Roger Stancil has upheld another firing challenged by a former town employee despite the Personnel Appeals Committee’s recommendation to reverse the decision.
Kevin “Lee” Thompson was fired on October 1, 2012 after multiple written warnings of wrongdoings. The final one—and the one gaining the most attention—is from July 30 of that year when Thompson removed a fallen tree limb from private property of the State Employees Credit Union on Pittsboro Street in Chapel Hill. He removed that limb while on the clock for the Town, and while using Town-owned equipment, including a chainsaw and truck in which it was hauled away.
In a memorandum from Stancil to Thompson in which he announces his decision, according to Stancil’s own investigation, Thompson stated in a hearing in front of the Personnel Appeals Committee that the limb was between the sidewalk of the bus stop and the right-of-way of the credit union, not on private property. He also stated that he did not profit from the service and that he did not have a deal with the bank manager.
The memorandum goes on to say that the investigation found that Thompson was in fact paid $2,500 by the Credit Union for that service plus a return trip the following weekend to finish the job. Thompson owns a private tree service he used on the weekend; the Credit Union is a regular customer of Thompson’s.
Stancil states he was able to take his investigation further than the citizen-run Appeals Committee was able to which resulted in the additional findings.
Thompson claims that he was not fired because of wrongdoings, but instead for racial reasons and retaliation of ill will built up against Thompson since he joined a union.
Thompson and two other former town employees, Kerry Bigelow and Clyde Clark—also union members, were fired after an investigation and subsequent recommendation by Raleigh-based human resources and compliance agency, Capital Associated Industries said the recommendations of the employees’ supervisors were accurate. In a statement, the Town stated the Human Resources Development Director decided it would be fair to the investigation to hire the outside agency since the HRD had already investigated allegations brought forward by Bigelow.
Attempts to reach Thompson’s attorney, Al McSurely, as well as Town of Chapel Hill representatives were not immediately returned.
Discharged Town Employees Get Hearing - Kerry Bigelow and Clyde Clark
It’s tough to be a boss. Today is a good time to thank those who have taken on the challenge.
So – Happy Boss Day - to all Chapelboro bosses.
By the way, I highly doubt that these bosses are (or were) good bosses every minute of every day. More likely it occurred (or occurs) in bits and bites. And it seems to be about…well…read these stories and see what you think. And then – will you add a story or two about bosses you’ve admired?
1.. Chancellor William Aycock – Chancellor at Carolina from 1957-1964.
2. Basnight Sons & Daughter - Owners of S.H. Basnight & Sons.
3. Bill Blackman & Jim Sloop – Founders of Blackman & Sloop, CPAs, P.A.
4. . Chris Derby – Owner of two UPS Stores.
5. Coach Larry Fedora – Head Football Coach at Carolina.
6. Mac Fitch - Owner of Fitch Lumber Company.
7.. Berkeley Grimball – Owner of Grimball Jewelers.
8. Joe Hakan- Architect for the Dean Smith Center.
9. Jim Heavner, Kay Norris & Bob Woodruff – The Village Companies (now known as VilCom).
10. Al Jeter – Manager of UNC Surplus Store.
11. Matt Lawrence – Chapel Hill Fire Department.
12. Chancellor Carlyle Sitterson – Chancellor at Carolina from 1966-1972.
13. Roger Stancil - Town Manager, Town of Chapel Hill
14. Ray Austin - Former manager of Western Auto.
Write it in comments section below or send to Jan@Chapelboro.com
And what about you?
There’s a story on my wall which is on my wall as an important reminder. It goes like this.
A boy was working on a project in the garage. He was trying to lift a big box but couldn’t budge it.
His father passed by and asked, “Are you using all of your strength?”
“Yes,” the boy replied with that tone of voice that usually goes along with rolling the eyes.
“Are you sure?” said the Dad.
“Yes, Dad. I am trying as hard as I can”.
The father responded calmly, “No. You’re not. You haven’t asked me for help.”
Business leaders are often hesitant to ask for help. They feel like they should have all the answers. And if they don’t, they often turn to a consultant. There can be value in that. There can be even greater value in asking the people who are already right under the same roof. Those who deal with the nitty gritty of the business every day.
And that’s why I applaud the town’s “If I were the boss” program, set up to solicit feedback from employees about the best ways for the town to save money.
Town Manager, Roger Stancil said: “We’re encouraging them and handing out cards and giving them ways to give us their ideas. It’s generally true that the best ideas are in their heads. We want to encourage them to give us those ideas so we can find a new way to do things. We’re calling that the “If I Were The Boss…” campaign.”
The cards referred to in the quote are simple index cards – blank and ready to be filled up with new ideas.
This is an excellent strategy that any business can put to work for the purpose of saving money, streamlining systems, improving customer service – anything.
A few variations I’ve seen on this approach include gathering the staff around the conference table for a brainstorming session or two or three. Or even having each person come prepared to present an idea which starts with the phrase, “If I were the boss, I would….” I like this approach because it requires every person on the team to participate in the process. A mixed approach of presentations, brainstorming and privately submitted suggestions is especially effective.
Time after time, I’ve witnessed staff members coming up with far more ideas that the manager could develop on his own. One time a group I was working with came up with a list of 100 ways to save money!.
An added benefit: when the group is involved in coming up with the ideas, they are much more committed to implementation. They may even be excited about it.
Managers may worry that involving staff could open up a can of worms. Or worries. Both possible. Both valid concerns. But most likely – the staff is already worried. About financial stability of the organization. About job security. And if they are getting no information from the manager, they are most likely making it up in their own minds or in little discussions by the water cooler and in the parking lot.
Wouldn’t it be great if that energy was focused on something that could have a positive impact on the financial health of the organization?
Then again, there’s that can of worms. And those worms can’t help but be messy. So here are a few lessons learned from the school of hard knocks and messy worm can management.
If the manager makes it safe. If the manager asks encouraging questions to draw out more information. If the manager doesn’t interrupt creative flow with long explanations about the reasons things are the way they are. Then it’s amazing the ideas and solutions that can come from these efforts.
I look forward to hearing what comes out of the Town’s “If I were boss” campaign.
And would love to hear from you too.
Have you ever done something like this?
And if so, what were the results?
Will you tell me about it in comments section below? Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest incarnation of the Chapel Hill Town Government’s fumbling quest to cover up the Yates incident is a joke, and may be the most politically revealing. Town Manager Roger Stancil, and presumably the Mayor and Police Chief, have come out with their newest attempt to prevent the truths of this incident from receiving credibility.
Tasked by the Council last week with providing a potential budget for an independent investigation, requested in an 11-page report by the Town’s Community Policing Advisory Committee, Stancil instead presented a counter-proposal in four documents, which he sent to the Council at 4:42 PM this Monday, barely more than two hours before the meeting would start.
Despite this 11th hour release, the Council was ready to vote on Stancil’s proposal not two minutes after discussion began. For such a charged issue that has divided the community and brought national scrutiny upon the Town, this seems like a rather hasty decision – unless, of course, they’d already made up their minds, say, on November 13?
Instead of an investigator, trained to ask the right questions to the right subjects, and equally skilled at piecing together hundreds of stories into a factual timeline, Stancil proposes a website where anyone can post information about the incident, with the CPAC left to pick up the pieces.
The government has yet again sidestepped actually voting on this independent investigation, which Jim Neal petitioned on November 21, again on January 9, and which the CPAC petitioned on January 23. According to the Mayor, with whom I spoke after he adjourned the meeting, the investigation is now “in the ether,” and the Council won’t consider it unless yet another petition is brought to them.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/a-joke-and-the-mayor-is-laughing/
When I attended the first community meeting for Chapel Hill’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan I looked at the hundreds of people gathered at East Chapel Hill High and thought something along the lines of “We’re all wasting our time.” And I questioned the savviness of the public spending that backed it.
It wasn’t that I disparaged the idea or even the good intentions of the architects of the process. Simply put, I’ve believed always that the larger the number of people involved, the less likely it is that any sort of decision or consensus can be reached. And to try to create a plan with hundreds of opinions? Foolishness.
Here it is several months later and I’ve continued to attend as many meetings, presentations, work sessions, etc. as possible and you’re probably wondering why I do, if indeed it is a waste of time. I’m going to answer by describing my journey from cynical skeptic (skeptical cynic?) to earnest believer.
That first night my small group was made up of a true cross-section of those who live, work and play in Chapel Hill. We talked about ideas and ideals and I left thinking- still- “nice words, but…” And yet, people came in the hundreds because they care about their town and the group was not dominated by one voice. I gave credit to the architects of the process for getting so many involved but I still thought that path would lead to stasis.
Then the word clouds appeared, culled from that first night’s work. Who wouldn’t want to live in a safe, lively, sustainable place, I wondered, still thinking that all those nice words couldn’t possibly transform into anything resembling a plan.
So, why did I continue to participate? There’s something awfully seductive about being with people who think the world can be made to be a better place and I started to want to believe them.
Then one meeting got a bit more raucous. Not unpleasant; I’ve seen no examples of less than respectful behavior, but a bit less utopian. It happened to follow Town Manager Roger Stancil’s presentation on our budget woes but most of my fellow work session attendees did not credit that with the change in the tone.
From that point on, the group I’ve joined has attacked and dissected big issues (“big rocks”) in a way that seems to be moving toward an understanding of various points of view and an acknowledgement that give-and-take is the way forward.
Believe me, I’m as surprised as anyone!
If you’ve not yet participated in the process, please click this link for the calendar. It is not too late to join in.
Please post a comment below or write to me at Donnabeth@Chapelboro.com. You are free to write about this post but I’d love it also if others shared a time when they were de-cynicism-ed!http://chapelboro.com/columns/savvy-spender/death-of-a-cynic/
It’s nice to say that we begin 2012 with excitement about Chapel Hill 2020 — and REALLY MEAN IT!
The plan our stakeholders create will take us well beyond the year 2020 in our vision for a sustainable, vital community. The lineup of January presentations is outstanding — health care, retail, housing, economic development, demographics, transportation, Carolina North, and a day devoted to innovation.
The six Theme Groups meet today at 4:30 p.m. January 12 at Glenwood Elementary School; groups then may establish a “final draft” of their goals. We’ve reviewed the draft goals, dropped in on discussions, and we are impressed. We see new thinking; strong knowledge of our community; practical requests for resources and information.
Our stakeholders envision a more holistic plan than the current comprehensive plan — for example, promoting public health and local food sources; exploring economic development and innovation; drilling down on greater waste reduction; staying mindful of our fiscal constraints. More than land use, indeed!
As co-chairs of Chapel Hill 2020 we draw on our past experiences and our contemporary conversations to identify potential Big Issues, which we call the “Big Rocks” — important topics the plan should address. After reviewing the work to date, listening and thinking, we ask the community to consider whether these issues might qualify as Big Rocks, needing attention from our Theme Groups, and a place in the plan.
Some stakeholders have asked in meetings and blog posts, how can we include the schools in our planning? We agree. Any way you cut it, our schools are a major determiner of our community. They relate to the community’s desirability, population, tax rate, real estate values. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system is a major employer. Do they have new site needs? Should we encourage them to grow up (on existing sites) and not out (on new sites)? What about year round school? Are the town and schools maxing out opportunities to share facilities — and save money?
If you own a home in Chapel Hill, 32 percent of your property tax bill goes to the Town of Chapel Hill to fund the Town’s operating budget. The balance of your bill is split between the County (56 percent) and the School District (12 percent). Considering that half of the county budget goes to schools, this means that 40 percent of a what a Chapel Hill homeowner pays in taxes goes toward schools.
Our local public school leaders are developing a new strategic plan. We hope to schedule a presentation from them on their key issues.
“Nurturing Our Environment” has addressed solid waste from some perspectives. In fact, we have a Big Ugly Rock in this road and it is within sight. Orange County assumed management of the countywide solid waste system in 2001. Yet at the dawn of 2012 the county has not settled on a solution for future waste disposal. The landfill closes in 2014. Absent a county solution, should Chapel Hill be seeking its own solution for this important public service?
Read that “Police Station.” The current home of the Chapel Hill Police Department is a disgusting, inefficient, poorly designed, ugly facility. Mold. Hot water problems. It is an embarrassment. If you doubt this let us take you on a tour. Council has identified it as a priority but no money is budgeted toward a new home for our police. The other key capital need Council has identified is programming space for Parks and Recreation — for dances, arts classes, etc. We hope a Theme Group (or two) can fold this into their thinking. Creative solutions? Existing spaces we can adapt for classes and dances? And there’s an underused asset — the old library on Boundary Street. What should be its future?
Downtown and Parking
At our initial visioning session with 475 people, “Downtown” was one of the most frequently occurring words. Scores of people cared about downtown, offered ideas, cited problems. How often do we hear, “I can’t find a place to park downtown so I don’t go”? Talk to any business owner downtown and this is Topic One. Either we need more downtown parking or a crackerjack educational program to tell people how to find existing parking. Or perhaps more creative partnerships with owners of private lots. We encourage our Theme Groups to give downtown the high level of attention the community desires.
Last December 1, Town Manager Roger Stancil reported on the town’s fiscal condition. We learned that for this year the town had replaced funding for street maintenance from annual operating expense with the use of bond funds approved for street improvements. The bond funds will run out but the annual need will continue.. Our road infrastructure is an essential, valuable resource. Beyond function, it’s part of our image and face. We hope the plan will give town infrastructure a priority.
The Greene Tract
In the early 1980s, Mayor Joe Nassif, Mayor Jim Porto of Carrboro and Commissioner Don Willhoit collaborated to purchase this 69-acre tract for a future landfill. The Greene Tract was disqualified as a landfill site but remains a publicly owned resource. It falls under both Chapel Hill’s and the county’s planning jurisdiction. We hope our 2020 stakeholders view this tract thoughtfully as a great public resource for the future. We can share that thinking with the county and Carrboro.
Town-Gown Collaboration on New Built Environment
We have extensive town-gown collaboration — transit, safety, the Downtown Partnership, planning. Can we explore ideas for town-gown collaboration in new development? Opportunities at Carolina North? Joint ventures with the private sector for new student and young faculty housing, either downtown or on transit corridors, so that they will have choices other than living in Northside or commuting from Durham or Chatham County? This is a sustainability goal looking for some outcomes.
Here’s a question for “Getting Around” and “Good Spaces and New Spaces.” The current Land Use Management Ordinance has a “placeholder” page called Transit Corridor Development. Once upon a time (12 years ago) town leaders thought we should specify our transit corridors and what type of new uses and buildings, including scale, should be encouraged along NC 86 and NC 54, for example. Twelve years later, that page is still blank. Can we agree on a 2020 goal that allows us to finally write that page?
A few weeks back I wrote about how a presentation from Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil had made it crystal clear that services would go down, taxes would go up or we could add to our tax base. With that in mind I attended a presentation Tuesday evening on “Retail, Housing, and Economic Development in Chapel Hill” by the town’s economic development officer, Dwight Bassett.
Notice I did not put “Hand Wringing” in the headline. That’s not what Chapel Hill 2020 is about.
This Thursday, December 1, at 4:30 pm, the Chapel Hill 2020 stakeholders will meet to begin setting goals for the new comprehensive plan for our community. If you have not yet participated in this visioning and planning process, please join us Thursday at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School.
Here’s the framework for this Theme Group Working Session. We will all meet together for a presentation by Town Manager Roger Stancil on the Fiscal State of the Town — the budget, costs of various services, projections. The information will be easy to grasp and very helpful to all Theme Groups planning the community’s future.
Then each Theme Group will repair to a separate classroom and the co-chairs/facilitators will ask the groups to begin the goal-setting process. Some draft goals will be on the table, based on comments from all the earlier meetings. They are meant to kick off discussion. The floor will be completely open to suggested goals from stakeholders. If a goal passes the “Why?” test, it moves on to the “How?” test.
Back to the subject of Big Rocks… At our November 19 meeting at Chapel Hill High School, we discussed the importance of the big issues and major themes. One Big Rock we identified is the town’s fiscal challenges.
Like the US government, the NC government, many businesses and many distressed homeowners, the Town of Chapel Hill has its own “new normal”. Chapel Hill is a municipal corporation with mandated duties and a legal requirement to balance its budget annually.
Yet we also have felt the recession through reduced sales tax revenue, and we may face a decrease in property values. Federal and state support to cities and towns is uncertain and likely to decline. Our transit system, for example, would be vulnerable to a federal funding shift.
In the next budget year, 2012 – not 2020 – the Mayor and Council will face the choice of raising taxes or reducing services. This fiscal challenge is at our doorstep.
In setting this citizen-based comprehensive planning process in motion, I believe we have already bypassed the hand-wringing stage. We know we may have to prioritize town services. But we are actively engaged in identifying both challenges and opportunities. Faced with this “new normal,” we are searching for innovation in the way we do things to make our community as vibrant and healthy as possible, in all respects.
Hope to see you Thursday.
p.s. If you missed Mitch Silver’s talk on demographics and planning, you can catch it for the next two weeks at the following site: http://chapelhill.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=9http://chapelboro.com/columns/chapel-hill-2020/wrestling-with-big-rocks-setting-goals/