Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary’s three-day suspension of Public Works Director Chip Moore without pay earlier this year will remain overturned after Clary abruptly withdrew his appeal to have it reinstated Tuesday.
The decision not to pursue reinstatement of the suspension, which was overturned by the city’s Management Review Committee earlier this month, came after there appeared to be a lack of support from a majority of the Hendersonville Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
“It wasn’t going to pass,” Clary said following the meeting, which ended just before midnight. “Why continue?”
Clary suspended Moore for three days without pay on May 23 citing several traffic and safety issues that he claimed had been unnecessarily delayed or held up due to the public works director’s inaction for months.
Among the projects Clary listed include a traffic signal synchronization; traffic study for Imperial Boulevard and Rockland Road; researching setting additional signals to flashing yellow overnight; fixing unnecessary changes to the right-turn arrow at Winston Hills and Saundersville Road; responding to a request for traffic calming on Coarsey Boulevard; and implementing changes in the Wynbrooke subdivision that were recommended by a traffic engineer.
“I have no reasons to try to slow down any project,” Moore told city leaders during a presentation about the status of each project Tuesday. “We have more projects than we can handle to be honest.
“We as staff do everything we can with the people we have.”
Following the suspension, Moore immediately appealed the decision to the city’s Management Review Committee, which overturned the suspension on July 11.
Hendersonville Human Resources Director Peter Voss told city leaders Tuesday that the suspension did not follow the line of progressive discipline, which “normally” involves a verbal and written warning before suspension.
“I think Chip does a good job,” Ward 6 Alderman Matt Stamper said. “Are there things he could improve on? Yeah.”
“What I have an issue with is this being the first step in discipline. To me, it came out of the blue.”
Brandon Meredith, Moore’s attorney, told city leaders earlier this month that there has been tension between his client and Clary since at least Jan. 18 when Clary forced Moore to sign a document stating that Moore would not proactively contact aldermen and would notify the mayor of any conversations as soon as possible.
The act was a direct violation of state law, which says that “no public employee shall be (prohibited) from communicating with an elected public official for any job-related purpose,” according to Meredith.
Moore’s suspension, he added, was retaliation for hiring an attorney to address the situation.
Clary denied the allegation Tuesday.
“(The suspension) was for the lack of progress for those projects,” Clary said referencing the May 23 letter. “The timing was because I could not accept more promises with nothing being done.
“I want (Moore) to stay, but we have to do something more than accept apologies and promises.”
Ward 5 Alderman Darrell Woodcock said the was situation was “embarrassing” for the city and would be a “bad decision” no matter what outcome was reached.
“I’m glad this was the last thing on the agenda and not the first thing so all those children would (not) see how our government is functioning,” he added.
With Clary’s withdrawal of his appeal Tuesday, City Attorney John Bradley said the Management Review Committee’s decision to overturn Moore’s suspension becomes final.
“It makes it hard to work,” Moore said about the situation after the meeting. “I care about this city. I’ve worked in it a lot and I know a lot of its problems and concerns.
“I look forward to trying to fix this.”