December 18, 2013 9:33:38 AM
Starkville aldermen suspended Sanitation and Environmental Services Director Emma Gandy for 10 days without pay after an almost three-hour, closed-door session Tuesday.
Gandy will begin her suspension Thursday. In her absence, City Clerk Taylor Adams will assume leadership duties for the sanitation department. Once Gandy's suspension ends, she will then be placed on a six-month probationary period, as ordered by the board.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman was tasked with evaluating her job performance every two months during the probation and delivering his findings to aldermen.
Officials gave no reasoning for the action, but another closed-door resolution indicates a prior disciplinary incident occurred with a sanitation department employee.
The board also voted in executive session to accept a grievance from William Bell and, as read aloud by Adams, "remove any and all evidence of discipline related" to an event from his employment file.
Aldermen did not disclose the nature of the past incident.
Bell joined Starkville's sanitation department in 2011 as a driver, city minutes show. A number of people believed to be sanitation employees sat in the City Hall lobby Tuesday during executive session, including a man believed to be Bell, who brought with him a road scenario drawn on a poster. When open session resumed, a Google Street View screenshot of a Starkville road was displayed on the courtroom's overhead projector.
Besides Gandy and the man believed to be Bell, two other individuals were called into the board room during closed-door talks.
Gandy was most recently at the center of board questions after garbage bag distributions were delayed. It is not known if that or if Bell's grievance played a role in Gandy's suspension and probation.
With the board's move Tuesday, Adams' role as city clerk and finance director has now expanded to leading the sanitation department and coordinating efforts between other departments, a job previously handled by former Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill. Adams has served as the city's de facto No. 2 after aldermen ousted Spruill in July and delegated some of her responsibilities to the mayor.
Numerous personnel issues have emerged since the board took over in July. Besides Spruill's exit, Personnel Director Randy Boyd was reappointed to his job with a 90-day review period. Three months later, former Municipal Clerk Debra Wood resigned her position after aldermen gave her the choice to quit or be fired. Starkville Police Chief David Lindley then abruptly turned in his letter of resignation in November after he was placed indefinitely on administrative leave with pay. Community Developer William Snowden also tendered his resignation earlier this month after aldermen granted him six weeks of leave for health-related issues in October.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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