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Squire, WEMA director square off
Oct 28, 2004 12:00 am
Emergency Management Agency Committee Chair Bob Lannom pointedly questioned WEMA Director Jerry McFarland about his management of the agency during a Tuesday night meeting.
"I've got too much on me not to share it with you," Lannom said to begin the meeting.
He said a number of WEMA personnel have come to him with various complaints about McFarland and WEMA and indicated the employees believe they will be fired if McFarland learns of the complaints. But Lannon declined to elaborate on the specific complaints, explaining he wanted to keep the WEMA employees' names and issues confidential.
"Why do people keep coming to me and to this committee as a whole saying that you 'have let us down,' that 'we've been told if we're caught talking to you you're going to fire us?'" Lannom asked McFarland.
McFarland responded by saying he is available around the clock to discuss matters with personnel.
"Anybody that works for me … can come see me," McFarland said. "I think everybody down there has my cell phone number, and they call me day and night."
McFarland claimed Lannom's questions stemmed from his dislike of the WEMA director. Lannom disagreed.
"That's not true, I don't know you," Lannom said. "All I know is you're the director of WEMA ,and I'm the chairman of this committee, and that's the only basis that I know you."
Lannom contended he just wanted to get to the truth of the matter.
"I'm just trying to come to some conclusion of why these people keep running to me with information," Lannom said. "What do they expect me to do with it? What do they want me to do with it?"
McFarland said employees should be sent to him to resolve the issues.
"What you need to tell those people is to come see me, then if they don't get results to come back and see you," McFarland said.
Lannom said some employees spoke about the problems they were having to Wilson County Mayor Robert Dedman, who handles department head appointments.
Lannon told the EMA committee that Dedman told the employees, "If they didn't like to work for Wilson County, they can go work somewhere else."
Lannom said he fears the county may lose employees over the unresolved issues.
"Low moral means low productivity," Lannom said. "Low productivity means you're not getting you're money's worth and you've got people looking for jobs somewhere else. So it comes down to money."
McFarland said moral and productivity among the agency is not low, and the only problematic issues are the fact that WEMA lacks financial resources as well as staff.
"WEMA is not a club … WEMA is an agency of county government," McFarland said, stressing the organization is not a democracy. "But nobody's going to be abused by coming to talk to me."
Lannom said he would accept McFarland's recommendation to refer the employees to him, but expressed reservation over their job security if they were to do so.
Staff Writer Stacie A. Moore can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.