No applications ignored, investigation concludes

According to a report by Charles Davis of Dispute Resolutions, LLC, the Search and Transition Committee did not ignore an application submitted for the position of Henderson City Manager.

Dennis Tharrington, a local builder, accused the council and the Search and Transition Committee of hiring irregularites during a May 24 meeting of Henderson City Council and the Embassy Square Executive Board. Specifically, Tharrington accused members of misleading a highly qualified candidate as to his eligibility for the position of city manager and subsequently ignoring his application so that Jerry Moss, the current city manager, could be installed in the position.

The full text of Attorney Davis’ report, including his billing summary, may be viewed here. The applicant’s name and pronouns referring to the applicant have been expurgated by the Henderson City Council to avoid identification of the individual on the recommendation of City Attorney John Zollicoffer.

Attorney Davis reported that he spoke to members of the city council, the Search and Transition Committee, the applicant in question, Tharrington, and several city employees. He also listened to the recording of Tharrington’s remarks on May 24 which may be reviewed here.

Attorney Davis’ investigation revealed that the applicant never filled in the part of the application marked “Position applied for”, assuming he would be notified when a position became available for which he was suited.

The applicant was not available for employment until August of 2006, contingent upon his retirement. The applicant also stated to Attorney Davis that he had not applied for the city manager position.

Council member Lynn Harper remarked that she was glad to see the report, and that she was anxious that it be entered into the record.

Bernard Alston, the only member of the council who is an attorney, remarked that the council needs to be careful. He advised members that the report addresses the issue of whether a particular application was ignored, and that it does nothing more than that.

Alston stated emphatically that the report does not indicate that the Search and Transition Committee did nothing wrong.

Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert echoed Alston’s concern, indicating that the conclusion of the report indicated that the Search and Transition Committee did not ignore any applications.

Council member Elissa Yount said that future remarks made regarding the conduct of the committee could be construed as slander.

“This is the beginning of setting the record straight,” she said.

Yount indicated that the council’s response to Tharrington’s accusation sends a strong message.

Alston remarked that when the council narrowly defined what Attorney Davis was to do, it is unfair expand his conclusion.

Council member Mary Emma Evans asked if the council was going to “jump up and spend $1,700 every time one of us is questioned?” She went on to say that she would like to see something saying that the council would not.

Seifert indicated that he believed the investigation to be a one-time event.

City Manager Jerry Moss stated that there were damaging remarks made about him at the May 24 meeting.

“The man [Tharrington] has stepped on my toes and I am blameless,” Moss said.

The council voted unanimously to receive the expurgated version of the report into the record.