HOWARD, LANGSTAFF SOUGHT MANAGER’S OUSTER;
NEW EFFORT UNDER WAY TO HASTEN THE TRANSITION
By Kevin Hogencamp
Amid a new effort to hasten Albany City Manager Alfred Lott’s ouster, The Albany Journal has learned that City Commission members Jon Howard and Bob Langstaff were the driving forces earlier this month behind an initiative to force Lott to resign or be fired.
Multiple sources close to the situation told the Journal under the condition of anonymity that Howard and Langstaff had support last month for Lott’s removal from commissioners Roger Marietta and Christopher Pike, but they relented to Mayor Willie Adams’ request to allow Lott to remain on the job until July 2011 – either for financial reasons or to enable Lott to advance his career without having the blemish of a termination or forced resignation.
Commissioner Tommie Postell, who unsuccessfully tried Tuesday to prevent the Dougherty district attorney’s office to investigate Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center’s use of federal funds in a failed housing venture, is a steadfast supporter of Lott, while Adams says privately that he wants Lott to stay on the job until his second mayoral term ends in January 2012. It is unclear where commissioner Dorothy Hubbard stands on the matter.
All of the City Commissioner members except Postell refuse to be interviewed by the Journal about Lott’s status as city manager.
Lott’s contract expires Sept. 19; rather than firing Lott and paying $69,000 in severance – half of his $138,000 annual salary – the City Commission is effectively refusing to extend Lott’s employment contract, as the Adams-led commission did in 2004 with former city manager Janice Allen Jackson. In a letter to the commission, Lott claimed that he is leaving his job because he desired to be close to his immediate family in the Northeast. Later, he falsely claimed that his resignation was voluntary.
Sources close to the situation have said since last month that Lott likely will leave post under duress no later than January 2011. Now, however, an executive session is being planned to move up Lott’s departure date, the Journal’s sources say.
Lott’s removal from the office he has held since September 2005 was originally discussed in a private City Commission meeting – a legally called executive session for which the public was removed from the room – on July 20. The next day, Lott announced his resignation amid new charges being leveled against him by former human resources director Mary LaMont, who had filed federal racism and sexism charges against Lott. LaMont, who worked 13 months after being identified as a viable candidate by a national headhunter that lured Lott to Albany, accused Lott of additional legal and policy violations on the day of his resignation.
Among her charges, LaMont says that Lott, who is black, refused to allow LaMont, who is white, to fire a subordinate because the subordinate is black and may file a discrimination suit. And LaMont claimed that Lott attempted to require LaMont to make false statements to the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission to create a “credible and believable” story in response to a discrimination complaint filed by a white employee that Lott required LaMont to fire. Also, LaMont said that Lott attempted to force her to lie to federal authorities during a discrimination investigation. Later, Lott was retaliatory, stripping LaMont of her authority, LaMont said.
Lott refused comment when asked by the Journal for an interview on the Lamont matter. But he has publicly said that LaMont is lying and is now discrediting LaMont by saying that she misspent funds on a vacation – allegations that LaMont denies and that were not in her personnel file at the time of her resignation.