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LaMont: City trying to buy secret recordings ‘I am not for sale!’

By   /   November 27, 2010  /   Comments

By Kevin Hogencamp

Mary LaMont says she thought about it for a moment, but that’s about all. Her ethics just wouldn’t let her walk away with $500,000 or more while leaving the ailing municipal government and Albany community in the dust.

LaMont, the former city human resources director who has audiotapes and other evidence documenting that the city is systematically discriminatory and retaliatory, is continuing with her federal complaint against the city with the intention of filing a lawsuit. She said this week that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission told her that city had agreed to mediation in exchange for her audiotaped evidence of illegal and unethical employment practices, including retaliatory discharges and racial and sexual discrimination, by Lott and other city officials.

“My audiotapes, not unlike the deeply engrained sense of ethics and integrity instilled in me in my youth, are not for sale – not at any price,” LaMont said. “If money was my sole motivation, I could have gone along with the City’s illegal demands, said what they wanted me to say, and kept my mouth shut about the City’s illegal practices just like most other City leaders choose to do.

“If I had not complained, I would still be the human resources director for the City of Albany and I would probably have received a sizeable increase in pay just as (Assistant City Manager) Wes Smith, (Assistant City Manager) James Taylor, (City Attorney) Nathan Davis, and (Assistant City Attorney) Jenise Smith have. Niger Thomas’ EEO manager position was being reevaluated for a pay rate increase which she too would probably have received had it not been for her sudden, unexpected, and unexplained departure from the City.”

LaMont has recorded meetings and conversations while working for the city. Among other indiscretions by city officials, the tapes – some of which have been reviewed by The Albany Journal — reveal:

  • City Manager Alfred Lott lied about LaMont’s discrimination complaints;
  • A 61-year-old administrator was falsely accused of falsifying her employment application; and
  • Assistant City Manager Wes Smith says that Assistant City Attorney Kathy Strang became a political casualty after confidentially reporting that her boss kept a loaded gun in his desk.

LaMont, who worked for the city for 13 months, says she began the recordings after it became clear to her that she was working for an organization that systematically disregards the law and city policy. On the tapes with LaMont are nearly every department director and a City Commission member.

The tapes reveal that in a May 11 meeting, Smith told LaMont that city commissioners pressured Lott to “get Strang out of there or he wouldn’t be city manager, anymore.” Smith says the mandate came after Strang confidentially reported that she found a loaded gun in City Attorney Nathan Davis’ desk at the Albany Law Enforcement Center. City officials claim Strang was fired for reasons unrelated to the gun incident – a crime for which Davis was never charged.

“The problem from Al is it’s a political maneuver,” Smith said in a taped May 11 conversation with LaMont. “Commission, the mayor, the commission (sic) apparently have pressured Al to move her. Basically, if he doesn’t get her out of there, he won’t be city manager anymore. He’ll be fired because he’ll be accountable to them.”

In the same conversation, Smith describes City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard as a “voice in the wind” and a “nobody” with no support among her colleagues.

Also, the audiotapes along with other documentation reveal that Lott and other city officials fabricated charges that human resource benefits administrator Martha Faye Everson falsified her employment application. Indeed, records show that Everson reported on her application that she had an accounting diploma from Albany Area Vocational School and, from the options given, she noted that “technical college” mostly closely resembled her post-high school graduate education.

Everson was fired 10 days after a co-worker, Beverly McCrimmon, complained that she should be making as much money as Everson. Public records show that city officials falsely contend that McCrimmon filed a complaint alleging that she was a victim of racial discrimination. Everson is white and McCrimmon is black.

Audiotapes provided to the Journal by LaMont also prove that Lott lied when he said publicly that LaMont had not voiced any concerns or complaints to him or anyone else at the City about the discrimination and retaliation she was suffering at the hands of Smith, Lott and others before she filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Lott has publicly stated that LaMont lied in her EEOC charges, which include a claim that Lott attempted to force LaMont to provide false information to the EEOC concerning another employee’s discrimination complaint. But unlike LaMont, Lott refuses to provide evidence supporting his claim and refuses to answer the public’s questions on the topic.

Lott refuses to provide information and perspective regarding LaMont’s situation. In response to the Journal’s request that LaMont to provide a detailed explanation of her recent discussion with the EEOC, she provided the following statement:

“I spoke with an EEOC mediator who advised me the City of Albany had agreed to mediation in exchange for my audio tapes. I did not understand why or how the City could agree to mediation when I had sent the EEOC two (2) forms to the EEOC stating I was not interested in participating in mediation with the City of Albany. After considering what the Mediator said about this being the quickest resolve to my complaint and how mediation would be in “my” best interest, I returned the Mediator’s call and stated I would be willing to participate in mediation provided the City of Albany come to the table with a minimum offer of $500,000.

The Mediator called me back and said mediation does not work like that. I responded that is exactly the way mediation works to which he replied mediation could not be entered into with any set demand. I explained it was not a set demand because I had no intention of settling for $500,000 in exchange for my audio tapes and that’s why I stated I would be willing to mediate if the City came to the table with a “minimum” offer of $500,000. The Mediator questioned what type of information was on the audio tapes and after I explained the contents of a couple, he stated he would tell the City what I said and see if they would agree.

The Mediator called back and said he could not in good conscious tell the City what I said because in order for mediation to be successful, both parties must come to the table in good faith, with an open mind, and a willingness to compromise. He further stated mediation could not be established with parameters already set. I responded I did not understand why it was permissible for the City to set out what they were willing to negotiate for (my audio tapes), but not permissible for me to set a parameter. He then stated he had misstated what the City said and clarified that the City had actually stated that in order for mediation to be meaningful, the City would need to review my audio tapes. I responded that is not what he originally stated to me, but it basically means the same thing.

The Mediator stated $500,000 was an unreasonable request without the City having previously reviewed the audio tapes and I responded I viewed the City’s demand for my audio tapes prior to any agreement to mediate to be just as unreasonable which is why I responded the way I did. I explained I have no intention of turning my audio tapes over to the City. I informed the Mediator that I had participated in a City EEOC mediation preparation meeting so I know from experience the City does not act in good faith and does not come to the table with an open mind or a willingness to compromise. City leadership’s sole motivation for participating in EEOC mediation is to gain unrestricted access to the Claimant’s evidence to assess how damning the evidence is and to aid the City in building a bogus defense. I explained the Mediator’s attempts to convince me that mediation was in my best interest or that both parties would come to the table in good faith, with an open mind, and a willing to compromise were in vain. I was not interested in mediation and I would prefer he forward my complaint to the Enforcement division of the EEOC.

I explained the bottom line is that I provided the EEOC with two (2) response forms on two (2) separate occasions when I signed my EEOC Charge Forms stating I was not interested in participating in mediation with the City of Albany. The resolve I am seeking is for the EEOC to do their job and investigate my complaints in an effort to help put an end to the rampant discriminatory practices plaguing the local government of the City of Albany. I explained my understanding of the EEOC mediation process is that it is a voluntary option that both parties must agree to. I thought I had been clear each time I responded to the question of mediation both orally and in writing that I was not interested in participating in mediation because I do not believe a mediation settlement will do anything to resolve the core issue of my complaints which is the widespread discriminatory practices being permitted and promoted by City leadership.

How can anyone not question why all of the people who participated in the illegal conduct I reported to the EEOC received unjustified pay increases shortly after my departure? The City claims they did not implement the pay raises justified by Phase II of the City’s Pay Study because of budgetary limits, but I find it more than a little concerning that there is always money available to fund unjustified pay rate increases for the highest paid City leaders.

Could someone please explain this:

Both Wes Smith and James Taylor received pay rate increases in January of this year and again in July of this year.

Nathan Davis who was suspended for a serious safety violation in April of this year and who was the subject of a report filled with a litany of poor performance issues in May of this year received a 4 1/2 % increase.

Jenise Smith who still does not meet the minimum qualifications outlined in the City’s Assistant City Attorney job description also received a sizable pay rate increase.

The revelation of audiotapes implicating Lott’s, Smith’s and others’ chicanery at city hall came this fall amid a new effort to hasten Lott’s ouster. Multiple sources close to the situation told the Journal under the condition of anonymity that commissioners Jon Howard and Bob Langstaff had support when they pushed for Lott’s firing or immediate resignation, but that other commissioners relented to Mayor Willie Adams’ request to allow Lott to remain on the job until July 2011. The later departure date enables Lott time to find a job and to otherwise move on without having the blemish of a termination or forced resignation.

Adams says he wants Lott to stay on the job. Commissioner Tommie Postell, who unsuccessfully tried last 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. All of the City Commission members except Postell refuse to be interviewed by the Journal about Lott’s status as city manager.

Lott’s contract expired 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. Lott falsely claims that he is leaving his job because he desires to be close to his immediate family in the Northeast.

Sources close to the situation say that Lott likely will leave post under duress no later than January 2011. An executive session, a private-but-legally held meeting by public officials, was called Tuesday to discuss a personnel matter Tuesday, but city commissioners refused to discuss the meeting.

Lott’s removal from the office he has held since September 2005 was originally discussed in a private City Commission meeting on July 20. The next day, Lott announced his resignation amid new charges being leveled against him by LaMont, who was on the job for 13 months. In addition to her discrimination complaints, LaMont 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 while attending a professional conference – allegations that LaMont denies and that are not in her personnel file at the time of her resignation.

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  • Published: 1334 days ago on November 27, 2010
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  • Last Modified: November 24, 2010 @ 6:23 am
  • Filed Under: Government
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Comments

  1. Concerned says:

    Lesson for Leadership:
    Integrity and ethics are not things that can be bought.
    Integrity and ethics are the things that give you the strength to “just say no!”
    Integrity and ethics are not things you can fake, either they are a part of who you are or they are foreign to you. There is no gray area.
    Integrity and ethics are crystal clear – they are readily apparent in a person’s actions or they are glaringly absent in a person’s actions.
    People rarely remember what you said, they never forget how you treated them.
    Remember this when it’s time to vote again. Vote what you know, not what you hear. Vote your choice, not your neighbor’s. Vote on the issues, not on the race.

  2. Miguel says:

    Christmas is just around the corner. What a present this could be for the City of Albany. It would be nice to flush the toilet that the city leadership has become. All I can say is, “Ms, LaMont, please stick to your principles and just maybe your example can spread through leadership like a brush fire.” This city cannot move forward with this junk leadership. There is too much wrong in Albany for the leadership to be in a constant state of corruption, butt-covering, and legal matters. If the leadership hasn’t noticed, the city is moving backwards and getting more and more dangerous. How about when the citizens of Albany start noticing positive change in the city, then the city leadership can see about “pay raises”. Stick to it Ms. LaMont.

  3. BillS says:

    Good for Ms. LaMont for sticking to good morals, something the city officials do not have. Good for the Journal for reporting to truth, no matter how ugly it may be. Everything on those tapes should be reported to the public.

  4. Truth B Known says:

    I have to say i was so Proud of Not only the Albany Journals front page,but Ms.Lamonts story.Albany just dont get it do they?You are not for sale.They want them tapes so bad,and it tickels me to awwwwwwwww that you are not giving in.Thank you.The Journal and You have showed Albany that it is not about money.Its about Truth and Justice.Ms..LaMont,you are my hero.Albany Officals think it is all about money,and it s not there money to be dealing with.They should all just give up and face what they have brought on Albany.Not just with your case,but so many others that have not been told,,or have not been beleaved.All of us in Albany know how they have done.But it has took you,Ms.LaMont and the Truth Paper in Albany the Journal to show people that you cant be bought.God Bless You Both.We have news people,and a nother paper,,who do not even discuss what is going on.Why?They only do stories on what has been done to Officals.To heck with them,they made there bed,let them lay in it.And i am sure some do.What i dont get is why will no one come in and fire all of them?I know they know what is going on,i have wrote so many letters to congressmen and women,and even the Pres.So how far up the ladder does the cover up go?Ms.LaMont i pray for you and the Journal each night.I know one way or another my prayers will be answered.And i bet each one of our so called Officals are wearing baggie pants right now,,full of crap.They know you have them.And i myself love it.I love seeing worms trying to crawl in a hole.It did shock me to know after Nathans gun toting,that he got a raise,Al also..At the tax payers expense.And for all the ones working under these crooks,i dont know how you can sleep at night knowing the things you do.I am not here to judge you.Thats only Gods doings.But to know that there are other people who are covering things up is shamefull.I know in these hard times you need a job,but at what cost?Do you not understand that you are being bought off?
    And for all the other news outlets in this town,this is not ment as slander,just the truth.Why dont you all tell about these things?Are you scared of the good ole boy system?.Do you know how many lives have been destroyed becuase of that system?And then what really gets me,is that these crooks want to know why people dont trust them.I have had my share of dealings with just about all of them.And you can not depend on them to protect you in anyway.They are out for them selfs,no one else.And if think they are boy have they got you fooled.
    Then here you come Ms.LaMont,and The Journal.Thank God someone tells the truth in this town.And is not scared of the crooksAnd there way of dealing with things is trying to buy someone off.How many people do you think have been bought off? Money.i have gotten where i hate money.When money can be given instead of the truth,it s evil.And it s the tax payers who are being hurt here,the so called Officals dont care.Why do you think they raised taxes,and then ask for more in 1%other taxes.When is the money trail going to end?What is it going to take to get someone with some common sense to come in and investagate all of them? I use to think one or two of them might just care,and roll over on the others.But i guess that went out with the fly on the wall in the behind close door meetings.I was always tought it is not nice to hate anyone.But i can say this now,and not feel bad about it.I hate what everyone of you have done to Albany.And there are a couple of you i can honestly say i hate.I think the deaht of my Mother,and the cover ups there started that.To this day,i still do not know why my Mother died.But then i read what they have done to ms.LaMont,and that just renforces my hate.I ask God each night to forgive me for feeling this way.And i use to feel guilty about hating.But to know that these Officals have not only destroyed my life,but every person who lives in Albany.And everyone who has moved because of our great Officals.Our Officlas would have all of us to think the crime,and gangs have brought this town down.It s not.Its poor leadership.If we had the right people in there,i really think that there would not be as much crime and gangs,and job losses.When they there selfs,Officlas can break the law,and get away with it,that really shows Albany that they dont really care.Albany will come back to what we all want,but it s going to take all of us to fight them dirty twits that are in Office right now.And i myself cant wait till all the tapes come out about there dirty deeds.Its like waiting for the end of a movie that keeps having part 1,part 2 and so on.
    I have my own fight with them yes.But that is not where my heart lays heavy.It lays heavy knowing that everyone in Albany has been taken advantage of in some way or another,and will keep on till we get new Leaders.God Bless you Ms.LaMont,and Albany Journal.And God Bless Albany Georgia.

    1. Anti-Agony says:

      This does my heart so good that I can’t even begin to express my thoughts and feelings, so I won’t say anything except GOOD FOR YOU, MARY LAMONT, and GOOD FOR YOU, ALBANY JOURNAL. May justice prevail in the EEOC cases of both Ms. LaMont and Mr. Reddish.

About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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