News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2005


Take name, kick butt not always best answer

Some of the swagger left a certain Morgan County Commission member's rhetoric this week after hearing Maintenance Director Dwight Gardner state his case.

Commissioner Stacy George's knee-jerk reaction to budget problems was to fire Mr. Gardner, whose failure to list supplies in his proposed budget apparently riled the commissioner as an unrealistic way to trim expenses.

In a second stab at complying, Mr. Gardner suggested trimming staff rather than cutting out all on-call pay, which he was eligible to receive along with his crew.

Mr. George's solution was to fire the director whose pay and benefits are nearly $70,000 a year, which is good politics even if it might be good business, too.

Mr. Gardner had his say before commissioners Wednesday and told them he was doing the best he could, that he and his staff save the county money, and if that's not good enough, commissioners could just go ahead and fire him.

"There are other jobs," he said.

The ex-Marine and Athens State University graduate didn't grovel, whimper, accuse or make excuses, which was refreshing for a public employee who may be about to get canned.

Commission members responded with silence. The blustering was gone.

Perhaps commissioners are now actually weighing whether Mr. Gardner, who supervises 16 maintenance and janitorial employees, is indeed an asset to the courthouse and saves the county money as he said, or if he's overpaid and expendable.

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