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BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 1
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - Pike County Times has walked through the hiring of many county managers over the years. Some employments have gone smoothly, and some have not. Pike County has a reputation as a bit of a revolving door of late with the exception of John Hanson staying for six years with Bobby Bickley staying six months before resigning and Ron Alexander resigning after only five months on the job. There was no exposé after Bobby Bickley left; it just wasn’t a good fit for him as county manager. But there were rumors of problems while Ron Alexander was here as county manager.

An extensive search of the internet had not brought up anything of consequence prior to the time of Ron’s hire so no open records requests were filed at that time. However, Pike County Times had heard about problems during his tenure and took a look back over his employment application after his resignation to discover something that was missed in the initial review of his application. The reason for leaving Henry County was “Let go.”

With that in mind, Pike County Times endeavored to learn a lesson (if there was one to be learned here) and made open records requests to the Henry County Board of Commissioners and Garden City, which was the employment that Ron Alexander left in order to come to Pike County and serve as our county manager. What has been learned is pretty astounding, and for as long as Pike County Times is continuing to be a watchdog in this county, this mistake won’t happen again. A review of redacted personnel files will be a must from here on out when it comes to the position of county manager.

Henry County provided 55 pages of documentation related to the following request: “Pursuant to the Open Records Act, I request a copy of the following with a response by email: 1) a copy of any and all letters and other information regarding the termination and/or resignation of Ron E. Alexander, and 2) a copy of any litigation and/or settlement that involved Ron E. Alexander. Ron Alexander was the Chief Commercial Inspector/Plan Reviewer for the Henry County Board of Commissioners from May 1996 through May of 2008.

The request did cost money because it was stored away in a box due to the age of the request, but the information cast some light on current events and was well worth the more than $30 paid for it. This is Part 1 of a three-part series. Please note that there was no personnel information from the Henry County request so the events of Ron’s termination and the events that led up to it are all that is here to read. Part 2, Garden City, will have both the good as well as items that needed improvement during his tenure. Several items of interest are revealed in both of these employment histories.

Henry County

On August 25, 2008, Ron Alexander was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation. On August 28, 2008, Ron Alexander was terminated from Henry County for refusal to take a polygraph as scheduled on August 26, 2008, conduct unbecoming an employee of the County on or off duty by your failure to follow proper supervisory procedures in reporting a potential issue/concern, failure to cooperate during the course of the County investigation, and his history of similar disruptive behavior within the Building Department. Ron was employed by Henry County from May 6, 1996 through August 28, 2008. He did appeal his termination but was not hired back by Henry County. His final position with Henry County was as Chief Commercial Building Inspector for the Henry County Building Department.

Quick Overview

The following documents are in date order for the most part though some of the documentation addresses many events from prior time periods. Pike County Times has left these events in date order with the exception of the anonymous letter to the Henry County Commission because it is not known when that complaint was sent because it is undated.

On January 17, 2008, it was determined that Ron Alexander had a verbal confrontation with a business owner and general contractor on the job that resulted in one day of suspension without pay. This is included because it is mentioned in the termination letter as well as the county manager’s decision on the appeal of termination. Further information is also included in the February 2009 Executive Session.

On August 14, 2008 at 7:30 a.m. an anonymous phone call was made alleging that possible un-permitted construction was taking place at the residence of a female employee in the same department as Ron Alexander. A voice message left on the direct phone line of the Chief Residential Building Inspector. The allegation was investigated and the Code Enforcement Officer was called off when a paper permit was produced that was going into the system for the work that was being done. An investigation was then made into the phone call including pulling video footage of the vehicle transporting the person who could have made the call from a local payphone.

On August 14, 2008, this same female co-worker made a complaint to the Director about “unprofessional and derogatory remarks” allegedly made by Ron and a Chief Building Inspector that were brought to her by a local builder.

August 15, 2008, Ron Alexander denied that the incidence occurred and filed a written grievance against her requesting that the source of the accusation and that the allegation be investigated.

On August 18, 2008, Building and Development Services Director Luebbering met with the developer and asked for the name, phone number, etc. of those who had heard the remarks from the female co-worker’s complaint as soon as possible.

On August 25, 2008, Ron Alexander was suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. He was questioned and denied making the call.

On August 26, 2008, a polygraph was scheduled regarding this phone call and Ron Alexander was advised that if he refused the polygraph, he would be terminated from employment at Henry County.

On August 28, a letter of termination was issued for Ron Alexander based on his refusal to take the polygraph.

Also on August 28, Director Luebbering placed a memo in Ron Alexander’s file noting that he had met with the developer and asked for information regarding the complaint so he could speak to those who heard the comments first hand. Follow up was also initiated, but no information was ever provided.

On September 25, 2008, there was a meeting was held between Director Luebbering and Ron Alexander in which Ron alleged that this female co-worker and two others were responsible for “inspection irregularities” at several job sites. He advised that he needed to review each project’s routing sheets, computer printouts and project files in order to show these irregularities and discrepancies.

On September 30, 2008, Ron Alexander was given eight hours of supervised access to the records that he requested over the course of two days. Records were copied for Ron at the end of that time. A review of the project files was made and Doug Gilbert said that he concluded that this was the result of poor record keeping for the most part. However, there was a specific instance where one inspector made a business license inspection and did not sign off on it. Instead, he gave it to the female co-worker to sign off on even though she didn’t sign the inspection. This was addressed with both workers with both being told that this behavior would not be tolerated and that further disciplinary actions would be taken if the behavior persisted. This is further addressed in the Executive Session from February 2009 after Ron Alexander filed a Petition for Appeal hearing to the Henry County Board of Commissioners after the county manager upheld his termination.

On October 1, 2008, there is an open records document that is signed by Ron Alexander acknowledging that he will pay for documents and pay additional charges if those arose.

At some point during this time, an anonymous letter was sent to the Henry County Board of Commissioners about this particular female coworker alleging that she was being “used as what appears to be an Assistant Division Director,” that there were paperwork issues with a number of her jobs, and that she had signed off on an inspection when she didn’t actually do the inspection herself. The letter advises that several meetings were held with the Division Director to address the problem but that “the situation seems to be getting worse.”

On November 11, 2008, an appeal hearing was held in which Ron admitted that he made the phone call. His reasons for doing so are discussed in depth in his letter of appeal dated January 14, 2009. The meeting resulted in a written decision from the county manager regarding Ron’s August 28, 2008 termination based on the refusal to take the polygraph, engaging in offensive conduct or conduct unbecoming of a county employee, and failure to cooperate in an investigation. This hearing contained a review of the entire appellate record including Ron’s personnel file and the Henry County Personnel Manual.

On January 6, 2009, the county manager issued his decision upholding the termination of Ron Alexander based on his lack of truthfulness and intentional lack of cooperation in the investigation as well as his refusal to take the polygraph.

On January 14, 2009, Ron Alexander sent a letter of appeal to the Henry County Board of Commissioners regarding his termination. He described himself as a “dedicated employee of Henry County for the past 14 years” and gave reasons for his prior actions.

Sometime in February of 2009, an Executive Session was conducted regarding the allegations that Ron Alexander made in his January 14, 2009 Petition for Appeal of his termination.

No further response was found in the 55 pages of open records documents that were provided to Pike County Times.

Henry County Violation Report – January 17, 2008

The Henry County Violation Report dated January 17, 2008 advises that Ron Alexander was suspended without pay for one day on January 18, 2008 for engaging in “verbally confrontational language with a business owner and general contractor” on January 9, 2008. The Division Director, Jim Luebbering, said that his investigation led to the conclusion that “Ron acted in an inappropriate and dismissive manner while conducting County business” and that it was his second documented offense of violation of General Conduct.

Ron was instructed that any future, similar incidents will not be tolerated and could result in discipline “up to and including termination.” Ron was encouraged to discuss issues of concern with county applicants, clients, and employees in a productive manner. “Fostering this business relationship is critical for the smooth operation of the department and Ron’s personal productivity as the County’s Chief Commercial Inspector.”

Letter of Termination – August 28, 2008

According to the August 28, 2008 termination letter, there was an anonymous phone call received at approximately 7:30 a.m. on August 14, 2008 “alleging that possible un-permitted construction activities were taking place” at the resident address of a female employee in the Building Department. This phone call was placed to and a voice message left on the direct phone line of the Chief Residential Building Inspector.

According to the termination letter, there were concerns about the origin of the call because of a suspicion that Ron Alexander made the phone call. An investigation began. It was determined that Ron made the “anonymous phone call” on August 14, 2008 and that “such phone call was made for the purpose of disrupting the workplace and discrediting a fellow employee.”

During the course of the County’s investigation, Ron Alexander was asked about and denied “any knowledge about the source or subject of the call.” He also refused to answer direct questions about the matter. Ron was placed on Administrative leave with pay on August 25, 2008 pending the outcome of the investigation.

On August 26, 2008, Ron had been instructed by the Deputy County Manager that a polygraph examination had been scheduled for him regarding this situation “because of your initial denial of being involved and subsequent refusing to answer direct questions regarding the ‘anonymous call’.” According to the letter of termination, a meeting was held in which Ron was read the Notice of Polygraph Examination section from the Personnel Policy Manual and he verbally acknowledged that he understood that his refusal was grounds for dismissal. He also signed a form that he understood.

A memorandum regarding notice to the employee regarding the polygraph examination advised that the scheduled August 26, 2008 polygraph would be “inquiring into an anonymous phone call made to the County Building Department” and would relate “specifically and narrowly to this situation,” “neither the results of the polygraph examination nor your answers to any questions asked can be used against you in any subsequent criminal prosecution,” and “the penalty for refusal to appear for the polygraph examination is dismissal.” It was signed by Ron on August 26, 2008.

The Human Resources Director at that time sent a letter to Ron advising that his employment was terminated as of 9 a.m. on August 28, 2008 based on a 7:42 a.m. phone call that informed her that Ron would not be in attendance at the meeting to take the required polygraph examination.

Grievance of Harassment – August 28, 2008

An August 28, 2008 memo is contained in the file in reference to a Grievance of Harassment that was filed by Ron Alexander against this same female employee from the Building Department mentioned in the anonymous phone call. According to the memo, this fellow female employee accused Ron and the Chief Residential Inspector of making “unprofessional, derogatory remarks” about her to a local builder. Ron requested that the county produce the source of the accusation and that this allegation be investigated. He denied that the incident occurred. The memo written and included in the file by Building and Development Services Director Jim Luebbering advises that on August 14, 2008 this female employee “informed me that [name redacted by Pike County Times], a local developer, told her that a Legacy Builder informed him of the incident.” Director Luebbering met with this developer on August 18, 2008 and asked him to put him in contact with the person who said this including his name, phone number, etc. as soon as possible. The director noted in the memo that he had received no further information on this incident despite the fact that he asked for it on two separate occasions. “My recommendation is to drop the investigation, for lack of evidence, and add this note to our files.”

Undated, Anonymous Complaint to the Henry County Board of Commissioners

This undated and unsigned complaint concerns the same female employee who has been mentioned throughout this article. It alleges that there is a “situation centered in the Building Department” that is causing “grave concerns” for this department staff as well as other departments that work with this department on a day to day basis. The complaint is that [name of female coworker redacted by Pike County Times], one of the Commercial Inspectors, is being “used as what appears to be an Assistant Division Director.” The reasons for this concern were spelled out as follows.

The letter says that she has been “involved in or responsible for practices that do not meet the expectations of the public service we strive to provide” including the maintenance of accurate records on building construction, that a number of her jobs have “paperwork issues,” and that she has signed off on paperwork when she did not do the inspection. It also alleges that she passed inspections with the same violations of code as other projects that she has been counseled about. The letter says that disciplinary actions would normally be handled at the Division Directors level, but after several meetings with the Division Director about these concerns, “the situation seems to be getting worse.”

The letter then describes a specific situation and alleges that she “is apparently attending meetings concerning things that are far beyond what a commercial inspector’s job details.” It went on to say that she is “basically unsupervised because no one knows where she is or what she is doing most of the time” and that this female coworker is the only Building Department employee who is not following chain of command.

The letter ended with an apology for remaining anonymous because these are “hard times” and “no one wants to stand out in a light such as this letter may bring” but said that a number of employees would probably speak up if they were questioned by commissioners. They were encouraged to look at her personnel file and Building Department files.

Open Records – October 1, 2008

There is an open records document that is signed by Ron Alexander acknowledging that he will pay $0.25 per page for documents though there could be additional charges depending on what he asked for. And there is a list of 5 pages of handwritten notes for what was requested. This is discussed in detail in #7 statement in Jim Luebbering Executive Session - February 2009 below.

Appeal Hearing – November 11, 2008

An appeal hearing that was held on November 11, 2008, and the county manager made a written decision on Ron’s August 28, 2008 termination based on the refusal to take the polygraph, engaging in offensive conduct or conduct unbecoming of a county employee, and failure to cooperate in an investigation. This hearing contained a review of the entire appellate record including Ron’s personnel file and the Henry County Personnel Manual.

Notice of Decision from the County Manager – January 6, 2009

This three-page letter was signed by County Manager Rob Magnaghi and affirmed the decision to terminate Ron’s employment with Henry County. CM Magnaghi advised that the evidence from the appeal hearing and a review of Ron’s entire appellate record including his personnel file and the Henry County Personnel Manual were considered in this decision. The reasons for firing were refusing to take a polygraph, engaging in offensive conduct or conduct unbecoming of a county employee, and failure to cooperate in an investigation.

Relevant facts included that an anonymous phone call was placed to the Chief Residential Inspector Butch Friel at approximately 7:30 a.m. on August 14, 2008. The voicemail stated that there was possibly construction work that was unpermitted at a property belonging to the female Commercial Inspector who was, at that time, under Ron’s direct supervision. The Chief Residential Inspector checked for building permits. When he did not see one, he spoke with his supervisor, former Building Department Director Doug Gilbert who advised Friel to initiate an investigation “in accordance with established departmental practices.” Chief Residential Inspector Friel then requested that a Code Enforcement Officer accompany him to the location to investigate this matter. Approximately 30 minutes later, Director Gilbert showed Chief Residential Inspector Friel a physical copy of the permit that had been issued for that day but had not been processed at the time of the original inquiry. The request for Code Enforcement was then canceled.

However, a few days later, Division Director Jim Luebbering began an investigation into the source of this anonymous phone call. He believed that Ron was the source of the phone call after listening to the message. The investigation led to the call being placed from a local gas station with an August 14th gas station surveillance tape that showed a vehicle identical to Ron’s personal vehicle entering the gas station in the direction of the phone booth at approximately 7:29 a.m.

According to this letter, Ron was asked to attend a meeting in which Director Luebbering testified that Ron was asked several times about his involvement in placing this anonymous call and the anonymous call was even played for him. “In response, you denied having any knowledge or information concerning this call. You were also presented with information about the contents of the surveillance video; however, rather than address the specific issue of your role in placing this anonymous call, you became evasive and refused to answer the questions posed to you. Because of your lack of cooperation, you were placed on administrative leave with pay pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

The Relevant Facts section ended by noting that Ron was advised that he was required to undergo a polygraph examination concerning the anonymous phone call. He was given notice as was required by Henry County policy and notified that the penalty for refusal was termination. He refused to take the polygraph and was terminated on August 28, 2008.

The findings section included the truth about the phone call. Ron admitted during the appeal hearing that he did make the phone call. Prior to this time, it was noted that he “steadfastly denied having any knowledge of or involvement in the placement of the call.” It was noted during the hearing that Ron apologized for how he behaved during the investigation and said that his actions were due to the fact that he was not feeling well and that he was not ‘thinking properly’ when he made these denials.

It was noted that Ron gave a number of reasons for why he felt like he needed to place this anonymous call. He noted that the biggest reason was that he had gone to Director Gilbert on “numerous prior occasions concerning alleged improprieties in the Building Department” and no action was taken in response to his allegations. Ron also testified that he felt it was “more prudent” to make an anonymous call than take the matter directly to appropriate officials in the Building Department because of his perception of this female employee’s role in the Department and his supervision of her.

The county manager stated that after considering Ron’s testimony, he was “willing to give due deference to your stated reasons for placing the anonymous call” because government officials often receive information from citizens who wish to remain anonymous and that testimony revealed that it was not uncommon for the Building Department to receive anonymous complaints about alleged building code violations. “In this instance, because you were [female coworker’s name redacted by Pike County Times] supervisor, I find that your desire to remain anonymous at the time you placed the call, while not ideal, was not altogether unreasonable or sinister.” However, the county manager had to determine whether Ron’s actions in denying any involvement in the matter were enough to warrant his termination. “I find the lack of truthfulness exhibited by you during the investigation constituted sufficient grounds for your termination. As a fourteen (14) year employee with this County holding a present day leadership position, you were expected to be cooperative in this investigation. Your complete lack of candor and outright denials of a matter for which you have now admitted to having committed, falls far below the standard of conduct expected of a person with your tenure and experience.” He then went on to say that if Ron had been honest and explained the reasons for his actions—as he did at the appeal hearing—these factors could have been considered whether to discipline and to what extent the discipline should have been administered. He said that Ron’s “intentional lack of cooperation in the investigation deprived management of the ability to make any determination in this regard.”

He closed out his letter by saying that the directive for submission for a polygraph was the result of Ron’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation because honesty about this matter would have precluded the need for a polygraph to begin with. He then affirmed the decision to terminate Ron’s employment based on his failure to submit to the polygraph examination because that refusal was further evidence of his failure to cooperate with this investigation, and the refusal was a valid ground for termination according to the personnel manual.

In Ron’s defense however, a notation was placed at the bottom of this letter that advised that the initial termination decision was based upon a “history of similar disruptive behavior within the Building Department.” The county manager advised that “no such pattern was established at the hearing.” He said that while the most recent suspension in January of 2008 for conduct unbecoming could be considered in the decision for termination, the county manager found that it was “not appropriate” to rely on two of the prior instances referenced in his termination letter including the May 2002 incident (failure to report an argument between two employees) because it was “too stale in time” and that the November 2007 incident (performing outside work inside Henry County) should not have been considered because Ron’s personnel file shows that he sought and received permission in writing to do this work.

Petition for Appeal Hearing – January 14, 2009

Ron Alexander sent a letter to the Henry County Clerk of the Commissioners requesting an appeal to the termination of his employment on January 14, 2009. In this four-page document, he described himself as a “dedicated employee of Henry County for the past 14 years” and gave reasons for his prior actions.

First, he said that he never refused to take the polygraph test. He said that he requested to consult with an attorney. He gave his reasons for being reluctant to take the polygraph including his reasoning that the information given to him did not fall under his official duties because it was for a fellow employee who might have been doing work on her private residence without permits or zoning approval. He also advised that he had been told that this female employee was under his supervision, but that he was not allowed to discipline her “in any manner.” [Note from the Editor: I do not know why this employee was under his supervision but he was not allowed to discipline her “in any manner.” It was not specified in any of the documents obtained by Pike County Times.] He also advised that the County Manager acknowledged in his decision that that the call shouldn’t have been a problem for the county and asked why this was being investigated in the first place. “I feel it was another round of unfair treatment I had been experiencing for the past year.”

He then stated that he was on medication at the time of the demand for polygraph, that he had been sick all weekend, and that he had not slept in three days. He said that there was a recorded conversation where he had asked to be placed on sick status until he felt better. He also said that people called in anonymous complaints all of the time and that he had never seen a police investigation in to the origin of the call which seemed like a waste of taxpayer dollars to him. He also pointed out that the County Manager acknowledged that “anonymous calls are common and not unreasonable or sinister.”

Second, he wrote about failure to cooperate with an investigation with three bullet points. First, he said that he had no idea that an investigation was going on and that he didn’t know of any investigation similar to this during his 14 years of employment there. Second, he said that he wasn’t sure that his was the only call and that he called to say that there was possible work going on without permits or inspections—even though this fellow employee was under his supervision—because it was residential and not commercial and that he didn’t have proof. And third, he said that it was stated at the hearing and in the County Manger’s letter that the call was played for him and that he still denied making the call. He said that the first time he remembered management playing that recording for him was at a meeting several months later.

He then said that he was suspended for something that he didn’t do earlier in the year and that he wasn’t allowed to “properly defend” himself. He advised that he was prepared to show evidence that the complaint was brought against him in an attempt to remove him from the project and that he had new facts that would discredit the witnesses who spoke against him as well as the revelation of falsified documents and batched inspections. He felt that after the Board reviewed the information that he had prepared, “it will see that I have done nothing wrong or anything other than my job.” He advised that he had filed a grievance against an employee that said degrading things about him in the field and that he had proof of “bias treatment.” He also said that the matter required a “full investigation” that would support his claims of unfair treatment as well as exposing “serious misconduct” by county employees.

Ron then said that the County Manager’s letter implied that he would have been disciplined even if he had admitted that he made the call and said that supports his claim of unfair treatment as well making an accusation of a hostile work environment. He also advised that he was denied access to public documents and that he requested a hearing as soon as possible with several Georgia state officials and a few news media to be present at the hearing.

Jim Luebbering Executive Session - February 2009

This document goes through eight specific allegations from Ron’s termination and petition for an Appeal Hearing to the Board of Commissioners. Attachments were included as evidence.

The first is Ron’s statement, “I never refused to take the polygraph.” This was determined to be false because Ron was informed “several times” refusing the polygraph would be grounds for termination, and he even signed an affidavit saying this. He said that they tried to convince him to take the polygraph, but Ron stated that he would “speak to his attorney and abruptly walked away.”

The second is Ron’s statement, “At the hearing, Jim Luebbering denied any knowledge that I was sick or on medication.” It was determined that when Ron was called, he agreed to speak to the county manager. Luebbering said that it was mentioned that Ron said he was ill but he did not recall denying that Ron said that he was ill, on medication, or that he had missed a lot of sleep.

The third is Ron’s statement, “The first time I remember management playing the call for me was at the hearing, several months later and I admitted I had made the call.” This was determined to be false because the county manager asked Ron if he had any information about this anonymous call in the August 25, 2008 meeting, and the call was played for him at that time. The county manager advised at that time that it was believed that Ron made the call, and Ron denied it even when the county manager advised that they knew exactly where the call was made from. The memo from this session advises that Ron continued to be evasive and said that he would not speak further until he could talk to an attorney. This resulted in Ron being placed on administrative leave with pay pending the final outcome of this investigation.

The fourth is Ron’s statement, “I was told by Rob Magnaghi that if it was determined that I made the phone call, that I could either resign or I would be terminated.” Luebbering denied this statement.

The fifth is Ron’s statement, “Earlier this year, I had already been suspended for something that I did not do and was not allowed to properly defend myself. This situation also needs to be addressed by the Board to expose the real reason behind those events.” It was noted that meetings included Ron Alexander on both December 19, 2007 and January 3, 2008 to follow up on an inspection of Tara Aircraft Hangers. The inspectors were advised that there would be discussion and review of the written inspection in house before giving out any information to property owners, etc. because there was more than one jurisdiction on this site. It was said that Ron ignored these instructions and proceeded to get into an argument during the inspection that was witnessed by five individuals. This resulted in a one-day suspension without pay for “engaging in verbally confrontational language with a business owner and a general contractor” after the investigation found that Ron acted in an “inappropriate and dismissive manner while conducting County business.” It was noted that all but one of the witnesses agreed that Ron was “unprofessional, confrontational and upset.” It was noted that Ron’s response was typed up in front of two other employees with a confirmation from one of the employees that the summation of Ron’s words was correct. It was noted that Ron demanded that he speak to another witness who would support his version of events. This person’s full account was included in the investigation, and Ron was given a copy of the investigation on the day that he was suspended.

The sixth statement is, “[Female coworker’s name redacted by Pike County Times] has said degrading things about me in the field (note one of the reports of this came from my division director, Jim Luebbering). I filed a grievance on these matters and never got back any king [sic] of response back at all.” This was also determined to be false because a written grievance was filed on August 15, 2008 against the female co-worker and the Chief Residential Inspector for making “unprofessional, derogatory remarks” to a builder. Ron requested that the source of the accusation be produced and that the allegation be investigated because he denied that the incident occurred. A meeting was held with the developer who had told this female co-worker about the incident, and the developer was asked to provide this information. After two more inquiries on separate occasions, the matter was written up with a recommendation to drop the investigation for lack of evidence. Ron was given a copy of final product.

The seventh statement is, “I filed an open records request and according to Doug Gilbert, Jim Luebbering said, Ron cannot have any copies.” On September 25, 2008, a meeting was held between Luebbering and Ron in which Ron alleged that this female co-worker and two others were responsible for “inspection irregularities” at several job sites and that he needed to review each project’s routing sheets, computer printouts and project files so he could show these irregularities and discrepancies. With the permission of the county manager, the records were pulled on September 30, 2008, and Ron was given “ample time to review the records and take notes.” He was given eight hours of supervised access over two days. Ron was even advised to use sticky tabs to notate which documents to copy. Records were copied for Ron and nothing further was heard on this until the January 2009 accusation.

Doug Gilbert said that after his review of the project files, he came to the conclusion that the discrepancies were a result of poor record keeping such as failing to sign off on route sheets, etc. in the files and that there could have been [underline is his emphasis] some inspections that were incomplete and unfinished because he found that some inspections were not signed off. He cited a specific location in which one inspector made the business license inspection but didn’t sign off on it. Instead, he gave it to the female co-worker mentioned throughout this article to sign off on even though she didn’t perform the inspection. Gilbert said that he addressed the issue with both workers and advised that this would not be tolerated and that further disciplinary actions would be taken if the behavior persisted. Jim Luebbering said that he agreed with Gilbert’s summary on this matter and said that the investigation of an accusation of “inspection irregularities” revealed records keeping problems on several projects. Luebbering said that this could have been the fault of almost anyone in Ron’s section and pointed out that Ron was the manager of that section and he had plenty of time to inspect these files for accuracy and completeness as well as discipline his employees for poor record keeping while he was a Henry County employee.

The eighth statement was, “Mr. Luebbering advised us that recording a conversation or a meeting was not a good idea and he requested Doug to collect all our County issued voice recorders.” Luebbering said that recording of co-workers can be “divisive and create distrust” but until this accusation was made, he had no idea that employees even had “County issued voice recorders.” He said that he never asked Doug to collect them because of this and that he still doesn’t know that this is for a fact. He said that if recorders were issued, he thought it was a “waste of county Funds.”

Closing

This is a summation of the 55 pages of documents that were sent from Henry County to Pike County Times’ open records request.

After working in Henry County, Ron Alexander then worked as a Construction Engineer for Government Services IPT in Jacksonville, North Carolina from February 2009 to June 2012, as a Building Official for the Bryan County Board of Commissioners from June 2012 to August 2014, and as the Director of Community Development/Planning and Zoning/Building Official from August 2014 until he was hired and began working as the County Manager in Pike County in January of 2020.

Ron Alexander tendered an oral resignation to the Pike County Board of Commissioners that was accepted on June 10, 2020. Brandon Rogers has been appointed as the Interim County Manager for Pike County at this time.

Part II of this series will walk through more than 80 pages of documentation from Garden City including his personnel evaluations including an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) complaint with a female under his supervision that was mediated and settled in April of 2015.


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6.29.20
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