BREAKING: Council boots temp agencies, refuses to pay | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

BREAKING: Council boots temp agencies, refuses to pay

Amid growing concerns about who Mayor Frank Melton is hiring and whether or not they have been drug-tested, City Council voted 4-0 Thursday to an amendment booting temp agencies supplying workers to the city of Jackson. On Tuesday, the council voted down a (financial) claims docket based on concerns over temporary workers hired by the mayor, and some members demanded more details on those workers before they would approve the docket. Melton did not attend the meeting.

Chief Administration Officer Robert Walker told the council that he had given some information on temporary workers to Council President Ben Allen, but other requested information (such as names and disbursements for city employees on the city's payroll) remained in Melton's personal office. Council members would have to speak to Melton in order to get all the information they wanted, Walker said.

Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler was frustrated at the secrecy. "I'm still baffled why we've got to go directly to the mayor to get information that's public record," Councilman Marshand Crisler said, pointing out that names and salaries were public records.

Walker eventually offered the information to council members before the end of the meeting, but Crisler said the information remains piecemeal.

"Payroll never has a list of names on it when it comes to the council. It just comes to us and says 'payroll.' One sheet or two sheets, with the amount we spent. (Melton) could have hired anybody, and we wouldn't know it," Crisler said.

Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon noted the number of temp agencies used by the city and asked whether City Council had ever approved annual contracts for them. She also asked whether temporary workers were subject to background checks and drug tests, as permanent city employees do.

"They go through some background checks, through their individual agencies," said Personnel Management Director Wendy Crumpton, who could not speak on the thoroughness of the temp agency background checks.

"So you're saying the temp agency may have those requirements for background checks, but we (the city) don't require them to, have them, right?" Crisler asked.

"Exactly," said Crumpton

Only four council members attended the special meeting—just enough for a quorum, but that was enough to boot the agencies from the docket in a 4-0-vote amendment. Once the amendment was passed, council members approved the claims docket by a 3-0 vote. The vote means the city will withhold payment until the vote comes up again in Jan. 7. By that date, councilmen Frank Bluntson, Charles Tillman and Kenneth Stokes will likely approve the docket—and its temp agencies—with a new majority. Stokes, who never votes in favor of the docket, strangely voted in favor of it last Tuesday.

Barrett-Simon said she would continue to have serious issues with the temp agencies.

"I'm very concerned about the legal aspects of what we're doing here, and the fact that we're contracting a number of personnel agencies that we don't even have contracts with, and the liability that we could be in for. Worse, I think using temp agencies is circumventing the hiring process and enrollment process that's in place," she said.

Previous Comments

ID
124944
Comment

"By that date, councilmen Frank Bluntson, Charles Tillman and Kenneth Stokes will likely approve the docket—and its temp agencies—with a new majority." I'm missing something here, wouldn't a majority require a vote of four or more, who's voting with those three?

Author
K RHODES
Date
2006-12-21T19:06:54-06:00
ID
124945
Comment

My guess would be Ben Allen, who would have been part of the 4-0 majority booting the temp workers but probably not part of the 3-0 majority voting on the claims docket. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-21T19:12:50-06:00
ID
124946
Comment

Again I'm missing something because surely this will not be the vote of the lone republican councilman who touts Ronald Regan as one his personal heroes?

Author
K RHODES
Date
2006-12-21T19:40:35-06:00
ID
124947
Comment

Before council split out the temp agencies, they actually tried to pass the docket as it was. That effort failed on a 2-2 vote, with McLemore and Allen in support, Crisler and Barrett-Simon against. They voted down both dockets before coming up with the compromise that they would separate the temp agency payments.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-12-21T19:43:15-06:00
ID
124948
Comment

With the exception of the “Melton three” how two of the other four council persons would support this is beyond me when it so appears to be a case of pure cronyism. It’s time to play hardball with Melton and his bullshit!

Author
K RHODES
Date
2006-12-21T20:00:23-06:00
ID
124949
Comment

Before council split out the temp agencies, they actually tried to pass the docket as it was. That effort failed on a 2-2 vote, with McLemore and Allen in support, Crisler and Barrett-Simon against. They voted down both dockets before coming up with the compromise that they would separate the temp agency payments. BJ Wow it is a bizarro world today. Ben Allen just did a John Kerry. "I voted for the claims docket before I voted against it!"

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-12-21T20:21:29-06:00
ID
124950
Comment

Good reporting on an important issue. Also, the CL is reporting it here. I am not tracking I don't think on the votes for Jan 7, Allen voted against the temp worker docket, right? So I would call him against the docket on the 7th, which would mean BarSim, Allen, Crisler, Mclemore - either against or for holding out on temp workers, Stokes,Bluntson, and Tillman - for unified docket because its christmas. You think Allen will vote for docket with temp worker claims in it? RNH.

Author
Niles Hooper
Date
2006-12-22T09:44:22-06:00
ID
124951
Comment

If the City has paid temporary employees $840,000.00 under Melton, and still owes around $20,000.00 this for this year, that is around $48,000.00/month. There is no way this saves the City money that I can see. Someone is paying their insurance, social security, etc. plus the Agencies have to make money too. Channel 16 is reporting that 'some have been working for the City for 5 years'. This seems very unlikely and needs to be clarified. A temporary worker should be just that; someone to fill in during vacation, sick leave, etc. Whether the employee 'asks' to be given a place on the actual city payroll is irrelevant. This whole topic needs further illumination and perhaps is a good area for the Council to initiate an investigation. The rumors surrounding the firing of the first Human Resources Director appointed by Melton merit investigation also. IF anything has been done by this Administration to circumvent standard procedures of employment by the City then we all need to know. These records must be made public and must be made public according to the laws of the State of Mississippi. The City (Legal and/or Administration) does not have one penny that isn't taxpayer money and has no right to keep public information secret.

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2006-12-22T10:15:07-06:00
ID
124952
Comment

Good comment Chris. There was some confusion and debate about the length of individual temps' employment at the meeting yesterday as well. Crisler, in particular, was concerned to see that some workers had been working for the city for years as temps. Rick Hill, who will take over for Peyton Prospere in the new year, told council that the start dates indicated on the payroll sheets they got was the first time that person had ever worked for the city as a temp. It did not necessarily mean they had been employed by the city the entire time. Obviously, that doesn't mean they haven't been working that whole time either. The main thing missing from Goliath's story on this is the obstruction by Melton. Baydala said the city financial office provided a "final report," but it was just a bunch of payroll information. The detailed list council members really wanted was in Melton's office. At one point, Allen said to Walker something along these lines, "Tell him we need to get that in here now, because the people up here are not going to change their minds."

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-12-22T11:05:15-06:00

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