Fired Fayette IT staffer fights back, threatens suit

An information technology employee for Fayette County government who was sacked last week fought back through his attorney at Thursday night’s meeting of the county commission.

Attorney Scott Bennett, who formerly served as the county’s staff attorney, said his client and friend Russell Prince was informed the previous week that he was determined to be “a security risk” after Prince followed the instructions of his boss and passed along a request from Commission Chairman Steve Brown.

The request specifically sought emails from a particular email account in which Brown had mentioned two search terms he listed in the email to the county’s IT director, Bennett explained.

Bennett said Prince, a 17-year county employee, was demoted earlier this year and was summoned to a meeting with Brown, who had urged him to seek employment elsewhere, Bennett claimed.

Making matters worse, when Prince was terminated Monday, the county did not follow its procedures of providing him notice in writing of his chance to appeal the termination, nor had the county followed its progressive discipline policy.

The fact that the dismissal came right before the holidays was another aggravating factor, Bennett explained, urging the commission to work with County Administrator Steve Rapson to overturn the action before a potential lawsuit might be filed.

Rapson and other county officials declined to comment on the matter during the meeting.

Bennett said Prince would appeal the decision, even though it will ultimately remain Rapson’s decision and if necessary a second appeal would be filed with a tribunal panel of department heads.

Bennett said Prince’s boss berated him for failing to search Brown’s other email accounts, even though the request identified just one such account, commonly referred to as the “dump” account. But the email specifically requested that particular account to be searched, mentioning no other email accounts, Bennett said.

Bennett also said that Rapson told Prince that he “failed to fully comply with an open records request” which could cause embarrassment to the county and to the chairman. Prince replied that he didn’t get an open records request, but instead it was a request to look in a specific email account for the particular search terms.

“The explanation was that he made a mistake that could have gotten the county in a lawsuit, and that Rapson thought that was a terminable offense on the first offense,” Bennett said.

Bennett noted that Prince has said he followed the letter of the request and was careful in doing so because he feared that Brown wanted to have him fired.

conditon55
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Fight tooth and nail.

What the other options? Roll over and take it on the chin from a pack of (fill in the blank)s

Steve Brown
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A whole bunch of speculation on this one.

I would suggest that everyone go to the county website and pull up the video of the meeting and watch the proceedings for yourself, www.fayettecountyga.gov.

It was made public that I learned of the IS Director's termination after it occurred.

On the two email accounts, I have a long-standing personal email account and a county email. Obviously, many people have my personal email address and some will send county correspondence to my personal email.

I had the IS staff create a "dump file" within the county email system. When I respond to a citizen email regarding county business, I blind copy the dump file, so an official record of it appears in the county system. Scott Bennett referenced this in his "presentation" at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

Since the situation referenced by Bennett falls under threatened litigation for now, I will not comment on the matter specifically. Obviously, there are two sides to this story.

PTC Observer
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Around and Around

we go, where we stop nobody knows.

Erased hard drives, remember?

Bennett?

Brown?

Prince?

Krakeel?

You connect the dots, where we stop nobody knows.

What could have been on those hard drives? Why search Mr. Brown's mailbox? Why did the grand jury not get this?

PTC Observer
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duplicate

*

NUK_1
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They fired Russell Prince?

Wow......the Steve Brown tentacles appear again all over the place, despite the fact that he shouldn't have anything to do with this situation.

This is a guy who knew what he was doing and with limited resources did a helluva job. I hope he takes FC to the cleaners on this one.

Husband and Fat...
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Something aint kosher

"Bennett said Prince, a 17-year county employee, was demoted earlier this year and was summoned to a meeting with Brown, who had urged him to seek employment elsewhere, Bennett claimed."

Why is Mr. Brown requesting meetings like this? This is Rapsons job.

Oh, Steve and his fellow acolytes appointed themselves the right to do this. Like requesting toilet paper in the restroom.

Why does Mr. Brown have multiple email accounts? Is this to circumvent open record requests?

Something aint quite kosher.

Robert W. Morgan
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Brown clown is no longer just a clown - he da man!!!

If Bob Lenox did something like this when Brown was a backbencher, all hell would have broken loose and The Citizen would have had it front page above the fold.

Brown has been admonished before, but those things don't deter the intrepid crusader. Lawsuit coming? You betcha. I'm just guessing, but $200k we the taxpayers will payout because of the chairman's huge ego.

You elected him, many of us in PTC warned you. Shame on you. Remember this stuff next election. It is a much bigger mistake than Haddix's $12,000.