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Reaction volatile when mayor announces Hawley on ‘leave’ ’til May

Hawley, John 2009 mug-webBy SHANNON WATKINS

shannon@southwesttimes.com

After an hour and 15 minutes in closed session Pulaski Town Council emerged to announce Town Manager John Hawley will be on leave until May 7, which is the date of the next council meeting.

The announcement was made to an overflow crowd in Council Chambers after rumors had been circulating of some council members’ intentions to dismiss Hawley at the meeting. Hawley has been employed by the town for almost 39 years. He was named town manager in 2002.

Mayor Jeff Worrell said, “Town Manager John Hawley, due to his extended tenure with the town of Pulaski, has built up considerable leave and vacation time and will, for personal reasons, be off until May 7. Thank you.”

The manager was not observed communicating directly with the council while they were in closed session. Town attorney David Warburton was observed leaving the closed session to confer outside the council chambers with Hawley’s attorney before returning to the session after Hawley’s attorney spoke privately with Hawley.

Pulaski citizen Jennifer White stood up and called out, “Excuse me, could you tell me what that means for our town manager? Does that mean (May 7) is his last day of employment? Or does that mean he will work through to his retirement period?”

Worrell replied, “He will be off until May 7.”

“What happens after May 7?” asked White. After a pause from council, she said, “You don’t have an answer.”

“Well, I’m very disappointed in this,” White continued. “And you know, you all were elected, and you can all be not elected again, and also maybe we could get a petition to have you dismissed. Thank you very much.”

Her speech was met with applause from the crowd.

In the hallway after her speech, White commented as the crowd filed out, “I’m a taxpayer, I’m an active person in this community, I have been here, I chose to come here with my husband (Pulaski Economic Development Director John White), and I’m very disappointed in the actions of this town council. It is just totally immoral, in relation to the actions of the way you would treat an employee that has been here for over 30-some years. It is ridiculous.”

She turned to Charles Wade, a former Pulaski mayor, who was also present in the hallway, saying, “I know you’re involved in this. I don’t care. He is a human being. He’s been here a long time and you just don’t treat people like that. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Wade replied, “I don’t know what part of this I’m supposed to be involved with.”

White said, “I think you know.”

After the meeting, some council members were asked for comment on Hawley’s leave until May.

Councilman Greg East declined comment, saying, “I’m not really at liberty to say anything.”

Council member Dave Clark said, “I’m not willing to (comment). It’s a personal decision and he has the time coming to him, so.” He added, “I hope he gets to play a lot of golf.”

Vice Mayor Joseph Goodman said, “It (Hawley’s supposed intention to take time off) was communicated to us earlier. And as far as I know he’ll be back to work on the eighth. I know of nothing else that would prohibit him from returning on the eighth at this point.”

He added, “I look forward to having John back on the eighth and getting to work and getting some stuff done for our town citizens.”

Mayor Worrell said, “I don’t have to tell you, there’s a lot of rumors, a lot of talk going around this town, and John’s accumulated significant time off, and just feels like it’s a good time to take it. He was informed (of the leave) before it was announced.” Worrell indicated that there was communication between council and the manager during the session but declined to elaborate.

Hawley himself said, “I’m not going to make any comments. I’m trying to tie up business tonight.”

Assistant Town Manager Dave Quesenberry, who will be acting town manager in Hawley’s absence, said only, “We’ll just do the best we can.”

11 Responses to Reaction volatile when mayor announces Hawley on ‘leave’ ’til May

  1. Local bystander

    April 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    It certainly is a sad day for Pulaski when a man as loyal and dedicated to a town that has been sinking in a hole for years is forced out of his office for whatever reason. Pulaski’s greatest advocate is John Hawley. I’m thankful I got out of the town when I did. Good Luck Town of Pulaski Citizens. (your gonna need it.)

  2. Barbara Conner

    April 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    What a sham! The Pulaski Council members are acting unprofessionally and unethically. I hope the town’s residents vote every one of them out of office. When Mr. Hawley announced back in February that he was “retiring,” Mayor Worrell praised Mr. Hawley’s tenure as Town Manager and said the town had been “blessed” to have had him for all those years. The Mayor used words like “loyal” and “dedicated” to describe him. “His work ethic and loyal dedication to the town are above reproach,” he said. Well, what has changed?! People in Pulaski can see right through this boondoggle. Mrs. White, I applaude your boldness and courage in confronting Council with your question last night — even though it was not answered. Bravo!

  3. Minnie

    April 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Sham is to say the least. I see our good council is at it again. What a joke at least four of this group has turned out to be.

    When is the council going to stop with the personal, petty attacks and get some work done for the citizens of this town??? Where do the personal agendas stop? Instead of working, all I see is a group, and there again, a group of four that appear to want to tear the town down to nothing from the inside.

    To begin with, you have one council member who seems to go with whatever the others say. Have a mind of your own Miss Steele, voice your opinion. Don’t just go with the flow.

    Then you have one who seems determined to keep with his campaign promises that were shouted all over town to “start at the top and clean house”. A police officer should be more ethical than that.

    Then the next two. It is sad when two council members can finish each other’s sentances the way Mr. Goodman and Mr. East can. Begs to wonder, how much is being discussed out of council? I’ll vote for yours if you vote for mine… that’s why our Federal government is in the mess it’s in.

    The other two council members seem to genuinely care about our town and seeing it along with our citizens prosper. Good for your Mr. Clark and Mr. Kid.

    Come on guys and lady, get your heads on straight and do the job you were elected to do. Benefit this town.

    I encourage all town citizens to truly get to know the folks that are in office. I certainly thought I knew who I was voting for; and it appears I was certainly wrong. I won’t make that mistake again.

    Mrs. White, where can we start that petition??

  4. bigtime

    April 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Pulaski City is a dump. It’s leaders are morons . John deserves better.

  5. Concerned

    April 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I absolutely agree with the previous two comments and applaud Ms. White’s confrontation of town council last night. I have known John Hawley for years and there is not a person more dedicated or a stronger advocate for Pulaski. I think it is a shame when council members and vice mayor blatantly lie or will not admit their actions in this situation. It is also worse than horrible when the mayor lies and hides behind a cloak of secrecy when confronted directly. This town has been declining for years now, but not because of Mr. Hawley’s effort. I think he is the victim here. If there is anything positive to come out of this, just maybe, residents of Pulaski will realize the crippled elected leadership we have and vote in a new mayor and council during the next elections. Or maybe we should follow Ellisville, Missouri’s lead.

  6. Town Resident

    April 17, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    This town is in serious trouble. When any city or town has issues with it’s leadership (ie: Town Council, Mayor, etc) it is with sadness that those towns usually fail on an epic level.

    When I moved to this town it was for many reasons and I don’t want to see this town fail.

    Is there anyone out there that can straighten out this mess??

  7. Very concerned

    April 18, 2013 at 5:40 am

    I personally think that now is the perfect time for the citizens of the Town of Pulaski to push for consolidation. If anyone has info or interest in starting a petition I know I certaainly would sign it.

  8. Gracie

    April 18, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Why should the citizens of the town push for consolidation? The County has their plate full with a budget that is in bad enough shape that a tax increase was necessary. I think consolidation may happen at some point, but I don’t think the county is in any position to take on the town.

  9. Fact Finder

    April 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    I wanted to post / respond prior to today however as my name indicates I don’t want to post something that is not true. If John is being required to take vacation / comp time, why is he banned from coming into the building where he works? I have never known a company to tell somebody that they cant come to the work place if there on vacation or taking comp time. Is this a policy for the Pulaski Sheriff’s Office or Va Tech. Yes, I’m calling you two out. Why ban a man from coming to his work place just because he is being required to take vacation time or comp time? I also agree with a previous post, “The other two council members seem to genuinely care about our town and seeing it along with our citizens prosper. Good for you Mr. Clark and Mr. Kid.” I”m still trying to find out who Radcliffe winked at when he came out of close session. I will be posting more as I find the facts, please stay tuned more facts to come.

  10. Local Business Owner

    April 19, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I have been here in the downtown area for 2 years and have “never” seen John in town or even stop in my store to say hello or ask how my business is doing or offer to help in any way. B&B Feeds, Antique Bouquet, Coffee By the Book even ABC’s have closed down. How can we support a town that doesn’t support us?

    Everyone that works for the town and can help the downtown area Businesses, need to get off their As–es and from behind desk and take just 1 day off and simply walk downtown and get to know everyone of your local business and offer help in anyway.