Gordon clerk files whistle-blower lawsuit

awomack@macon.comMay 9, 2014 

An April 28 reprimand for insubordination is cited in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed this week by Gordon’s city clerk against the city

In a memorandum written on city letterhead, Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue described a phone conversation between the city attorney and City Clerk Towanna Brown:

While the mayor listened via speakerphone, Brown asked City Attorney Joseph Boone about possible repercussions if she signed a check to pay an auditor despite the city council not voting to approve the payment.

The mayor wrote, “Attorney Boone spoke to Council (sic) Reese, you and I, directing you not to sign the check. I informed you that I sign your check and not Attorney Boone and you could be suspended for being insubordinate. ... Please be advised that further disciplinary actions could be taken for continued insubordination.”

The mayor’s memorandum is included as an exhibit for Brown’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Wilkinson County Superior Court.

In the court filing, Brown alleges Whipple-Lue threatened her job on April 28 when she refused to sign the check, two weeks after the mayor and Councilman Terry Reese had refused to sign the same check.

Brown never signed the check, believing she’d be breaking the law if she did.

Residents in City Hall paying bills overheard the mayor threatening Brown, according to the lawsuit.

Charles E. Cox Jr., one of Brown’s lawyers, declined comment Friday.

Boone referred comment to Macon lawyer Tom Richardson, saying the city’s insurance company has appointed him to represent Gordon in the case.

Attempts to reach Richardson, the mayor and the mayor’s lawyer were unsuccessful Friday.

Brown alleges she’s been harassed and that the mayor’s reprimand “constitutes retaliation.”

She is seeking compensation for “emotional pain and suffering, anxiety, stress, depression and humiliation,” an injunction, and the payment of attorneys’ fees and court costs.

A hearing is scheduled for July 25 in a separate lawsuit filed by the Concerned Citizens of Gordon group who seek to remove Whipple-Lue from office. Their suit alleges the mayor has violated the state’s open meetings law on multiple occasions.

Brown and three other city employees filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year alleging racial discrimination has created a hostile work environment. Other employees filing EEOC claims include Police Chief Rupert “Mike” Hall, Deputy City Clerk Heather Hawver and Public Works Director Melvin Lawrence.

The EEOC complaints still are pending.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service