In a stunning reversal, Macon City Council voted 10-4 late Tuesday night to reinstate Richard Powell as city Public Works director.
Mayor Robert Reichert fired Powell on Feb. 1, and two months later hired Shawn Fritz as interim Public Works director.
Powell was charged with incompetence; among other justifications, the administration said he was unable to stick to his budget, did $50,000 damage by partially sinking an excavator in a lake, and broke the law by taking hunting parties to shoot wild hogs in the city landfill.
Powell appealed his firing, and city officials wrangled for months over how to hold a nearly unprecedented hearing for a department head. An attempt on May 31 collapsed in a dispute over rules after barely an hour.
Tuesday’s hearing lasted seven hours, including 45 minutes of closed-door deliberation.
At the end, council members emerged to reinstate Powell by the bare number necessary to do so.
Council members Lauren Benedict, Ed DeFore, Jaime Kaplan and Nancy White voted to uphold Powell’s firing, White said; Councilman Mike Cranford was absent, and Councilman Charles Jones arrived three hours late - Powell had called to summon him, White said.