CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Water and Sewerage Authority voted Tuesday morning to censure member Garvin Haynes and to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that he be removed from the Authority.
Authority members voted after discussion of a complaint filed by Rockdale Water Resources employee Michelle Prescott. The measures were approved unanimously, with member David Shipp abstaining because he was not on the Authority board when the complaint was filed.
Haynes was absent from the meeting. A message seeking comment left on voicemail at his home was not immediately returned.
Authority Chairman Elaine Nash said after the meeting that other complaints have been filed against Haynes, but the Authority dealt only with Prescott's complaint since it was filed after the Authority drafted a new set of bylaws that specifically provide for the removal of a board member. According to the bylaws, "By majority vote, the Authority may recommend to the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners, that a member be removed from the Authority for cause. The causes for removal include violation of the Authority's Code of Ethics."
At the same time, the Authority also drafted a new code of ethics that prohibits board members from mistreatment of other employees of the Authority or county by verbal abuse, among other things.
Nash said Haynes had been given an opportunity to provide a written defense to the complaints against him, but he had not done so.
Authority member William Murraine made two motions with regard to Haynes: one, that he be censured by the Authority board; and two, that the Authority recommend to the Board of Commissioners that Haynes be removed from the Authority board.
In discussion prior to the board votes, Murraine said he had noticed in the past couple of years that Haynes had been "deliberately disrespectful" to members of Rockdale Water Resources staff.
"If we stand quietly by while one or some of us disrespect others, then we take ownership of that," he said.
Murraine said most members of the Authority board are able to work together with collegiality, but in the past 18 months to two years Haynes "has really gone out of his way to bring disharmony."
Authority member Chip Hatcher seconded Murraine's motion, saying that the RWR staff does not deserve this type of criticism from the board.
"It's so easy nowadays to send emails and say whatever you want, and once you send them, you can't get them back," Hatcher said, referring to emails Haynes had sent to Prescott and other employees.
Nash agreed, saying that the Authority should deal with issues rather than personalities.
"I'm afraid Mr. Haynes hasn't managed to control himself," Nash said. "He doesn't seem to be able to control himself."
The Authority had originally planned to address Prescott's complaint at its Dec. 20 meeting, but the discussion was postponed because Haynes could not be present at that meeting.
Prescott, a senior business and technical services coordinator with RWR, filed her complaint against Haynes on Nov. 12, citing Haynes' "rude and offensive" tone and comments about RWR Director Dwight Wicks in an email sent to her on Nov. 8. According to Prescott's complaint letter, Haynes' email was in response to an email she had sent out regarding work on RWR's fiscal policy. She wrote that Haynes followed up with an email directed at her that was "even more offensive."
Prescott further stated that in the nearly 12 years she has worked there, she has never seen RWR run as well as it is today.
"It's very difficult for me to understand why Mr. Haynes continues down the path of trying to destroy something we have all worked so hard for," she wrote.
Prescott added, "I have watched (Haynes) almost tear the Authority and RWR apart, and also seen him berate many staff members in meetings and through many emails over the past year. No one deserves to be on the receiving end of this type of behavior."
Another earlier effort to address Haynes' behavior as a board member was put on hold. In August, the Authority considered a motion by Murrain to censure and remove Haynes from the board. At that time, Murrain said that Haynes had "embarked on a course of action which has brought the reputation, credibility and comity of this able body into public disrepute."
The motion was tabled to allow Haynes time to present a written defense. The Authority also decided then to move forward with changing its bylaws and adopting a code of ethics that would address board behavior.