05 May 2019

[MB McCart] - Thoughts on the Avery Settlement

A Commentary by MB McCart, Editor 

Folks, as a lot of you now undoubtedly know, Newton Co. has agreed in principle to a $500,000 settlement with Anthony Avery, former director of the Newton Co. Recreation Department, and whose firing set off a chain of events, the likes of which the home county has hardly ever seen.

If you'll remember, TPC was on the front lines of this story right from the get-go, going back to November of 2017. Later, more information would reveal itself & then a chain of events started to occur that eventually culminated with the recent news

A good number of Newtonians were very displeased with this outcome, and shocker! - one of those was yours truly. 

First & foremost, my biggest issue with it is strictly business. The financial impact. Newton's budget numbers leave a lot to be desired & are only getting worse as evidenced by my recent report on FY 2018's numbers. We don't have this money to spend! 

But enough of the facts & backstory, let's get into the real-deal: let's play the blame game!

I'm tempted to leave it as just -  "everybody," but that wouldn't be any fun.

But first, let's go ahead & talk about the 800-lb gorilla, or, if you prefer, the elephant in the living room:

This whole sh!tshow was predicated on the playing of a certain card, one dealing with one's color of skin. We all know it. It is what it is. And let's not kid ourselves - a lot of the righteous indignation, disappointment & handwringing with the way all this turned out is probably based on just plain, old-fashioned racism. We got the memo. So, racism...on both sides. 

We'll call this one a push. 

Secondly, the six most dreaded words in government - "we've always done it this way." And, by golly folks, there's no better representation of that in this entire world than the Newton County Recreation Commission. It's how Avery's predecessor purportedly ran things, it's how things'd always been done. 

Quick sidebar, I probably realized this thing was gonna go the way it did when I was reminded of this - in the spring of 2018 2017, the Rec Commission had actually cleared Avery of any & all wrongdoing that was referenced in the infamous forensic audit of Newton Co. back in the fall of 2016. Why did the commission do that? Well, they basically admitted the fact that they'd "always done it this way." That was a mistake, and ultimately I think it was the mistake of the man at the top at the time, Mr. Danny Stone.

As Chairman of this commission, Mr. Stone seemed to make mistake after mistake. Things were poorly handled. The origins of wanting to make a change with regards to Mr. Avery as the Director (CEO) was one based on protecting the Newton Co. taxpayer & improving performance of the Rec Department as it had devolved into a dysfunctional organization ripe with incompetence, laziness & nepotism.

It was terribly mishandled, and again - the lion's share of the blame, in my estimation, fell squarely on Stone.

When it was realized that they'd terminated Avery incorrectly, the Recreation Commission had the opportunity to remedy the situation; however, they didn't do it.

Fortunately, though, the county did. They went through the proper process & definitely upheld this civil servant's rights of due process. And though it was originally mishandled, a mountain of case law would've almost assuredly guaranteed the county's victory if this thing had gone to trial in...let's say, 2021, or 2022.

But that was the rub. Think of all of those billable hours being charged by those "guardian$ (sic) of justice," the attorneys. Would we have ended up spending just as much? Quite possibly.

Besides, it'd become more & more apparent that the Newton BOC had no appetite to carry this thing out, especially having a lawyer - Ronnie Cowan, BOC5 - on the board. Hell, he wanted to settle this damn thing back in December of '17. Naturally, JC would want the county to pay Avery. It seemed as if Lanier, and then later Mason, were in the same boat, and naturally Nancy was going to join up with the consensus.

So there you have it - $500K paid to a fella that was eviscerated by the aforementioned audit, and was later found to have been fired WITH CAUSE by the county. But, I feel fully confident that Mr. Avery's not going to be concerned with any of that as he takes his check to the bank.

But let's not forget that Mr. Avery won't be collecting a check for half a million bucks. No, it'll be more like a bit over $300,000 as Ms. Stephanie Lindsey will be collecting a handsome six-digit payment for valuable services rendered.

And's let's talk Attorney Lindsey for a spell. Man, what a woman! Good lookin', smart as hell, she's obviously very talented at her profession (and that's been the impression for some time, predating this episode). Furthermore, she's an advocate for her people. A politico, and really, a kingmaker of sorts, and now she's got the BIG win under her belt. This publication will be keeping a keen eye on this woman & her future endeavors. 

She knew the lay of the land as soon as this thing happened, at least the threat of the possibility of a case for a Title VII violation of the CRA of 1964. And naturally, she had her political protege & dear friend, Marcello Banes, Chairman of the Board of Newton Co., and with whom she'd donated a very large sum of money to during his political campaign.

But the big this is this: I have no doubt she knew which way the wind was blowing, especially with Cowan on the BOC, and the typical dynamics any time race is involved. Ultimately, she played a high-stakes game of poker, bluffed, and then she won.

So...there's one more thing to this, maybe the most important thing.

This ended it all...for Newton Co., and the Newton Co. Rec Commission.

But that's not the case for the City of Covington.

No sir! That's a separate thing; that's a separate suit. Per a source with the county, the lawyers for the city weren't impressed one bit & walked out.

And this is the rub - by suing the city, when there is no legal standing to do so - it makes it all fully obvious that it was just a money grab. 

Well...I leave it with this: I, personally, am going to do everything in my power humanly possible to make sure that the City of Covington never pays a damn dime for this absolute bullsh!t farce of a circus. Not even the negligible, nominal amount that I think Lindsey was probably angling for. It wouldn't be right. Newton Co. might bail on principle, but I'll be damned if the city does! 

And the REAL rub: you'll notice there's a lot of crickets coming from the usual suspects around here that you just know would be shaking their fists & heads with this whole thing; however, they feel that this could be a hit for the former city representative of the Rec Commission & current East Ward Councilman, Josh McKelvey. I know for a fact that with a small number of these a$$hats, they're feeling the whole "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" vibe. 

To hell w/ 'em all! 

And that's the ole $.02.

Thanks for reading. Until next time.

MB McCart 

P.S. Some are calling on a concerted effort to petition the Newton Co. BOC to reject this settlement, and ultimately they have to vote on it, which they'll be doing at Tuesday's BOC meeting. I'll join that cause, though I'm afraid it to be a futile one, but I'll still try.