Jeffrey Chance v. Forsyth County settlement 08/02/12

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Nydia Tisdale
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Jeffrey Chance v. Forsyth County settlement 08/02/12

Post by Nydia Tisdale » August 2nd, 2012, 11:30 pm



The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 (with Brian Tam on vacation) tonight to award a $325,000 settlement to fired Forsyth County Planning Director Jeffrey Chance.

$225,000 will be paid by the insurer and $100,000 will be paid by the county.

His annual salary was a little over $92,000.

Chance was fired in August 2010 for violating many county policies.

An Open Records Act Request for Chance's emails revealed thousands of messages containing jokes, profanity, and racial and sexual material.

The firing received national attention by the Associated Press.

Video by Nydia Tisdale for AboutForsyth.com.

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Fired planning director Jeff Chance settles with Forsyth Co.

Post by Nydia Tisdale » August 3rd, 2012, 12:04 am

Image

Fired planning director Jeffrey Chance

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Nydia Tisdale
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Commissioner Patrick Bell cowardly sat in silence

Post by Nydia Tisdale » August 3rd, 2012, 4:10 pm

Focus on Forsyth County, GA
August 3, 2012

David Richard I have no idea why the commissioners would cave on this. I found it especially rather cowardly for Patrick Bell to sit in silence and not even make a motion or a second on this, given his opposition to (and subsequent testimony against the county in) Chance's firing.

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Re: Jeffrey Chance v. Forsyth County settlement 08/02/12

Post by greenbaynative » August 4th, 2012, 8:24 pm

David: Because you aren't getting the whole story.

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Re: Jeffrey Chance v. Forsyth County settlement 08/02/12

Post by weisser59 » August 5th, 2012, 7:07 am

David,
You were on the board and saw what Laughinghouse and Tam did! Plus our good county attorney also has good reason. This good reason for BOC to pay Chance off.

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County settles with ex-planning director

Post by Nydia Tisdale » August 15th, 2012, 9:10 pm

Chance will receive $325K, drop lawsuits

Forsythnews.com
By Alyssa LaRenzie
August 3, 2012

Forsyth County commissioners have approved a settlement agreement with former planning director Jeff Chance.

Chance was terminated from his 15-year employment with the county in August 2010 after an investigation of his management practices and computer use.

He filed two lawsuits against the county: one in 2010 that contended his rights as a whistleblower had been violated and another in 2011 appealing the civil service board’s decision to uphold his firing.
The settlement states that Chance will drop both cases against the county and cannot make future claims.

He would also receive $325,000 from Forsyth, with $225,000 paid by the county’s insurance and $100,000 from the general fund.

Commissioners voted 4-0 during their meeting Thursday, with Brian Tam absent, to approve the agreement, which will become final once signed by both parties.

Attorney Tim Buckley, hired by the county to litigate the suits, said the matter was mediated in May.

“The parties reached terms which were recommended for resolution by counsel and the insurer,” Buckley said.

Each side will be responsible for its own attorney fees, he said.

Figures from Buckley’s office estimated that about $150,000 had been charged in fees on the Chance cases, with about $100,000 paid by the county’s insurance and about $50,000 by the county.

Chance’s attorney, Eric Chofnas, did not return calls Friday seeking comment.

Chairman Jim Boff said after the meeting that the county felt comfortable with the settlement in part because the insurance company “was willing to foot most of the bill.”

Also, he said “it closes out something that’s been hanging around for a long time.”

In his appeal and lawsuit, Chance contended his dismissal was politically motivated, while the county has argued it was based on failure to comply with and enforce policies.

The county's investigation was prompted by former planning board member Brant Meadows' review of Chance's county e-mail.

That probe turned up messages of a sexually and racially charged nature between Chance, his girlfriend and other county employees.

Chance, who was making about $92,000 a year, used profanity at work and permitted employees to waste county time, according to the investigation.

In its first review in December 2010, the civil service board upheld three of the 12 findings in the county's probe and partially supported three others. The remaining six were not sustained.

Chance appealed to the Forsyth County Superior Court, which remanded the case back to the civil service board.

In November, the board once again upheld his termination, stating in its decision that Chance “met his burden of proving that a discriminatory/retaliatory motive was a factor in the decision to terminate his employment."

However, it continues, "The civil service board finds that the county would have made the same personnel decision based on non-retaliatory/nondiscriminatory grounds."

Since Chance’s dismissal, former assistant planning director Tom Brown was named director of planning and community development.

The commission also approved a change in the job description. The position now reports to the county manager instead of the commission and the director serves at will instead of falling under civil service.

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Commissioner Patrick Bell's testimony cost county $500,000

Post by Nydia Tisdale » August 15th, 2012, 9:15 pm

FCN COMMENTS

forsyth_taxpayer: August 3, 2012 5:42 p.m.
Must be nice to get paid $325k not to come to work. Where can I get a job like this?!

LookOutside: August 5, 2012 11:21 a.m.
If this man was fired for the reasons stated, why was the lawsuit mediated for over 1/2 million dollars in his favor. Something just doesn't sound right. How can these commissioners feel good about that kind of result?

Leo: August 6, 2012 11:08 a.m.
The reason it was settled is because Chance, “met his burden of proving that a discriminatory/retaliatory motive was a factor in the decision to terminate his employment." It dosen't matter that, "the county would have made the same personnel decision based on non-retaliatory/nondiscriminatory grounds." The county can't have it's cake and eat it too. The settlement leaves a bitter taste in this taxpayer's mouth, but the changes made to insure that it dosen't happen again are sufficiently reassuring. I'm especially happy that both sides are required to pay their own attorney fees.

However, although I am strongly dedicated to protecting whistleblowers, I have to wonder how a planning member could possibly have access to another employee's email in order to blow the whistle in this case. Perhaps review of the policies regarding use and abuse of internal county email should be reexamined in light of this embarrassing and wasteful experience.

charlesbpurcell: August 10, 2012 1:07 a.m.
I don't pretend to know all the facts of Mr. Chance's dismissal. However, Attorneys say the primary evidence used to prove he was unjustly fired came from the testimony of incumbent 4th district Commissioner Patrick Bell. Mr. Chance happens to be close friends with one of Bell's largest campaign contributors. I'm not sure if Bell was righting an injustice or perpetrating one, but he did cost the taxpayer's a half a million of our hard earned dollars, between the settlement and Attorney fees. Poor leadership by the entire Board of Commissioners.

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