Jasper city clerk fired Monday
JASPER, Fla. — The Jasper City Council voted to fire City Clerk Jennifer Hightower Monday night.
The investigation by Allen Norton & Blue, PA of two hostile working environment complaints have been completed.
According to the report from Allen Norton & Blue, neither Hightower’s complaint against former city manager Charles Williams nor the complaint from Senior Billing Clerk Patricia Herring against Hightower constitute a hostile working environment.
The investigation report for Herring’s complaint states “However, the information obtained does indicate that Hightower has a pattern of unprofessional conduct that has had a negative impact on the working environment and has acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the best interest of the City.”
According to Hightower’s complaint, Williams threatened her while he was carrying a gun in a holster at City Hall and raised his voice at her after she refused to place an item on the agenda.
According to Herring’s complaint, she was being falsely accused of wrongdoing stemming from questions pertaining to zoning.
“I’d like to make a motion that the city council terminate the employment of Jennifer Hightower,” Councilman Gerald Lewis said.
Councilman William Mitchell seconded the motion.
“In the best interest of the city, I think Hightower should resign,” Councilman LaBarfield Bryant said.
The board voted to fire Hightower with at 3-2 vote. Councilman Jay Daigle and Councilman Darnell Lumpkin voted against the firing.
“If you terminate your clerk, you’ve got to figure out what you are going to do,” City Attorney Rhett Bullard said.
Interim City Manager Marcus Collins was appointed as the interim city clerk until a new clerk is found. He took the minutes for the remainder of the meeting after Hightower left.
“You guys have successfully probably taken Jasper off the map,” Margie Geddes said during public comments. “I’ve never seen anything as ridiculous as the last few months with Jasper without anybody at the head and I hear you just fired the last person who knew everything that is going on in the city.
“I’ll tell you another thing, there isn’t going to be any building left because I have the right to do what I want with my buildings and I am bulldozing them.”
Calvin Dees, Hightower’s father, also spoke during public comments.
“Jennifer is my daughter and I am here for one answer,” Dees said. “What was the grounds of her being dismissed?”
Lewis asked if Dees had a copy of the investigation report and Dees said no.
“We have to go by the charter,” Lewis said.
“If I fired you, I’d be man enough to tell you why I fired you,” Dees said.
“We have to go by the charter,” Lewis replied.
“That’s a copout and you know it as well as I know,” Dees said.
Lewis again said “We have to go by the charter.”
“Why don’t you go by the charter on everything then,” Dees asked.
Lewis replied that he had answered Dees’ question.
“No, you’ve beat around the bush,” Dees said.
Jessie Box Author