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Clarksville Montgomery County Planning Commission grievance answered by Director Dr. David Ripple

Employees Voice Safety Concerns

Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Planning CommissionClarksville, TN – A grievance filed by an employee at the Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Planning Commission has raised safety concerns among several other employees.

John Stanley Williams filed a grievance on March 20th 2013, with Dr. David Ripple, Planning Commission Director, aimed at RPC employee, Audrea Smithson, claiming a “hostile” work environment and preferential treatment.  In his grievance, he claims that Smithson has been  treated more favorably for sick leave, and personal days that she has taken. 

In his grievance, Williams admits to keeping a journal on Smithson that documents her hours at work, sick leave, and even chronicles when she entered and left the building. Williams admits that he kept this running diary on RPC computers, but according to Ripple, the files have been deleted.

Williams was reprimanded last year for submitting fraudulent expense reports from business trips he had made, and was ordered to repay the RPC $835.13 in overcharges.  He was also docked vacation days and not eligible for a pay raise during the current fiscal year.

Williams has not been available for comment as records indicate he is on vacation.

Dr. Ripple conducted an investigation, in response to the grievance, of Smithson’s payroll records, and time sheets and determined that there was an oversight by Smithson on three days, for which she did not claim annual or sick leave and was not penalized by loss in pay.  Ripple determined that Smithson would be assessed 16 hours of annual leave time on the appropriate hourly rate in effect on the three dates that were in question.  Smithson is appealing 8 of those hours.

The grievance culminates a pattern of hostility between Williams and Smithson that exploded in front of both Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers and Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan at last weeks planning commission meeting.  Williams had made some accusations during the meeting about not being involved in the 2012 budget process while Smithson was Interim Director.  Smithson denied those claims during the meeting.  Afterwards, the two got into a heated argument in the hallway of the Regional Planning Commission offices.

Sources tell Clarksville Online that both mayors expressed their displeasure over the behavior of Smithson, but made no reference to Williams.  Williams pursued Mayor Bowers after the meeting for an opportunity to tell her his story, and Dr. Ripple stepped between he and the mayor and told him it was inappropriate for him to be speaking to Bowers about internal issues.

Neither mayor has the authority to affect employment issues or personnel matters within the RPC. Only the director has that power.

Today, Smithson, Judy Burkhart and Jill Hall had a meeting with Dr. Ripple and expressed their safety concerns when Williams  returns from vacation on Monday. Ripple confirmed to Clarksville Online that they had expressed their fears and said he was working with Human Resources about what to do.  In the short term, Ripple said he would separate the men and women at the office, and change the security protocol between offices to keep the employees separated.  No other action was indicated.

Smithson tells Clarksville Online that she is very concerned about Williams.

“I am very concerned about a man who is willing to throw away his career this way, by making these accusations and admitting to keeping a diary on me.  I told Dr. Ripple about my concerns” she said.

Smithson also told Clarksville Online that she had had enough of William’s lies during last week’s meeting and lost her temper.  She doesn’t remember what was said between the two and regrets the incident.

“I’ve had enough of his lies and am not going to keep being accused of things that aren’t true. I wish the confrontation hadn’t occurred but I have had enough of him” Smithson said. “I should have known better, but enough is enough already.”

Ripple is expected to address the argument at a later date, and told Clarksville Online, “If this were any other environment other than a government office, and I behaved the way they behaved, I would have been shown the door.”

Williams can appeal Ripple’s decision to the Executive Committee if he is not satisfied with the results of the investigation.

Hank Bonecutter
Hank Bonecutterhttp://www.clarksvillesmotorcycle.com/
Hank Bonecutter is a retired broadcaster and media consultant based in Clarksville, Tennessee. His career includes stints at WKDA/WKDF and WKQB Rock 106FM, WLAC-AM in Nashville. He concluded his career as owner/talk show host at WJZM-AM in Clarksville. Currently the President of Bonehead Promotions, he's an advertising consultant and media strategist. An avid motorcyclist, Hank blogs about his travels exclusively at www.clarksvillemotorcycle.com and www.clarksvilleonline.com You can follow Hank on on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dodgintheroadkill/, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/?lang=en, and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/dodgetheroadkill/?hl=en  

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