For many years, small town governments have gotten away with wrongdoing against its residents and employees. Mainly because people looked the other way, it is overdue for residents in Millington to stop ignoring what is not right and start speaking up. If not with your VOICE with your VOTE. I have been doing both for many years in Millington. I feel responsible for Rhonda O’Dell losing her job. She is not the only friend I have working for the City of Millington. Last year the Mayor tried to fire one of friends who is an employee for the city. Fortunately, that did not happen because the sabotage committed was so apparent, the city would have faced a lawsuit. I want to say the following to the employees that reads this blog. “It is time to STOP sabotaging other employees when it comes to their job! It is time to STOP spying on others and running back to tell on them to ingratiate with management! Think about how you will feel it is happening to you! ” The way employees are acting around here lately, I am starting to believe there is a reward like this one out, if employees are seen talking to anyone.
For years, I have been trying to get the City of Millington to stop putting a band-aid on the drainage issue in the public housing area in Greenhill. None of us would want to deal with rising water when there is a heavy rain. None of us would want our small children walking through water that comes to their ankle to get to school (That is what the children in that area who attends E. A. Harold Elementary had to do on more than a few occasions over the years). I made the problem in that area known to former Mayor Jones and Mayor Hodges. Jones completely ignored it and Hodges was trying to ignore it.
Federal, state and local governments have passed a law and regulations to address the problem of polluted runoff. The City of Millington passed in June 2006 Ordinance -2006-8 Storm Water, residents and businesses started paying stormwater fees in August 2006. The City of Millington started collected stormwater fees during the Jones administration, but a Stormwater Utility Division within the Planning Department was not created until Hodges took office January 2009. This is where Rhonda O’Dell comes in. Hodges removed Rhonda as Executive Assistant and had her head and implement the Stormwater Utility Division.
Look at Ordinance -2006-8 Storm Water Section 2 (Creation of Stormwater Utility) it detail some of Rhonda’s duties as Millington’s first Stormwater Manager. In Section 3 (Definitions) 14 and 15 it clearly states what is considered stormwater and the stormwater fund was created to operate, maintain, and improve the City’s stormwater system. Finally, Section 5 (Storm water utility special revenue fund) clearly states the revenue fund shall be kept in an account separate from other accounts of the City of Millington. Nowhere in the Stormwater Ordinance it states stormwater revenue can be used to purchase equipment for the Public Works Department that is NOT stormwater related.
After the passage of Ordinance -2006-8, I thought for sure the city would stop using not having funds as an excuse to address the drainage problem in that area. After witnessing the Public Works Department being approved monthly for something and stormwater funds was used to pay for it since Mayor Hodges took office. I began question the funds being spent from the stormwater account and addressed the Greenhill issue again. The Mayor developed amnesia about my concern of the drainage problem in the Greenhill area.
I contacted Millington’s State Representative, Barbara Cooper, to share my concerns about this matter and I contacted Millington’s Stormwater Manger Rhonda O’Dell in July 2010 to find out if her department was doing anything in that area and what capital improvement projects stormwater funds were spent on. Representative Cooper contacted the Mayor’s office and instead of Rhonda contacting me back, this (click to review) email exchange initiated by Mayor Hodges began. To this date, I have not received clearance to review the stormwater fund account.
Rhonda O’Dell HELL was about to get worse after this blowup at the December 2010 MBA meeting. I guess since the Mayor could not take it out on me he took it out on Rhonda for providing me information after she received approval from her boss to give me the information. Although we were friends, when it came to her position with the City of Millington, Rhonda was a professional. I did not need her to feed me information, when I needed public information; I did what I always do. I go to the City Clerk or to the Department that holds the information I am seeking. I must have hit a nerve with this administration because in February I was the subject of this email. Can you believe this happened to a taxpaying citizen!
Rhonda, was not only an employee for the City of Millington, she is a taxpaying resident. She has been attending the MBA meeting on regular basis. I did not believe her in the beginning when she said she was going to start attending the meeting as a resident when Hodges won the election. At the beginning of this year, I start noticing one of the Aldermen asking her about Stormwater reports during the MBA meetings because the were not receiving them. Mind you, Rhonda is there on her own time, she provides a report to her boss when asked. I was noticing an act of sabotage towards Rhonda, the same way the Mayor was trying to sabotage my friend of last year…it was the classic giving the appearance of an employee not doing their job rouse.
Rhonda took her Stormwater position seriously and did it professionally. She learned everything she could and put together Millington’s Stormwater Utility Division single handily. It was Rhonda who collaborated with the City of Boulder Colorado and brought H2O Jo and Flo to Millington. Rhonda sat on the Board of Director of TN Stormwater Association. Rhonda also, provided and entered all the information on Millington’s website about stormwater. (Look before it disappears, because it is mentioned in this blog). Rhonda did her job and it is wrong how people who have an agenda are spreading rumors around town. I am sure the gold city vehicle was seen in a neighborhood near you, parked somewhere taking pictures of problem stormwater areas. If the problem areas are not repaired, it is not Rhonda’s fault. She did not approve the money or write the checks. Her duty was to identify problem areas around town forward the information to her boss and then to the Public Works Department at the instruction of her boss. She also went around town to make sure businesses and construction sites were not in violation of the stormwater ordinance.
Rhonda took a stand and she paid for it with her job. (That is why city employees are fearful and are in knots.) People need their jobs and the administration knows it. The word was out about the email instructing Department Directors not to reply to any of my emails, they were instructed to forward my emails to the Mayor. (I wonder if any other citizen was subjected that) The Directors informed their employees of the Mayor’s email. However, I learned about it the day it happened because I received a copy of it in my mail box. Denying city employees (who are paid with my tax dollars) to communicate via email with a resident is peek of this administration preventing transparency. If this is the kind of tactics used against a citizen, one can only imagine what employees have to endure. The Mayor would be surprise of know how many people contacts me that are not the people he knows are friends that works for the City of Millington. (RELAX…I am not revealing names ) Rhonda was doing nothing wrong she was tired of walking on eggshells during her final years working for former Jones, she did not start with Mayor Hodges, she took a stand long before others start noticing. As a citizen, not an employee Rhonda began speaking at the MBA meetings. After coming from a TDEC stormwater training in April, Rhonda informed the Mayor, City Engineer (her boss), and the Finance Director by email of improper use of stormwater funds. I believe that was the final nail in her coffin. Unbeknown to Rhonda, her April 2011 email referenced the section 5 in Ordinance 2006-8 that I brought to the attention of the Mayor in July 2010 and Board of Aldermen during the December 2010 MBA meeting. I seen and heard how Rhonda was being treated and ostracized up to the time her position was wiped off the Finance Director PowerPoint slide during the FY12 working budget sessions. The Mayor was smoooooth in how he did away with Rhonda’s job. He had the Aldermen to do his dirty work, with his famous saying when he do not want it to appear it is what he wants, “I have no vote in this, it is up to the Board.” Not one Aldermen talked to Rhonda about what she do in her job before the budget was finalized. You had to be there to believe it, everyone in the chambers during that budget working session except Rhonda and I knew her position was being eliminated. Rhonda took it like a pro, she looked over at me across the aisle and asked, “Did they just eliminated my position?” All I could do was look at her and say, “Yeeesss.”
I expected Rhonda to be mad as hell and blow up about her position when we left the meeting, but she was not. I do not think I could have accepted what happened like she did. She said, “Whoever have to do this job behind me will not have a problem because I have it set up to where they can walk right in and do the job.” Honestly, I could not believe how calm she was in this economy to become unemployed without receiving notice. Mayor Hodges almost broke his neck to catch me before I left the next budget working session meeting. My son was about to grab my tape recorder until he saw the Mayor make a mad dash my way, he decided to let it keep running.
Mayor Hodges said, “I had to get rid of Rhonda’s position because she was not doing her job.” I seen that look and heard that reason/excuse when he wanted to fire a friend of mine last year. Mayor Hodges, wanted Rhonda gone, her last day was supposed to be the last day in June. Instead, he came to her office on June 20 inflicted emotional abuse for two hours accusing her of feeding me information, speaking at the MBA meeting, and commenting on my blog. Rhonda had to take the rest of the day off. That was the only time I saw Rhonda upset since we witnessed her job being eliminated. I told her that day, “Everything happens for a reason, when one door closes another one opens. Remember this, God don’t like ugly because in the end those who sow bad seeds will reap a bad harvest.” The next day, June 21, Mayor Hodges accompany by Personnel Director met Rhonda when she arrived to her office. Rhonda instructed to back up her stuff and leave before she could warm up her seat. That is what this administration does. They throw accusations at a person that is far off base from the truth. For an example, the MPD Chief once accused me of feeding the press information, he drew his conclusion based on the fact I know people in the press and I freelance for the press. I have a blog, why would I need to go to the press I wanted something exposed, I can write about it here and why would Rhonda have to feed me information when I know how to get information. Breaking News…it takes only a phone call or email to the media from any John or Jane Doe, if there is a story…the media is going to report or print it. Funny, from what’s been in the media lately, the people in their inner circle and who is enjoying cozy relationships ones spilling the beans.
I am not trying to convince anyone one way or another because people are going to believe what they want from the rumors/lies being spread about Rhonda O’Dell. I can only provide documentation and talk about what I personally know to show Rhonda O’Dell was a loyal and professional employee for the City of Millington. It is okay for those who enjoy a cozy relationship with the administration to do as they please and reap the rewards of a decent salary. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the majority of employees who actually work their butts off and are underpaid. Rhonda made less than the current Executive Assistant when she was an Executive Assistant and she was making less than the current Executive Assistant as the Stormwater Manager. Rhonda O’Dell, built the Stormwater Utility division detailed in Ordinance 2006-8 from the ground to where it is now. Maybe knowing this fact will squash the rumor about how she enjoyed a big salary during the past administration and the present. She definitely can relate to the underpaid employees of the City of Millington.
This my TRUTH on Rhonda O’Dell…not a RUMOR or a LIE!
There was a Special Called Meeting Tuesday at 5:00 for the following:
1. Selecting a Presiding Officer
2. Consideration of Amendment 1 to the agreement with the Department of Agriculture to increase the grant for stream debris removal by $146,461.50. The City’s cost will be an additional $14,646.15.
3. Consider a change order to increase the current contracts for stream debris removal by $146.461.50
Highlight of the meeting…The meeting lasted less than 10 minutes Alderman Morgan was seven minutes late and Alderman Pike was a no-show. Alderman Brown tried to take the lead as if he was in charge until Alderman Carruthers interceded and nominated Alderman Barger as Presiding Officer (good call) Lowery, Brown, and Ford all approved. Items on the agenda passed and Aldermen Brown on queue closed the meeting in 0.1 seconds.