July 13, 2006
Claims of discrimination and harassment have swirled around Augusta's Recreation and Parks Department for years.
Today, commissioners scheduled a meeting to hear from employees making the claims.
The employees showed up...but commissioners did not.
Those Parks and Rec. employees did not leave happy today.
We've told you about all of the allegations, many documented in the form of grievances. (For links to our previous stories, see the end of this article.)
Today was going to be the first time employees and city leaders would meet to sort things out.
But there were a few important people missing.
"Somebody give us an answer," said Patricia Strackosch, a 17-year Parks and Rec. employee. "Why is there nobody here to see this documentation and to hear the facts?"
Right now, you could say its more frustration than anger consuming these Augusta employees.
"We're not out there doing it the wrong way, going to court, filing suit," Strackosch said. "Will we have to do that? It depends on this governing body."
After years of allegations of racial and gender discrimination in the Recreation and Parks Department, commissioners requested that employees who've filed grievances meet with them to voice their concerns. The problem is, only one of four commissioners on the committee showed up to listen.
"Why they didn't show up, I don't understand," said commissioner Marion Williams. "I know these employees are upset. I know they feel the commission don't care about them."
"I'm just disappointed that they don't feel that my side is valid or want to take any time to listen to my side and see if there's any truth to it," said 25-year employee Melinda Moody.
Stan Brown came to talk about what he calls unfair hiring practices. He says he has a doctorate degree, but after eight years, he still cuts grass for the city. He says department head Tom Beck won't promote him.
"I've applied for over 20 jobs that require a degree, and he has promoted people that don't have the degree, experience, or the combination of the two," Brown said.
After waiting for over an hour, we decided to make some calls and ask the commissioners why they didn't show up.
"I got certain things I have to do on certain days and I'm just not available today," said commissioner Jerry Brigham.
And that was what the others had to say as well...leaving the meeting cancelled, and these employees rolling away their complaints for another day.
"I am not going away; I am not going to be intimidated; I am going to move forward," Strackosch said.
There is no word yet on when this meeting will be rescheduled.