Yet more Parks and Rec. employees speak out about Beck

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

Augusta city leaders are sitting down again with Recreation and Parks employees.

They're investigating claims of discrimination and harassment within the department.

Some employees in the Parks and Rec. department say the same old stuff has been going on for years.

Wednesday, July 26, six more workers spoke before a commission subcommittee, telling them why they feel what's going on in the department is simply unfair.

It's the latest phase of an ongoing investigation in one of Augusta's largest departments

"It's the truth," said 24-year employee Joyce Downs. "I've been there, I've seen it happen, and it's not fair."

More Parks and Rec. employees came before city leaders with claims of discrimination and harassment.

"There's a lot of stress, a lot of tears, and a lot of anger," said manager Joanie Smith.

While their grievances vary, they all point to department head Tom Beck.

Most are female employees alleging Beck has consistently promoted his friends and other males who were not qualified, while doubling their responsibilities with no compensation.

"I said, 'What about my experience? Does that matter? The number of years I've been here?' He said, 'Longevity doesn't have anything to do with it.' I said, 'Mr. Beck, it should have something to do with it'," said Downs.

Smith says Beck told her it was his "executive privilege" to promote his friends.

"He will tell you, 'Get out of my office'," she said.

When we spoke to Beck back when the investigation started, he denied the allegations.

While these employees' claims represent only one side of the story, some city leaders say similar complaints, along with documents employees have presented, lead them to believe Beck is to blame.

"When you run across stuff that's wrong and we know it's wrong, you can't just turn your back and say I'll get to it later," said commissioner Marion Williams. "That needs to stop today, this day."

"We've got a lot of work to do to get our house in order," said Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Wednesday was supposed to be the final meeting to hear from employees, but because more have asked to speak, another meeting has been scheduled.

After that, Tom Beck will have a chance to respond to all of the claims.

At both this meeting and the previous one, the employees said the grievances they filed went nowhere.

Several of the employees were able to show grievance after grievance they filed. HR was not able to give an answer as to why they were not responded to.

The committee will meet again next Wednesday, August 2, to hear more complaints.


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