Lott hears Strang appeal; must act within 10 days

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- After a five-hour hearing Tuesday, City Manager Alfred Lott has begun deliberating the fate of an assistant city attorney who has been recommended for termination for a variety of alleged offenses, including working for another city while on city of Albany time.

City Attorney Nathan Davis recommended that Assistant City Attorney Kathy Strang be fired in May after what he said in a termination letter was negligence, misconduct and inefficiency.

Strang is appealing Davis' recommendation to City Manager Alfred Lott, who under the city charter has the ultimate authority to hire or fire city employees.

On Tuesday, Lott heard from Davis and Strang, as well as a list of other witnesses.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, who was in the hearing, said that Lott will make a determination on Strang's fate within the next 10 days.

"Mr. Lott has a maximum of 10 days to uphold the recommendation or to modify it," Smith said. "Each case stands on its own merits and will be determined accordingly."

The hearing, which lasted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, is the latest in an ongoing set of incidents within the city attorney's office.

First, Davis was suspended and reprimanded by the City Commission after a handgun and knife were found by Strang in a desk drawer in his city office.

The commission then investigated a grievance filed by Strang against Davis and the city, during which they interviewed each staff member in the city attorney's office, including Davis and Strang.

After two executive sessions, the commission took no action.

One week later, Davis filed his recommendation for termination against Strang, alleging, among other things, that Strang missed a court appearance for a civil matter for personal reasons and was performing legal work for another city in violation of the city's personnel policy.

The issues have also brought to light conflicts between the city attorney, who is an appointee of the City Commission and answerable only to that board, and the city manager, who also is answerable to only the City Commission, over who has the right to punish the subordinates of an appointee.

Currently, the charter gives Lott the authority to determine Strang's fate, but it also grants Davis, who unlike city department heads doesn't answer to Lott, the authority to merely recommend termination -- just like a city department head.

Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Pike has asked Davis to prepare an agenda item for an upcoming meeting to allow for discussion of possibly amending the charter to clarify the roles and responsibilities of both the city manager and city attorney.