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Strang complaint alleges retaliation

ALBANY, Ga. -- An assistant city attorney fighting to keep her job after allegations have arisen that she was negligent in performing her duties contends she was retaliated against for reporting that City Attorney Nathan Davis had a gun and knife in his desk, according to a grievance provided to the Herald Friday.

Kathy Strang has been suspended with pay pending a decision by City Manager Alfred Lott on whether to uphold Davis' recommendation to fire her.

Davis recommended she be fired based on what he contends are negligence, unprofessionalism and improper behavior in her position as assistant city attorney. Davis also contends that that Strang was working for another city while on the clock for the city of Albany and without permission in violation of the city policy.

In the grievance provided to The Herald Friday, Strang alleges that Davis and the city violated her First Amendment rights by targeting her for retribution after she alerted city human resources officials that Davis had a gun in his desk drawer.

A subsequent investigation by the City Commission resulted in Davis being suspended for three days without pay beginning April 21.

Strang, who filed the grievance with the city on May 6, contends that Davis requested Strang's immediate resignation based on her alleged contributions to growing office discord during a May 5 meeting with the city's equal employment opportunity manager.

In the grievance, Strang implies that Davis was guilty of a misdemeanor when he was caught with the gun in a publicly owned building and that because she reported the weapons presence to city officials, she became the victim of harassment from her colleagues within the office and from Davis.

She further contends that Davis has shown a preference towards Janiece Smith in how he has divided the case load, granted training opportunities and in general demeanor.

She also accuses Davis of falsely blaming her in front of city employees for the destruction of evidence and documents related to a city legal matter. She contends it was Davis who inadvertently destroyed the evidence.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said Friday that he couldn't comment on the grievance or Strang's appeal, saying both were personnel matters, but did say that he believed Lott was close to making a determination.

The drama surrounding the city attorney's office has highlighted, and some say aggravated, the delineation of power between that office and the office of the city manager.

Under the city charter, all city of Albany employees work ultimately at the discretion of the city manager. But Davis, who is an appointee of the City Commission, can only be fired, disciplined or rewarded by act of the majority of the commission.

Davis' subordinates -- Strang included -- answer ultimately to Lott, not Davis, which has added a degree of friction to the situation.

Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Pike has initiated steps to review the charter's provisions regarding the roles, responsibilities and powers of each office during an upcoming commission meeting.