Coffee County Scandal

That headline just does not compute for me.  My father grew up in Kinston, which to my amazement actually has its own Wikipedia entry, and it would be hard to find a quieter place. We visited my grandmother there until she moved to Dothan when she was 95. (She was 103 when she died, so if I got her genes I might be here for a while.)

Anyway, back to the, gulp, scandal.  It seems the DHR director for Coffee County, Brandon Hardin, wanted to get rid of the local DHR Board chair, Doug Donaldson, who wanted him fired, so Hardin threatened to fire a social worker with whom Donaldson was supposedly romantically involved.

Got all that?  It’s what is alleged in a lawsuit filed by Cheryl Hancock, the social worker whose job was on the line, and it looks like there are taped conversations to back up her allegations.  She has sued Hardin, former state DHR Commissioner Page Walley, and DHR General Counsel Sharon Ficquette.  Walley resigned effective September 1 to take a position as managing director with the Casey Family Programs.

The Eagle has obtained two audio conversations, one being a phone conversation between Donaldson and a man who identifies himself as State Deputy Finance Director Andy Hornsby. During the conversation, (Hornsby) says he is calling as a friend to Donaldson and as a favor to then-State DHR director Page Walley. Later in the conversation, Hornsby, who is a former DHR state commissioner, tells Donaldson that Hancock will not be fired if he resigns from the board.

I’m sure the defendants will use the Palin ExcuseTM that the Powers That Be had no idea what their minions were up to, at least until they’re forced to issue a Palin RetractionTM.

Partial transcript of the conversation after the jump:

Portions of the seven-minute conversation [between Donaldson and Andy Hornsby] are included below:

AH “They would be willing to hold up on the firing and transfer her elsewhere if you would step down as county board chair, and they said that is what they would like to see happen.

DD Why?

AH Well …

DD Would it be because of the threat I received from the attorney, the DHR attorney?

AH … I know the attorney and I guess it is the woman, isn’t it? Uh, (Sharon) Ficquette, and, you know, they have a lot of allegations that apparently they are going to bring out Wednesday about involvements down there and everything, so …

AH … I just have told you what they told me. They said, uh, a lot of allegations about improper involvements with people and your divorce comes up and everything else

DD What does my divorce have to do with her job?

AH Some, some and you know everything about this Cheryl Hancock, and they’ve got a lot of information they’re going to present on Wednesday that could cause you embarrassment and could cause Miss Hancock embarrassment, likely going to get in the newspaper and all of that and they would like to see all of that — Page would — settled in an amicable fashion.

DD Why hasn’t he called me?

AH Page doesn’t like to get involved in all of this. That’s why he asked me. That’s a good question Doug.

AH They asked me would I talk to you about the possibility of you stepping down as board chair in consideration that she gets transferred and not fired.

DD That’s not for me to say. I can’t answer that question today.

AH You have control over whether you serve as board chair or not and they have control over whether she gets fired or not.

AH I don’t know whether any of these matters are valid or not, but these matters are going to get in the paper and the press covers these meetings and things, and it’s going to hit.


3 Responses to “Coffee County Scandal”

  1. Almod says:

    Ah… Birmingham! Where the scandals are simple and easy to understand!

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