Collins, Smoot Off Attending to Other Business as 900 Face Layoffs

Jefferson County Commissioners Bettye Fine Collins and Shelia Smoot chose to leave the state this week “tending to other groups they represent”, even as 900+ county employees got the news that they would lose their paychecks effective today.

Both commissioners’ staff members refused to disclose their whereabouts.  What is it with that?  They’re public officials, accountable to the public.  They have no business instructing their staff people to withhold that information.

Not to be deterred, Birmingham News reporters tracked down Collins in San Diego, registered under her maiden name, where she was attending a Republican National Committee meeting.  When contacted, her first question was, “How did you find me?”

Smoot was in Nashville to attend a National Association of Counties convention.  I sure hope other attendees were able to give her some pointers on good governance.  She returned to town on Wednesday, and, according to a very persistent commenter at al.com, intercepted the layoff letters that were to be delivered to the Information and Technology Department, one of her fiefdoms.  No idea why; perhaps she hopes to keep all of the staff to maintain the county’s new website.

Both Smoot and Collins are being excoriated in comments at al.com (not a place you want to visit unless you’re planning to shower immediately thereafter).  Me?  I don’t  care that they left town to attend events that were planned months ago, although the appearance is terrible.  [ETA:  Yeah, I do care, based on Bill's comment below.  It's just shitty for the bosses to go out of town and leave everyone else to deal with the fallout.  Smoot got back in town on Wednesday, so she's at least in the county.]  I do care very much that they told their staffs to withhold that information from the press and public.

And I’m still waiting to hear that they and their fellow commissioners will take steep pay cuts in solidarity with the employees who are losing their jobs and livelihoods.  Any suggestions on how long I should hold my breath?

7 Responses to “Collins, Smoot Off Attending to Other Business as 900 Face Layoffs”

  1. Bill says:

    Me? I don’t care that they left town to attend events that were planned months ago, although the appearance is terrible.

    I have to disagree with you on this one. Large layoffs are a painful thing that sometimes happen. However, even when though such events are sometimes necessary, the boss has to have the guts to face her/his employees and give them the news while trying to be as supportive as possible.

    To go on boondoggles and/or to address “other responsibilities” while this is happening is shitty governance, shitty supervising and shitty being a decent human being.

  2. Del says:

    All I could think when I read your second paragraph was “the Appalachian Trail.”

  3. Kathy says:

    Bill, you’re absolutely right. I didn’t think of it that way. Smoot is at least here in town today, although who knows if she’s in the office; Collins’ important Republican meeting in San Diego goes through tomorrow.

    Del, :)

  4. Speaking of comments on al.com… Apparently, Collins has started pulling the ol’ Troy King trick of having people on staff post comments on threads. I forget the post, but someone got nailed last week. The person was basically responding as you’d imaging BFC to respond to various comments, and they were stupid enough to divulge some information that only someone from her office would know. It was so obvious that one regular commenter was contacted by her mother (who also works in that office) to make sure she wasn’t giving out info that she wasn’t supposed to. That commenter came on there and made very sure to specify that she wasn’t the other person and that the information wasn’t coming from her mother. Of course, the first person denied that they worked for BFC, but they were a little too persistent in responding to comments for someone not directly involved.

  5. Jim says:

    Good comment about the Commission needing to take a pay cut. Happy to give you a private update if you wish.

  6. Kathy says:

    AlMod, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Too bad the commenter didn’t feel free to say, “I work for BFC, and here’s what’s really going on,” or something like that. I suppose BFC, Troy King, et al, want to appear to remain above the fray while they send their minions to fight their battles. Just like pre-internet days. :)

    Jim, I’d love a private update — thanks!

    birminghambluesATbellsouthDOTnet

  7. Helen says:

    Jefferson County residents: please keep calling your legislators to push them to come up with at least a temporary solution to the crisis. They can address all the other issues later.

    It’s not just employees, especially lower wage earners, who will suffer–the effects will ripple out and hurt us all.

Leave a Reply