City works to improve morale – Rocky Mount Telegram

Rocky Mount’s top administrator is meeting with the city’s middle management to address low morale.

In a review summary presented last month, the law firm Nexsen Pruet found no wrongdoing on behalf of City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney. The independent auditors did find low morale among the city’s mid-level employees.

“Mid-level managers have stated they feel excluded and uninformed,” according to a flyer emailed to employees Wednesday afternoon and shared with the Telegram by an employee who asked to remain anonymous.

Attendees will be able to discuss their concerns, priorities and more, according to the flyer.

“Managers are encouraged to have an open and honest conversation with the city manager only,” the flyer states. “Assistant city managers and department heads will not be in attendance.” (Read more)


Rocky Mount City Manager Findings To Be Shared Monday During The City Council Meeting

Rocky Mount City Manager findings to be shared on Monday evening, I trust and believe it will be in favor of Rochelle Small -Toney.

When you have all of these Ignant Special Cs and a couple of Ignant Safe Black folk trying to lynch and discredit Small-Toney, I know God is going to show favor on this lady who has had to deal with the deaths of her parents back to back within a months time. These folk had no respect for her while she was going through.

Folk come out and witness how those folk who have been attending the meetings acting like fools will leave agitated once again because these ignants have lost every fight thus far. I just don’t believe he will fail us this time and we will get the victory. But even if the report come back not in Small-Toney’s favor, what could happen? I believe if something is found, the only thing that could happen would be to put some corrective actions in place. I don’t believe it will be anything to be able to fire her since that is what these ignant have been calling for since December consistently. However they have been trying to give her hell every since she has began her career here in Rocky Mount.

Audits are to make things better. I believe Rochelle Small-Toney would welcome constructive criticism. We will see on Monday.

Wow! Unbelievable! First Day In A Many Of Days No Negative Article In The Rocky Mount Telegram About Black City Council Members And/Or City Staff

First day in a many of days that there is no negative article in the Rocky Mount Telegram about the Rocky Mount Black city council members and/or city staff.

Oh I am quite sure they are waiting on the audit report. Sure hope that turns out well because I want to see how the Special Cs move forward after all of this.

I hope the findings turn out in favor of all of those whom have been accused of mess by the Special Cs whose mission is to remove Councilmen Andre Knight and Reuben Blackwell along with the City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney and some staff members.

I am quite sure there may be some findings but I hope they are something that can be a teachable moment and steps put in place to critique how the city move forward.

However in spite of all that has been going on the lynching of certain black folk even some community activist including myself, that this be a wake up call for unconscious black folk who have no clue of what is going on because all they are hearing is the Special Cs pushing their mission. The Special Cs try to silence anyone who call them out on their b.s. Them cowards are something else.

But God is good and he has not brought us this far to leave us.

Waiting on audit report so we can move forward.

City emails shine light on secrets – Rocky Mount Telegram

The Political Agitator’s response: Anyone know that governmental emails, emails in the workplace and other are subject to be released if questions arise. Now this is just ignant to have these conversations via email. I will continue to wait to see how it all unfolds.

Rocky Mount officials are mum on city manager emails about withholding information from the press, secret money, replacing federal paperwork, relief that auditors didn’t find certain files and more.

“The Auditor pulled that file and thankfully he did not pull others!! It probably would have been worse!!!” City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney states in an Aug. 12 email to a city staff member.

That email is a sampling of hundreds of electronic communications the Telegram has compiled over the past several weeks. The emails were obtained via public record requests with inquires about the subject matter made last week.

City officials declined to answer any of the questions, with Tameka Kenan-Norman, the city’s chief communications officer, citing an ongoing investigation as to the reason why no answers were provided.

“A majority of your questions address those areas currently being investigated. We will not provide comment while the investigation is underway,” Kenan-Norman said via email Friday afternoon.

She didn’t specify which investigation to which she is referring.

Mayor David Combs called for a law firm to conduct an independent investigation into alleged malfeasance at City Hall. Simultaneously, the Office of the State Auditor is probing the same areas by serving subpoenas and interviewing past and present city employees. (Read more)

Tom Rogers, Mayor Pro Tem’s statement from Jan. 28 Rocky Mount City Council meeting:

City of Rocky Mount, NC Gov. Offices

Tom Rogers, Mayor Pro Tem’s statement from Jan. 28 Rocky Mount City Council meeting:

The City Council has authorized an independent, in-depth review into matters that it has identified relative to the activities of the city manager and leadership of our city, including employee morale, employee turnover, compensation practices, hiring practices, financial management – including HUD’s relationship with Rocky Mount – and any other items that may be identified.

This review will begin immediately and proceed with speed, thoroughness and objectivity. The final report will be utilized by the City Council to determine fair and appropriate steps in this matter.

To employees: We deeply value your commitment and service to the citizens of Rocky Mount. We know this is a time of uncertainty, and we pledge to do all we can to stabilize your work environment.

To the citizens of Rocky Mount: We know that you have questions, and we feel your concern. We take all matters of this city – especially the current situation – with the utmost seriousness. We commit to take the necessary steps to resolve this matter expeditiously and in a way that continues the forward momentum and excitement that is underway in Rocky Mount.

We remain supportive of an equitable, inclusive and supporting environment for everyone.

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Mayor David Combs statement from Jan. 28 Rocky Mount City Council meeting:

City of Rocky Mount, NC Gov. Offices

Mayor David Combs statement from Jan. 28 Rocky Mount City Council meeting:

Thank you all for being here this afternoon. At our called meeting last week, I know some of you were disappointed that I did not comment. Since the council and I were dealing with a personnel issue and no action was taken, I was advised by the city attorney not to make any comments. However, as your mayor, I feel a need to make some comments today before we move to our next agenda item.

I have gotten numerous calls from people that feel like as mayor I can just make the decision to hire or fire the city manager, so I want to take a moment to explain how the city operates.

First, everyone needs to understand that the City Council does not run the city on a day-to-day basis. The City Council sets policy and approves the annual budget. In addition, the City Council may approve or disapprove of agenda items that come before them at a City Council meeting. When it comes to personnel, the City Council is involved only in the hiring or firing of the city manager, the city clerk and the city attorney. The final action with respect to other hiring and firing decisions rests with the city manager. As mayor and council, we explicitly are not allowed to be involved in Human Resource decisions. We operate this way as part of our city policy and city charter.

As mayor, most of you know that I preside at City Council meetings, but I do not have the right to vote unless required to break a tie. In my 11 years as your mayor, I cannot recall voting on a single matter. It is also true that any motion made by a councilmember requires a second and needs at least four votes to pass. However, I will tell you that probably 98 percent of the items that have been brought before this council for approval in my 11 years have been approved by a unanimous vote. We are a diverse city, and our councilmembers represent this diversity. While councilmembers represent the wards that elected them, they also make decisions that are in the best interest of the entire city.

I know that all the city councilmembers, as well as myself, have been listening to citizens’ concerns over the last two weeks. Citizen input is extremely important to all of us.

Please be aware that any decision made in regard to the city manager will not be made because of newspaper articles or social media posts but will be based on facts.

Our city manager, Rochelle Small-Toney, was the former city manager of Savannah. Some have questioned issues surrounding her former employment. The council was aware of these issues. Before hiring Mrs. Small-Toney, an investigation of these issues occurred. The council sent a retired police chief to Savannah to conduct an in-depth investigation. His finding indicated that any accusations were not substantiated. His investigation concluded that the issues were political in nature and not due to any real wrong doings.

When Mrs. Small-Toney was hired, she was the first city manager in at least 50 years who was not hired from within the city. At the time the manager’s position was posted, we did not have any internal candidates. Her selection by the council was based on many factors, including her 35 years of local government experience with hopes that she could bring new ideas and proven management practices to our city.

As far as some of the issues that the newspaper has highlighted, most of them are well within the scope of her job, such as:

1) The Police Chief Search -we have used the same method in the past. The final decision has always been made by the city manager. The process does not call for the assessment team to make recommendations. Team members score each candidate on different exercises that the candidate must complete. At the end of this process, each candidate has a final score. At no time in the process is there a final recommendation given by the assessment team.

2) The next one … Hiring City Employees -While everyone might not agree with some of the city manager’s decisions on the people she has hired for her team, these decisions are well within the scope of her role as city manager. When former city managers Steve Raper and Charles Penny were here, they both made hiring decisions about assistant city managers and department heads without consulting the city council.

3) The supposed Discrimination Law Suit- There was never a lawsuit as the newspaper’s headline alleged – the city did work out a settlement agreement with an employee, John Jesso, but there was not a lawsuit.

4) The Renovations – The council approved a budget this year that included some renovations to city hall. There has been a lot of deferred maintenance on city hall over the past years, especially during the recession, and there were repairs that needed to be done. Some of those repairs were needed in the city manager’s office and assistant manager’s offices. However, again the council does not make those decisions but would have approved overall renovations to City Hall in their 2019 Budget.

With all that said as your mayor, I have two major concerns.

1) City Employees and Moral- First, I want to assure our city employees that we expect our manager to create an employment atmosphere of collaboration and not intimidation. Each and every employee needs an opportunity for professional growth and a pathway to promotion. I am concerned that we have lost a number of employees with years of experience over the last year.

2) Has too much damage been done? I am not sure any city manager could be effective after this relentless media pressure. I believe that having the public’s trust is critical in managing the operations of the city, and when that trust is lost by employees and the public, it would be almost impossible to recover.

My last remark has to do with all of the positive things that are happening in our community. The city, along with other economic partners, have worked hard to bring new economic development and businesses to our area. Over the last year, I have gotten many unsolicited comments from people about how positive they feel about Rocky Mount and its future – better than they have felt in many years.

Unfortunately,16 straight days of negative press and an untold number of negative social media posts cannot be good for our city. Please, for the sake of our collective growth and prosperity …. press the pause button. Take a deep breath before you speak or write. Posting negative comments about your city is NOT going to help resolve this personnel issue. But, I can predict what it WILL DO. It will make it more difficult to retain and to recruit business and families to our community.

I know these are real concerns. I am not discounting any of them or your valuable input. Know this. I am equally concerned. But going forward as your mayor and council, we have to be careful that any decisions we now make or any actions we take in regard to this matter WILL NOT put our city, your city at risk.

I thank you for your continued support, your active interest in this current process, and I hope that everyone will be patient and allow us to work through this difficult issue.

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