Bowers challenges Davis on hiring policies

January 14, 1998

Bowers challenges Davis on hiring policies


Staff Writer

Washington County's personnel director was criticized by one County Commissioner and defended by another during a heated discussion about affirmative action policies Tuesday.

Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis told the commissioners that the county needs to update the short-term goals in its affirmative action plans, which haven't been updated since April 12, 1994.

County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers criticized Davis for not keeping the plans up to date.

"How do you follow goals that had not been updated?" Bowers asked.

Davis took responsibility for the plans not being updated. "It's my fault," he said.

Bowers asked Davis why the dates were removed from copies of the county's affirmative action plans that he requested from Davis.


"Did you try to mislead us? Only you know," Bowers said to Davis.

"Actually, if I was trying to mislead you Ron, I would have put it in the cover letter," Davis said.

In a cover letter to Bowers, Davis said the plans hadn't been updated since 1993.

Commissioner James R. Wade defended Davis, and chided Bowers for making allegations against an employee in public session.

"I think we need to be careful that we get our facts straight," Wade said. "I think it's unfair."

"It's a personal vendetta and I think it's wrong," said Wade, who apologized to Davis.

Bowers said he asked for the copy of the plan the day after Lawrence Freeman was arrested on a park bench outside the County Administration Building at 100 W. Washington St. At the time, Freeman was holding a sign saying "Washington County Commissioners won't hire black men."

Davis said the fact the goals haven't been updated doesn't mean the county hasn't encouraged affirmative action or been following the plan.

"All things being equal, we're going to hire the minority applicant," Davis said.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said the county has the same percentage of minorities on staff as are in the county work force - about 3 percent. Excluding the Sheriff's Department and other areas where employees are not hired by the commissioners, the rate rises to 5.2 percent, Shoop said.

Davis said he's worked with state officials to improve the affirmative action plans.

The affirmative action plans also include women, veterans and the handicapped.

Shoop said an updated plan would be presented to the commissioners in a month of two.

The county must have an affirmative action plan in order to receive federal grant funds, said County Attorney Richard Douglas.

The commissioners asked Douglas to assume responsibility for making sure the goals are updated in future years.

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