Top city official brings grievance against manager

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

The source of the grievance against City Manager Strib Boynton has been identified as a member of the city’s executive team.
Al Heggins, human relations director for the city, filed a complaint through the city’s internal grievance process against Boynton earlier this month, reportedly following a verbal confrontation.
The nature of the grievance is unclear.
City officials and City Council members have refused to comment on the matter or to release documents related to the grievance, claiming that it involves a personnel matter that state law allows to be kept private.
Boynton and Heggins have both declined to comment on the matter. Boynton has said he will have a response to the grievance when an investigation into it is complete.
The council met in closed session Thursday to discuss a personnel matter for about 45 minutes, but took no action. Council members declined to comment afterward.
Heggins has been the city’s human relations director since August 2004.
She oversees efforts to advance human rights and civil rights issues on behalf of the city.
Her department works to resolve conflicts and mediate complaints that involve issues such as fair housing, equal employment opportunities and equal access to public services and accommodations.
In September 2013, she was among 10 winners of the “Champion of Change” award bestowed by President Obama’s administration. Heggins was honored at The White House for her work devising strategies to integrate High Point’s immigrant population into the community.
Heggins is paid an annual salary of $95,480.
Boynton wrote in an email to the council Feb. 14 that he asked City Attorney JoAnne Carlyle and Human Resources Director Angela Kirkwood to investigate the grievance.
The city has since hired Greensboro law firm Smith Moore Leatherwood to handle the investigation.
The grievance comes amid rising tensions between Boynton and some of the council over the use of city-issued credit cards by employees.
Council members have examined several years of credit card records and questioned meal expenditures by employees. They have also questioned the oversight of the credit cards by Boynton and other city staff, who this week changed the policy governing the cards to prohibit charges for meals by employees within Guilford, Davidson, Forsyth and Randolph counties.

 

 

UPDATED 11:45 A.M.:

The city of High Point employee who filed a grievance against City Manager Strib Boynton has been identified as Al Heggins, director of the High Point Human Relations Department.

Heggins reportedly brought the complaint internally following a verbal confrontation with Boynton earlier this month.

The nature of the complaint remains unclear. The City Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting to discuss a personnel issue in closed session today at 3:30.

 

Outside attorneys are investigating a grievance against City Manager Strib Boynton that has been filed by one of his employees.
Information about the grievance, including which city employee made the complaint and what is being alleged, is unknown. State law allows local governments like the city of High Point to keep most personnel information private.
Boynton disclosed the existence of the complaint in an email he sent the council Feb. 14.
“An employee has filed a grievance regarding my performance,” he wrote. “I have asked JoAnne Carlyle as City Attorney, and Angela Kirkwood as Human Resources Director, to investigate and report to you on their findings and recommendations. I will also be responding.”
Attorneys for Greensboro law firm Smith Moore Leatherwood are handling the investigation. The idea is to have an objective third party handle the matter to avoid any possible conflicts of interests that could come into play if only city staffers were investigating their boss.
Boynton on Wednesday declined to comment on the grievance, other than to reiterate that he plans to respond to the accusations once the investigation is complete.
The council has called a special closed meeting for Thursday to discuss a personnel matter.
It’s unclear whether the investigation is on the meeting agenda. Council members declined to discuss the subject of the meeting, since it involves a personnel issue.
The council supervises the manager and city clerk. It can go into closed session to hear issues about either, but can also discuss matters pertaining to any city employee behind closed doors.
Council also met in closed session last week to discuss a personnel issue.
No action was taken then, but tension has been on the rise of late between Boynton and some council members over the use of city-issued credit cards by employees.
Council members have examined several years of credit card records and questioned meal expenditures by employees. They have also questioned the oversight of the credit cards by Boynton and other city staff, who this week changed the policy governing the cards to prohibit charges for meals by employees within Guilford, Davidson, Forsyth and Randolph counties.
Boynton sent an email to the council Wednesday, saying the time spent researching credit card issues threatens the city’s finances.
He and other officials face deadlines next month related to $50 million in upcoming bond sales. They also will meet with bond ratings agencies to try to retain the city’s AAA bond rating, Boynton said.
“We have various requests for more information of one form or another on (credit cards), and while the requests are reasonable and will be answered, we — including you — are facing the loss of market credibility and unnecessary capital financial problems if we cannot have the freedom of time to properly focus our minds, time and energy on the time sensitive work necessary for consideration and approval of our bond packages,” Boynton wrote council.