Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Sleeping on the Job?

 Was Jackson's Public Works Director sleeping on the job while the water system fell apart? Former Jackson Deputy Public Works Director Mary Carter made the accusation in a wrongful termination lawsuit she filed against the city in U.S. District Court on December 3, 2022.  She claims the city fired her after she criticized her boss in an August 2022 WLBT interview. 

The EPA cracked down on Jackson in 2021 for staffing problems at the O.B. Curtis water treatment plant.  The facility only had two class A operators when it is supposed to have twelve operators.  EPA regulations require a class A operator to be on duty at all times.  Deputy Director Carter worked at the plant as an operator to provide relief to the two operators.  

The real fun began in July 2021 when the Lumumba Administration appointed Marlin King to the position of Public Works Director.  Mr. King was an architect by training who had no public works expertise.  

The complaint accuses the Public Works Director of not taking his duties seriously.  The EPA started holding bi-weekly meetings with Jackson officials and the Health Department to discuss Jackson's water system.  Ms. Carter says her boss "sporadically" attended the meetings and was "often absent."  She said when he did attend, he "was often observed to be sleeping and not attentive to the issues being address." 

The meetings continued as the system limped along towards failure.  The city hired two former Class A operators whose licenses had expired.  Unfortunately, they both failed the tests and had to wait to retake it.  

Ms. Carter says she tried to get a spreadsheet of plant employees and vacant positions so she could comply with the EPA order but the Public Works Director did not send her the spreadsheet (loader).  Mr. King's laziness did not go unnoticed: 

52. Beginning at that time, EPA Chief Myers began expressing concern to those in attendance with the bi-weekly virtual meetings that Mr. King was not adequately participating with the meetings and was needed to ensure that communication was flowing between the EPA and the City’s administration.

The EPA order directed Jackson to hire more operators and maintenance staff but the city instead lost operators and maintenance staff.   The EPA was not pleased and told, not asked, Mr. King in May 2022 to show how he would increase such staffing.  A plan was developed and sent to the agency. 

However, Mr. King's truancy continued.  

Ms. Carter complained to Mr. King in an June 20, 2022 email:  

71. In that email, she wrote, “During our EPA and MSDH meeting last Thursday. MSDH complained about…EPA also complained that you had missed three (3) of their meetings and that was unacceptable

An ammonia leak took place at the plant in early June.  The Lumumba Administration as usual covered up the news and instead  said there were "water pressure issues" in a textbook case of spreading disinformation.    The EPA demanded more information about the leak.  The complaint accuses Mr. King and his staff of dragging their feet in compiling the information.  The EPA warned Jackson about the delay.  Deputy City Attorney Terry Williamson took charge and provided the information to the agency. 

Meanwhile, another Class A operator, albeit a temporary employee, quit in July 2022.  Although Ms. Cater worked as an operator, the complaint states "there were times when no Class A operator was on duty" at the plant.  The Lumumba Administration continued to hide the truth from the public and did not even advertise the open positions on the city website or on employment websites.  Logs show the plant lacked Class A operators for 153 hours.  

The complaint claims a Public Works employee leaked Ms. Carter's emails to WLBT.  WLBT interviewed Ms. Carter on August 18, 2022. WLBT story.  The Deputy Director criticized Mr. King several times in the interview.  Needless to say, the Lumumba Administration was not too happy with Ms. Carter going rogue.  

Mayor Lumumba told Ms. Carter to attend an August 22 meeting at City Hall.  Expecting a discussion on the water plant operations, the Deputy Director arrived to a meeting of the Lumumba Inquisition.  The Mayor, City Attorney, CFO, Public Works Attorney, and City Engineer present.  Mayor Lumumba looked directly at Ms. Carter and warned "We should not be airing our dirty laundry in public." 

The water treatment plant failed a week later.  MEMA established a command center and took over plant operations.  The Lumumba Administration fired Mr. King and appointed Jordan Hillman as interim Public Works Director.  

The complaint complains Ms. Hillman froze the Deputy Director out of meetings.  She griped in a September 9 email to Ms. Hillman and Chief of Staff Dr. Safiya Omari about her exclusion.  Ms. Hillman fired her later that day.  

The complaint charges Jackson violated  Ms. Carter's first amendment right's through retaliation after she talked to WLBT. The plaintiff asked for reinstatement, back wages, compensatory damages, and attorneys' fees.  

Attorney Louis Watson represents Ms. Carter.   The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kristi Johnson. 

Mr. King did not appreciate Ms. Carter's allegations in the WLBT interview.  When Mr. King left the city's employment, he released a June 2022 letter he sent to Ms. Carter. 

This earlier post contains the emails and complaints mentioned in his letter.  

The Mayor may not want dirty laundry aired but that is apparently what is going to happen.  Stay tuned. 


Anonymous said...

Amateurs, all. Right?

Anonymous said...

Why does this not surprise anyone?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the Mississippi Tort Claims Act limit her actual damages to 500k?

Anonymous said...

Give him some credit for being present, unlike all of the city's
no-show friends of Chowke.

Anonymous said...

Power naps are said to be good for you.

Anonymous said...

500k is 500k

Anonymous said...

The truth finally comes out- "air it"

Anonymous said...

Naw, given the fact that Chuckalock was on top of what was going on , he would not tolerate anyone sleeping on the job. Its impressive to see Chockalock manage the JPD, JFD, 911, Public Works, garbage and all other departments as well as make the fine appointments to JPOS and others as he does while maintaining such a heavy travel schedule.. Obviously , he couldn't do it all without Ruckkoo..BTW- where does she stay?

Anonymous said...

The real fun began in July 2021 when the Lumumba Administration appointed Marlin King to the position of Public Works Director.

Boy does this sound familiar, right Jordan?

Anonymous said...

City settles before discovery.

Anonymous said...

He doesn’t look any different than any other City of Jackson employee

Anonymous said...

City of Jackson: Lots of people with jobs for which they are not qualified. If you ARE qualified or bring attention to this fact you are isolated and ultimately removed as a threat to the status quo. Absolute incompetence is protected.

Anonymous said...

Somnolence upon viewing a Federal Government Powerpoint presentation is an affirmative defense.

Anonymous said...

City of Jackson real property owners-
your ad valorem taxes will be increased to cover costs incident to this litigation.

Jackson- the gift that keeps on taking.

Anonymous said...

Lol. This is pure Jackson!
I love it! Keeping it real!
Literally the worst city in America!
You can’t say shit about it either or you will be condemned as a racist!

Anonymous said...

King is Jackson's version of Hunter Biden

Anonymous said...

Jordan Hillman sure is proving to be the compliant lackey.

Kingfish said...

I suspect what happened in that pic was a long, boring ass zoom call took place. I've done it before on zoom.

Anonymous said...

Narcolepsy! King should file for his PERS disability and start getting his 13th check before it runs out!

Anonymous said...

I hope this gets to discovery.

Anonymous said...

They aren't taking back the 600 million, Kingfish.

Anonymous said...

When you work 120 hours per week, you get tired!

To be serious, the list is very long of Jackson employees who work very little, if any. I've dealt with many of them. Five hours of productive work per week would have been considered a ton for many of them. Some of those higher up knew how to disappear.

Anonymous said...

I've been in hundreds of meetings with EPA. In this case, I don't blame him for nodding off.

Rick Parry said...


There weren't supposed to be any notes or documents created that memorialize the excellence of Operation Full Flush!

Anonymous said...

@10:52 It is a federal suit so it isn’t subject to the MS Tort Claims Act.

Anonymous said...

If the city was not a total sh*t show, I would say this is not a huge deal and need more context.
But given the absolute abysmal aspect of every portion of the City of Jackson this is not a good look.
The fact that literally nobody even answers 911 calls and the national media care not, is proof that this is not going to get better.
Good luck residents. I cannot imagine.

Anonymous said...

3:29 PM
Good of you to join us, Mr. King.

Anonymous said...

This is 3:29. I'm not King and have never been employed by the City of Jackson or EPA.

Anonymous said...

The mayor demoted Dr. Williams and appointed Marlin King as PWD.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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