Sheriff-elect to fire 38 employees; DeKalb officials making changes in county staff

(DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.) -- DeKalb County Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown has served notice to 38 jail employees they will be out of work when he takes office Jan. 1. Meanwhile, CEO-elect Vernon Jones will be looking for a new county attorney. Jones had signaled his intention to replace Jonathan Weintraub, who abruptly resigned this week after a closed session with commissioners.

Weintraub, county attorney since 1993, had one of two county government positions not subject to civil service protections from political firings. The other is the CEO's executive assistant. Jones has not announced his plans for that position, now held by Russ Crider.

The Sheriff's Department is not covered by civil service rules, but Brown campaigned on a promise to change that. The rules he proposed would prevent many employees from losing their jobs just because of a change in the sheriff's chair. But in letters mailed last week, he informed 38 people, from detention officers to top-level administrators, that they will not be employed in his new administration.

Brown was at a training seminar Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Michael Murphy, a member of Brown's transition team, said the sheriff-elect would meet with terminated staff members "in the spirit of compassion" but stopped short of saying any of them would be rehired. "We're not slamming the door," Murphy said.

Murphy said Brown still will pursue a civil service system and will ask county commissioners to fund a human resources position to oversee it.

Weintraub's resignation as county attorney came after commissioners met in a closed session Tuesday, said Commissioner Bill Brown.

"Several of the commissioners were dissatisfied with a ruling he had made," said Brown, who said he did not join that criticism. Weintraub did not return a phone message Thursday.

The commission can remove the county attorney over the objection of the county CEO if a "super majority" of five of the seven commissioners agree, but such a move apparently would not have been necessary once Jones arrived.

At a town hall meeting earlier in the week, Jones responded to an audience member's complaint about Weintraub by saying, "I will be nominating to the County Commission a new county attorney come January."

Other county officials plan to leave along with CEO Liane Levetan. Year-end retirements have been announced by Merit System Director Richard Conley, Assistant County Administrator Donna Morgan, Administrative Project Manager Cathy Harris and senior executive secretary Evelyn Huey.

(iSyndicate; The Atlanta Journal and Constitution; Nov. 17, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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