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Judge signs McCorkle injunction
Sets date to determine hiring and firing authority
McCorkle photo
Judy McCorkle - photo by FILE
    Setting the stage to decide in court who has the true authority to hire and fire department heads within the City of Statesboro, Superior Court Judge William Woodrum has signed a “declaratory judgment and injunctive relief” action, which argues the city council does not have the authority to reinstate former city clerk Judy McCorkle.
    The action, filed by Statesboro resident Anthony Mann last week, was signed Thursday by Judge Woodrum, who set the hearing date for Aug. 24.
    The action sought to keep McCorkle from returning to her positions as city clerk and director of finance and administration until the matter could be resolved. However, upon signing the action, Woodrum scratched out a sentence that prevented the defendants – the city, mayor and council – from proceeding with the reinstatement.
    Mayor Bill Hatcher said that despite the injunction, he feels the council has the authority to direct the city manager to hire and fire department heads.
    “The way I believe it is put together is that it’s done in consultation – advise and consent,” Hatcher said. “We are confident that the mayor and city council do have the authority to hire (department heads). We would not have (reinstated McCorkle) if we hadn’t thought that.”
        Councilman Will Britt supports the action taken by Mann and thinks that a hearing will determine once and for all that Statesboro has a city manager form of government.
        “One of the very first things I said…during the Judy McCorkle’s reinstatement, is that I don’t think we should be hiring and firing. And I still believe that,” Britt said. “Apparently, a judge believes there is some merit to that argument.
        “Our city has got to get through this. We need to be done and put this behind us.”
        McCorkle was terminated from the city by City Manager Shane Haynes in September. After McCorkle threatened to sue the city and seek damages of $1.165 million, city representatives met with McCorkle and her attorney in late May to mediate the potential claim. A week later, the council voted 3-2 on June 2 to settle the matter and reinstate McCorkle to her former positions as well as grant her back pay and benefits.
        Though settlement documents have not been signed, McCorkle was back at work last Monday and worked through most of the week, though she was not at city hall yesterday. According to Britt, McCorkle was busy rearranging city hall while Haynes is away dealing with a family matter.
        “Judy worked all last week,” Britt said. “Not only did she work last week, she moved offices, she directed staff to move, she had locks changed, she requested the budget be changed to reflect her (salary) – she wanted everything back the same as the day she left.”
        McCorkle even acted as city clerk at the Alcohol Control Board meeting last Tuesday said one board member who was in attendance. City attorney Sam Brannen said McCorkle could not act officially in her position as city clerk until she is formally reappointed by the council.
        "(McCorkle) was reinstated by a vote of the council, but she has not been reappointed," Brannen said. "Since she was out of her position for some time, she needs to be reappointed."
        Councilman Joe Brannen, who presided over the ACB meeting, said he did not think McCorkle acted as city clerk and could not remember if she attended the meeting.
        “I think not. I cannot recall if Judy was even there,” Brannen said. “I don’t believe Judy was even there.”
        Hatcher has asked McCorkle not to work until the matter can be resolved in court.
“I’ve been in consultation with our attorneys and they say it has raised a legal issue, therefore I’ve asked Judy McCorkle not to work until we can get a ruling from the judge on this.”

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