published Saturday, September 24th, 2011

LaFayette city manager Johnnie Arnold's absence a mystery

by Andy Johns

The city manager in LaFayette has been in the office for only a few minutes this week after a closed-door City Council meeting that may have decided his future with the city.

Johnnie Arnold and his secretary, Doris Greene, were not in the office Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, and city staff say they don’t know when either will return.

The City Council held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to discuss personnel issues, but officials say regulations prevent them from saying what was discussed.

“Technically he is still employed, and he is still the city manager,” LaFayette Mayor Neal Florence said.

Council members were tight-lipped.

“I’m sorry, I can’t talk about what you want to talk about,” Councilman Bill Craig said Thursday morning.

“I can’t say nothing right now because it’s dealing with personnel,” Councilman Wayne Swanson said.

When asked specifically if Arnold had been terminated, he replied, “Being [a] personnel [matter], we can’t say that.”

Councilman Eric Tallent said no action or votes could be taken in the executive session meeting this week, and he believed a vote would be necessary to terminate a city manager. He said he could not comment on what happened in the meeting.

Craig and Swanson said official word of any action would not come until the called meeting Monday or the regular meeting Oct. 10.

City Clerk Brenda Snyder said Greene had called in sick one day, but she had not heard anything from Arnold. He was not scheduled for vacation, she said.

Snyder said Arnold stopped by for a few minutes Wednesday.

Attempts to reach Arnold at a number listed in the phone book were unsuccessful Thursday and Friday, and messages left at that number and his City Hall office were not returned.

Arnold has announced he’ll be retiring in March, though he said he’ll stick around to help train his replacement. Council members say they are “very, very, very close” to hiring a new city manager.

Update: LaFayette accepts city manager’s resignation, names new one

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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