Paul Page expected to resign as Chattanooga's director of general services

Paul Page expected to resign as Chattanooga's director of general services

October 2nd, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

Chattanooga General Services Director Paul Page, pictured during a recent groundbreaking ceremony, will likely resign this week in the fallout over allegations of sexual harassment made by two women employees, Mayor Ron Littlefield said.

Photo by Jenna Walker/Times Free Press.

Paul Page, the city's director of general services, likely will resign this week in the fallout over allegations of sexual harassment made by two women employees.

"He's expressed a desire to me to get out of the shooting gallery, which I can understand," said Mayor Ron Littlefield, who hired Page in 2005 and later created a high-paying position for him.

Page has been under fire since early September, after a finding by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Page had harassed an employee in October 2008 and that the city had retaliated against her after she filed a complaint. The letter stated that EEOC could go to court if the city didn't resolve the matter.

After a second woman filed a sexual harassment claim against Page in November 2008, he was disciplined with five unpaid days off.

Page has denied wrongdoing.

But personnel records and interviews show that a sexual harassment allegation figured in his termination from a previous job. And altogether, records show, Page has been fired from at least four government jobs in his 39-year government career.

Page, reached by cellphone during a Florida vacation, declined to comment Friday.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said Friday she agrees with his decision to resign.

"I think that's appropriate," she said. "I think that's the best thing for Mr. Page and the city."

Ladd said the council has talked with the mayor for the last week about how the situation should be resolved. She said all council members would be "wholeheartedly supportive of this action."

If Page indeed steps down, he would become the sixth city employee to either resign or be terminated in connection with allegations of sexual harassment within the last five years, city records show.

PAGE'S PAST

Littlefield has said his friendship with Page dates to the 1980s when Page was executive director of the economic development council in Walker County, Ga. Page used Littlefield as a reference on a 2000 employment application in Fort Oglethorpe and later when he applied to work in Chattanooga.

In 2005, Littlefield hired Page as the city's director of asset management. He later created the position of director of general services and named Page to the post, reporting to him. With 39 years of government service, Page now is paid $90,990 a year.

Page's résumé lists 10 government jobs since 1972. He was director of general services for Metro Nashville from 1975 to 1981. Nashville officials could not find his personnel records, but confirmed he had been terminated.

He also was fired from city or county manager positions he held in Fort Oglethorpe, Dade County, Ga., and Soddy-Daisy, records show.

He held the city manager position in Soddy-Daisy from 1983 to 1987.

His personnel records show he was terminated without show of cause by the Soddy-Daisy City Commission. Commissioner Gene Shipley, who was in office then, said Page was dismissed for poor performance and other reasons.

"I don't think we ever had any harassment claims brought forth to [the personnel department], but there were some allegations of harassment," he said.

Page was Fort Oglethorpe city manager for four years. Two of his annual reviews praised him for outstanding performance, but two others were overwhelmingly negative.

One review said Page spent too much time trying to pit Fort Oglethorpe council members against one another in an effort to get more of them "on his side."

The second review said he was rude, he didn't like questions from the public and he "lies too much."

Fort Oglethorpe fired him in 2004.

Page also worked as Dade County manager, at the Walker County Economic Development Council and as utilities manager in Sparta, Tenn. Officials from those governments did not return repeated calls over two weeks or said they didn't remember specific events during his employment. They responded to records requests by saying his personnel files were missing or had been destroyed.

OTHER CASES

Chattanooga has had 10 disciplinary actions regarding sexual harassment complaints since 2006, records show.

Half resulted in termination or resignation. City code states that employees who have harassment complaints are required to alert a supervisor, the personnel department, the mayor or other officials so action can be taken.

Personnel Director Donna Kelley said she investigates complaints and gives her findings to department heads and the mayor for a determination on how the employee will be disciplined.

Kelley said city employees are entitled to work in a harassment-free environment.

"At the end of the day, the city is going to take positive corrective action," she said.

Update: Paul Page resigns from City of Chattanooga post amid harassment allegations