Fired city manager demands money

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Auburn Ford Jr. claims Midway owes him nearly $30,000

By Alice Du Pont

Former Midway City Manager Auburn Ford, Jr. said all he wants from Midway is his money, and he will happily go on his way. Ford, who was terminated during the regular month meeting of the Town Council on Jan 3, is asking for compensation because, he asserts, the council had no cause to dismiss him.

Ford said his financial request from the city was met with silence from the Town Council at a Jan. 8 meeting, which was a continuation of the Jan. 3 meeting. He said he is willing to accept severance pay, annual leave and sick leave. By his calculation, that amounts to $29,139.05.

“To avoid legal proceeding, full payment in this amount is due immediately. Payment should be deposited in lump sum into the bank account supplied upon hiring,” he said, in a formal letter to Mayor Ella Barber, dated Jan 28. He also said he hand-delivered copies of the letter Jan. 29 to City Attorney Henry Hunter and Interim City Manager Roosevelt Morris.
Ford also said in the letter that unless the validity of the debt is contested, he will assume the sum will be paid by Feb. 7.

The alternative, Ford said, would be to go to court and ask for the remainder of the money owed, which he said is almost $140,000. That is the amount left on his current contract plus sick and annual leave.

“If full payment is not received, I will have no other alternative but to exercise whatever rights and remedies I have under the law to enforce such payment, including but not limited to institution of legal proceedings against you to recover the above amount, together with accrued interest and legal expenses,” he wrote.

Mayor Pro-Tem Chuck Willis said he isn’t sure the city owes Ford anything because when Circuit Judge Jonathan Sjorstrom withheld adjudication after a jury found Ford guilty in 2012 of assault on a firefighter, it wasn’t clear whether he was guilty or not.

“The attorney told me we had to wait until the judge explained what he meant when he withheld adjudication,” Willis said.

Ford has been working on four major projects: the planned charter school, the fire station, a mini plaza and the senior citizens center, which are critical to the city’s growth. He said all of the projects can be completed on time if Interim City Manager Roosevelt Morris can keep on top of things. Ford said he offered to serve the town as a consultant but has not received an answer to his offer.

The dedication of the new fire station was scheduled for Jan. 25 but was postponed. Ford said work has slowed on the facility because no one is there to monitor the day-to-day progress. In December he promised the Town Council that the building would be completed by Jan. 31, but now he doesn’t know when it will be finished.
“The grant actually allows until July to get the fire station completed,” he said.

Ford would not speculate on whether or not any of the other projects would suffer because of a change in administration.

Efforts to reach the city attorney, Henry Hunter, were unsuccessful by press time.