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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 25, 201312:00 PM EST

Gadsden out as City Employee Services director

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by: David Chapman

Edward Gadsden, acting director of City Employee Services, and another employee are no longer City employees because of statements they provided to a City Council committee last week about the process of how Gadsden acquired the position.

Chris Hand, Mayor Alvin Brown's chief of staff, told the Council Rules Committee during a special meeting Monday the administration was "very concerned" the statements made by Gadsen and Lori Mason, a department staffing liaison, "did not meet the high standards of forthrightness, candor and completeness" expected of City employees to the Council and administration.

In response, both resigned their positions effective Monday, Hand said in an email to Council members.

Gadsden and Mason last week told the committee the director position was advertised in accordance with the law and 30-40 resumes were received.

Hand said Gadsden had developed an interpretation of the City ordinance code without general counsel that the position was advertised in 2011, which he considered adequate, though the position had been filled by Jarik Conrad, who left the City earlier this year.

Hand apologized to Council for the testimony and said it was clear Council members and others would have "felt misled." Hand said the administration received the same information from the department that was provided to Council and a determination was the information was not accurate.

The committee subsequently withdrew legislation to confirm Gadsden in the position.

Council member John Crescimbeni told Hand that in the administration's position, he would have made the same moves. though he said he knew it "wasn't exactly an easy decision."

Ellen Blair, City chief of talent management, will take responsibilities of Employee Services director until a permanent hire is made.

The employee services director position was posted Friday.

Hand said a request from Council member Matt Schellenberg for the department to review the employee services practices to ensure no other posting errors or incidents with past appointments was being conducted.

City Chief Administrative Officer Karen Bowling told the committee a new, well-documented hiring process was being created for the department.

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