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FIRST ON 3: Pender County Health Director calls out County Commissioners in open letter

READ MORE: Pender County Health Director calls out County Commissioners in open letter

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY)-- Jack Griffith says he and the Board of Health are under attack by Commissioners George Brown, and David Williams. Thursday afternoon, Griffith fired back.
In an open letter to state Representative Carolyn Justice, Pender County Health Director Jack Griffith writes two commissioners have spread “lies and mistruths”.
Griffith had said he'd retire at the end of next month, but Wednesday night a special committee asked the Board of Health to keep Griffith as director until they could find a permanent replacement. Griffith says that request led to attacks by Commissioners George Brown and David Williams.
In the letter he writes:
"A majority of the BOH simply did not want to put into place an interim health director for a short period of time, and asked if i would stay on until the BOH selected a director. That is all there is to this recent attack by Mr. Brown, and now, inexplicably, Mr. Williams."
However the Board of Health did not ask Griffith to stay on, a special committee made that request. The board of health will vote on that request at any emergency meeting yet to be scheduled.
Commissioner Williams responded with this statement:
"This soap opera has gone on long enough. Our whole board (of commissioners) should be embarrassed, including myself. I tried to bite my tongue and let it work itself out, but apparently that's not going to happen."
Meanwhile Nursing Supervisor Shirley Steele has filed a petition with the state against Dr. Griffith.
In her appeal Steele writes:
"I am a whistle blower. The health director gave me a five day suspension without pay for an incident in which i followed policy."
Steele has hired a lawyer and, right now, has no comment.
We called County Manager Rick Benton's office several times to request the e-mails from commissioner Brown and Williams, but he did not return our phone calls.

Griffith's letter and Steele's appeal can be read in their entirety below.


Dear Representative Justice:

I’m in receipt of E-Mails sent out by David Williams and George Brown that attack the BOH and me. The emails are direct attacks on the BOH, personally and professionally, and suggest that somehow the health director is “running Pender County.” I see that you are on the distribution list for the emails. I have sat silently by while Mr. Brown has reported as facts lies and mistruths throughout the media, TV and newspapers. The most egregious of these is that there has been “…arrogance and unacceptable behavior to warrant anger and embarrassment for our county.” I would remind you that George Brown is the one who made statements on TV and reported the following:

Drug Use by the Health Department staff: Proven to be an untrue allegation by a majority of the BOH.

Medicaid Fraud: Proven to be an untrue allegation by a majority of the BOH.

Misappropriation of funds: Proven to be an untrue allegation by a majority of the BOH.

Frankly, Mr. Brown and Mrs. Shirley Steele have made numerous other allegations: all found to be untrue by the BOH. Yet the lies continue to flow. Mr. Brown talks about “…continued and disrespectful behavior,” but there are no examples that he can cite. However, personally, I can go to the newspaper accounts and the TV media to see where he has attacked me personally and he does so again in these emails without one shred of proof.

I have been lied to and at by the Chairperson of the BOH and other BOH members recognize this. Clearly, I have resigned effective September 30th. A majority of the BOH simply did not want to put into place an interim health director for a short period of time, and asked if I would stay on until the BOH selected a director. That is all there is to this recent attack by Mr. Brown, and now, inexplicably, Mr. Williams (Mr. Williams has never attended a BOH meeting; he has never spoken with the majority of the BOH; he has never listened to the evidence of rather serious dereliction of duty that the BOH has listened to and determined to be unacceptable personal conduct by a professional nurse. Mr. Williams, nor Mr. Brown, for that matter has ever had the courtesy to address me directly in other than a public meeting where I am forced to follow obvious restraints. They have never come to my office or asked me to visit with them to discuss, as Mr. Brown put it, “…intimidation and falsehoods…,” that apparently I am responsible for making----although any falsehood has yet to be specifically identified.

Now, these two people are attacking the BOH members. You were once on the BOH! Clearly, you know the civic dedication it takes to sit on that board, and the time and energy the members spend to help the people in Pender County. To have a majority of those people attacked as if they are somehow under the spell of the health director is frankly, unconscionable. To suggest somehow that the BOH is not informed is simply not true on its face: we have regular meetings and they are provided numerous materials on staffing and budget as I’m sure you will well remember.

All this “witch hunt” is going to do is make it impossible for good people to serve on the “independent” BOH. The law set the BOH as independent as you well know to keep politics out of BOH decisions. Now, Mr. Brown and Mr. Williams have taken, from the beginning, information that has been proven to be outright falsehoods and Mr. Brown has made this information public through the media as if it were the truth.

I would ask you, as a representative and former member of the BOH to ask your republican colleagues to back off this attack on me until (after 14 + years) I retire; and back off this excellent BOH before they drive these good and deserving people off this board. In all my years in public service, and it numbers about 55 years now, I have never personally been involved in such unprofessional and unconscionable behavior as I’ve witnessed with these two people. To say that I’m disappointed in their behavior would be like saying that Floyd was just a rain storm.

I have already been forced to spend, from my own resources, almost $3000.00 in attorney fees to fight these lies, and if necessary I will spend more. As a registered republican I’m embarrassed by their conduct. I am not going to be in this position for much longer, and I guarantee you that I intend to fight these scurrilous attacks on every front and in every forum from October 1st until the November election. And unlike these two people I will have facts to support my claims.

Steele Whistle Blower Appeal

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Within the last 5 years this Board of Commissioners has made the headlines with their "Soap Opera" dramas over and over. Does anyone else see a pattern? I have no knowledge of the events in question, I only speak to the innapropiate public arena they choose to air their immature and downright unprofessional behaviors.

I am a resident of Pender COunty and over these recent years I have painfully watched Mr. Brown embarrase himself. I have attended board meetings and witnessed these gentelmen behave in obsurd ways including temper tantrums, staged ambushes of county leadership and uneducated attempts to manipluate the media for thei
r own agenda.

Mr. Williams has in the past seemed to watch the drama unfold and stay under the radar. His counterparts shake things up and jump into personnell issues with both feet and power complexes, while he manages to keep his oppinions in closed session. Unfortunatly he stands accountable for the reputation they have made for the Pender County Board of Commissioners- so I think he might want to reign in this obsurd behavior before they all become puppets to the internal politics of employee relations.

I hope we can get more "business minded & behaved" indiviuals to represent the county. This personnell issue should never be played out in the headlines where fact isnt required for print. Allegations and name calling are sensational and fun for readers. I'm not a fan of the health director Dr. Griffith -but for the sake of principle he should have been delt with following protocall and professionalism not in this embarrasing manner. I would bet he would still be retireing but maybe they wouldnt have scared off any professional serious canidates from seeking employement in that circus of a government.

Who would have ever thought

Who would have ever thought that a reasonable, legitimate request that the BOH consider the option of Dr. Griffith to stay on until a permanent Health Department Director is found, would spark so much spasm and tantrums from the camp of Commissioners George Brown, David Williams, Shirley Steele, Roberta Bost and cohorts. First of all, this option would save taxpayers money from funding an exercise that is NOT essential NOR critical. Secondly, Dr Griffith has the confidence of majority of the BOH,constituents and PCHD employees and obviously does not have any vested interest that would put programs in jeopardy. One cannot deny, after all these years, his track record of integrity and helping promote the general interest of Pender County. EVERYONE agrees that PCHD IS A GOOD HEALTH DEPARTMENT and obviously that could have ONLY resulted from GOOD LEADERSHIP. So that being the case, it is but simple common sense to have someone who is already familiar with THIS particular health department continue in order to minimize disruption of the operations of a "good health department" and serve for a smoother transition to the next head! This being said, one cannot help but be suspicious of WHY all those protests feel like an "overkill" and WHAT is the REAL but HIDDEN AGENDA that is greatly at stake to trigger such an overreaction....

We are entering

the new season. I suppose it was necessay for a "soap opera" type performance to move from Columbus County to Pender.

Which makes more sense?

Scenario A -- allow Dr. Jack to continue as Health Director, which he was apparently willing to do, until a permanent replacement is named? Saves the County Taxpayers money as you only pay Dr. Jack.


Scenario B -- allow Dr. Jack to sail off into retirement and pay an interim Director until a permanent replacement is hired? Costs the taxpayers additional money through retirement benefits and costs to hire an interim Director.

In a tight economic climate, with the County Government scrambling to watch every cost possibe, which Scenario better serves the taxpayers of Pender County?

And which allows the Health Department to provide better health care?

Perhaps someone should remind the Commissioners whom they are supposed to work for.

For that matter, where were Commissioners Tate & Blanchard when this comedy of errors was taking place?

A Follow Up

In their wisdom, it appears Plan B was adopted last week.

Dr. Jack sails off into a well deserved retirement on 09/30.

Taxpayers get to pick up the additional expense when the BOH hires an interim Director. One can imagine the costs associated with this. If from out of the area, no doubt a healthy fee and some type of daily per diem for living expenses.

And the support they've shown Dr Jack will certainly impact the quality of the candidate pool for a Permanent Replacement and the elevated Salary which a competent replacement will require.

Way to Go. Think of your egos first while the clients served and the taxpayers who foot the bill get the short end of the stick.

It was reported the BOH has applicants to replace the 2 Board members serving under expired terms. When were the positions advertised?

bout time,wow, nicely said...

bout time,wow, nicely said...