Fire the right ones

Chapel Hill leaders know where the Kerry Bigelow-Clyde Clark case is going.

You could see it at the hearings, as the two men’s former supervisor, Lance Norris, fumbled his way through conflicting and contradictory statements to the Personnel Appeals Committee charged with making a recommendation to the town.

You could see it as Tiffanee Sneed, the town’s senior legal adviser, gamely danced her way through legal gyrations that would have made Atticus Finch’s courtroom opponent in “To Kill a Mockingbird” blush.

Even the detective who was provided to the town by a union-busting company based in Raleigh acted as if he didn’t know who he was working for.

The town is doing its best to sell this comedy of errors as a disciplinary issue with two belligerent and rude workers, but the case that has been made is well past its freshness date. The stink the town is now trying to pass off just gets worse.

Why is the town doing so much dancing? So it can prop up a lie to maintain its façade of this being a cool community run by a cool town staff that is way beyond racial issues and job issues. But that flies in the face of what has been revealed in this case.

So here’s how I believe the Bigelow-Clark deal will go down:

The committee that has heard testimony at two hearings for the former sanitation workers will recommend that the town was wrong to fire Bigelow and Clark and that they should be reinstated. That recommendation will go to Town Manager Roger Stancil, who will deny it and rule that the two will remain fired.

Then it all goes to court as civil rights lawyer Al McSurely, who represents the two fired workers, oversees a discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the men. McSurely will win that lawsuit, and the town will have to settle with Bigelow and Clark. Because some town supervisors so mismanaged this affair and the Town of Chapel Hill willfully embarked on a dubious smear campaign against those workers, this will end up with some very big checks being written out to the two men.

Because for the town, saving face is what this is all about.

The irony is that we’ve seen this all play out before in a strikingly similar case. McSurely represented Keith Edwards, the first black female police officer on the UNC police force. Edwards claimed the police department’s practices were discriminatory after a white male officer with less experience was promoted over her. UNC tried its best to blacken her reputation. It lost in court.

Does that sound familiar?

Instead of firing Bigelow and Clark, the town should take a look at Lance Norris and Roger Stancil, the two town officials who got us into this mess. They should be fired. And the town should definitely try to deny them unemployment benefits.

–Don Evans

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  1. John Kramer

     /  February 11, 2011

    Boy, the hating continues apace!

    The reality is if these guys violated work rules, which it sounds like they did, then they should go. It does not matter what some town committee says, what you or I say, nor the lady who complained but did not want them fired. Sorry, shelia, that ain’t your choice.

    If this goes to court it will be interesting to hear what the judge says about the wackiness surrounding this case.

    And, please, can you stop with the “union busting” comments already? You all have turned this into a giant conspiracy, a story suitable for the X-files show.

  2. Chris Jones

     /  February 11, 2011

    HELLLOOOO Over the top!!

    Thank you for rendering a decision on the employment status of Stancil and Norris based on conjecture and hypothesis, as opposed to any factual basis.

    Of course, the beautiful thing about this country is that you’re entitled to develop your own opinion based upon the evidence at hand. However, maybe the same “evidence” could be interpreted in another manner? Here’s some alternative conjectures (again, no “facts” at hand, similar to the above analyisis):

    Maybe some of the “dancing” is the realization that town officials don’t have an adequate system to properly document employee files of disciplinary issues?

    Maybe town officials are fearful of discussing the employee’s job performance and either violating their privacy (you know, in most places, personnel files are considered private)?

    Maybe they figure that the “Sanitation 2”, as they have been so progressively anointed, and their lawyer are going to drum up a racially-related lawsuit no matter what, so why bother?

    Here’s facts for you though: EVERY company that I have EVER worked for would fire me in a heartbeat for being insubordinate or rude to customers. No questions asked. So, frankly, if the Sanitation 2 fit the above category, then, really, what’s the fuss?

  3. Don Evans

     /  February 11, 2011


    I guess you haven’t been paying attention. Did you go to the committee hearings and listen to the actual testimony? Check out previous posts by Nancy and Terri Buckner, who HAVE been to those hearings.

    Having an opinion about the issue is quite all right, but do get some facts before you weigh in on an issue or criticize others. Facts can be a great help and could keep a person from going over the top without knowing the facts.


  4. Terri Buckner

     /  February 11, 2011

    If anyone would like more details than have been provided here, see Will’s blog He attended both hearings and reported on what he heard without much commentary. His impressions are recorded in separate posts.

  5. John Kramer

     /  February 11, 2011

    Facts, Terri, don? Sorry but Wills blog is not fact.

    Chris is right. Thanks for chiming in, Chris, the self righteous socialized think they know what happened and are happy to demonize the women who complained and defend the accused just because they are black and say they have been wronged.

    No one posting here was there when the alleged infraction occurred. So it is he said, she said. One has to wonder why a citizen would complain falsely. And why these mens supervisor considered retiring rather than continuing to deal with them (Herald Sun today).

    So, keep on posting your liberal comments and forget the facts. Make it a cause in the greatest 1970s hippie tradition. Maybe you should have a sit in or a rock concert. That won’t change the fact that you really don’t know what happened here.

  6. Don Evans

     /  February 11, 2011

    If you’d been at the hearing Wednesday you would have heard one of the anonymous woman callers confess that she couldn’t remember what time of day the incident occurred and the other woman confess that she couldn’t describe the man who was rude to her. You would have heard one woman flat-out hang up on the proceeding because she couldn’t answer simple questions.

    Did you read Nancy’s detailing of Lance Norris’s inconsistent testimony? I heard plenty of “lots of times” from the town witnesses but no specifics because no one wrote anything down when they were having these terrible problems with the workers. If the problems were that terrible, why wasn’t someone keeping a tally? I find that strange and certainly suspect in so grave a proceeding. The supervisor can say he thought about retiring because of the situation, but unless he documented his feelings or discussed it with someone who can corroborate the information, it is meaningless.

    Try to stick to the facts here instead of dishing out stale proclamations about people’s politics. I’ve come to expect better reasoning from you than that.


  7. John Kramer

     /  February 11, 2011

    Yeah, Don, you are right. These guys are completely innocent and this is a huge conspiracy.

  8. Joe

     /  February 13, 2011

    Why the obsession with these two guys? NC is a right to work state. They were rude to people. They were fired. End of story. Why should we waste a mountain of public money on “investigations”? This is beyond absurd.

  9. Don Evans

     /  February 13, 2011


    I wish it were that simple. But racial discrimination and anti-union activities by the town, not to mention murky town policies and incompetent supervisors, raise this situation to a level that affects all of us.

    Some may not want to care, some may not want to get involved, some may side with the town because they believe the town must know what it’s doing and some may want to ignore the situation because they believe it doesn’t affect their lives, but it is a justice issue we must address.

    And who would stand against justice?


  10. Jon DeHart

     /  February 13, 2011

    My question for you is who sets the policy and procedures who whom you wish to fire ? Maybe that is who you should be targeting ?


  11. Terri Buckner

     /  February 13, 2011

    Just in case anyone is interested in what “right to work” means legally:

    § 95-78. Declaration of public policy.

    The right to live includes the right to work. The exercise of the right to work must be protected and maintained free from undue restraints and coercion. It is hereby declared to be the public policy of North Carolina that the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or labor organization or association. (Enacted March 18, 1947.)

    State public policy says these men, if they worked in private industry, would have the right to work and belong to a union without threat of retaliation. Why should public employees be penalized? Chapel Hill can’t go against state law, but they can enforce their own statutes that say the men had the right to know that claims against them prior to permanent disciplinary action being taken.

    Chapel Hill also has the right to require its managers to abide by town statutes rather than applying standards of performance that are higher for some than for others. You can take everything about the union out of this situation and still have a mess that has more to do with poor management than any negative actions by these two men.

  12. The established ethics policy for town employees was discussed here in December 2010:

    Apart from applicable laws and regulations (lawyers’ business), the Town Manager is responsible for ensuring that the conduct of town business avoids the appearance as well as the fact of impropriety.

  13. John Kramer

     /  February 13, 2011

    This is a huge conspiracy, almost as big as the lunar landing that was staged in 1969. Glad you all have done your homework and exposed this scam, the biggest scam in the history of North Carolina.

    The people of Chapel Hill will not be so easily fooled.