The SM city council audience pays close attention as the council votes to terminate Public Works superintendent Charlie Rader after 60 days on the job. Rader was let go against the wishes of Mayor Melinda Mitchell, and council members Mike Fuselier and Juma Johnson.(Karl Jeter)
SM council fires Rader
By a 3-2 vote and against the recommendation of Mayor Melinda Mitchell, the St. Martinville city council removed Charles Rader from his job as superintendent of public works.
With a standing-room-only audience looking on Monday evening, councilmen Edmond Joseph, Craig Prosper and Dennis Paul Williams cast the deciding votes to terminate Rader just 60 days into his six month probationary period. Opposing the motion were Mike Fuselier and Juma Johnson.
Although the council wanted to discuss Rader’s performance in executive (secret) session, Rader insisted that the matter be handled in public.
Joseph offered the motion to fire Rader, saying he had spent time observing Rader at the city barn and communicating with employees there. “I was not pleased with what I saw,” Joseph said, adding that Rader had spent very little time at the barn, preferring to work from city hall.
Prosper also voiced criticism of Rader, referring to Rader’s recent conflict with an employee, Michael Martin. Prosper contended that Rader should never have confronted Martin about excessive overtime hours. That conflict resulted in a two-day suspension for both Rader and Martin.
“You should have done all due diligence and involved the administration before accusing an employee of stealing.” Prosper said.
“It’s a flagrant lie that I accused anyone of stealing,” Rader responded.
Prosper also cited Rader’s failure to properly clock in and out during his tenure and said he not produced daily reports as Prosper has requested.
Rader and his attorney, William L. Goode, said Prosper and Joseph were campaigning to have former superintendent Nolan “Boo” Champagne returned to the position.
Rader also criticized Joseph for involving himself so extensively with employees at the barn and Fuselier agreed with that criticism.
Fuselier said that proper procedures for the termination of an employee were not being followed. “We have not been called in to meet about this issue one time,” he said. “In all the years I’ve been here I don’t recall ever firing an employee without more process than this.”
Mayor Mitchell was not in favor of termination, saying she had found an independent polygraph examiner and had every intention to go forward with tests to determine which account of the conflict between Rader and Martin was truthful.
Martin had accused the superintendent of referring to him with a racial epithet, which Rader denied.
The mayor further stated that in a meeting last week, Martin had said he was willing to work the issue out and could continue working with Rader. “We should go ahead with the polygraph and give this a chance to work itself out,” she suggested.
A subtitute motion by Johnson to defer action on Rader’s status failed to gain a second.
Williams initially said that Rader was given a very difficult task and the decision to fire him was too serious an issue to take without more information. In the end, however, he voted for
He told the Teche News that his decision was based in part on the threats of legal action by Rader after the first sign of trouble and he felt the situation had deteriorated beyond the point of recovery.