Here is why I couldn’t be silent
A Times editorial accuses me of “abusing” my position by responding to my wife’s unjust termination. I disagree. I displayed restraint throughout this travesty, speaking only after it became apparent that the process was tainted and unjust to my wife, Donna, and that the board of the Juvenile Welfare Board was the only body that could ensure a just resolution.
I spoke to the JWB board about Donna’s termination in a public meeting, on the record. I also spoke to members in person and/or on the phone. For the 11 years that my wife has been involved with this program, I’ve said nothing to the JWB board or staff about the program. When my wife was fired, with no documentation or evidence, I still said nothing, believing that the process would work, and that she would be reinstated to the job she held for more than a decade.
The process did not work. The Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center board met in secret and engaged in a “review” bereft of due process. To this day that board hasn’t explained or justified Donna’s termination — even after being asked by the JWB board. In fact, the Sanderlin board’s own trustee report, (obtained by public records request) exonerated Donna, yet the board still voted to terminate her by “secret ballot” in a private meeting — forcing concerned pastors to literally stand outside in the rain. The board violated its own personnel policies for written notice, appeal, grievance and fact finding. The “process” was a farce. That is why I spoke out.
The Times editorial board believes that no mistreatment, even unjustified termination, warranted my speaking on Donna’s behalf to the JWB board. To the contrary, I believe that when a process is so blatantly hostile, secretive and unfair, justice demands a response. That’s why I spoke out.
Kenneth T. Welch, St. Petersburg The writer is chairman of the Pinellas County Commission