For practically 30 years, if I have had a major emergency weather, chemical spill, traffic catastrophe or civil defense question, I knew I was seconds away from an answer because I had Pam Tucker’s phone number. In the near 25 years I have been doing the daily radio show, I knew I could, without warning, put her on the air live and get the unabashed truth and breaking details on any event or issue with which she was familiar.
All that ended a few months ago. It is now the policy of the administrator of the county, Scott Johnson, that any and all such questions or interviews go through the public information person they have hired to “handle” the media. That is right, media folks have to go through a middle man to talk to the most astute emergency management mind in two states.
Screw that. And screw him.
Bad policy, stupid policy, and one of a thousand reasons that the most popular public servant I have ever known in service in the CSRA basically told Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross that he could, in so many words, “take his job and shove it.”
Let me make this as clear as I can: three Columbia County commissioners I have spoken with — Doug Duncan, Bill Morris and Trey Allen — have told me they were stunned to hear about the atmosphere Tucker has been working under, and they worked diligently behind the scenes to work out the differences. I have heard the same sentiment is shared by Gary Richardson, and I believe it.
Chairman Cross? No idea where he stands. After his steadfast refusal to remove his lips squarely from the butt of notorious lowlife and erstwhile politician Joe Mullins I really don’t care to talk to him. Talk about attempting an intervention? I tried that, but he chose Mullins over the truth and the stink that stuck with him is too much for me to stomach. So feel free to ask him how he feels about this situation with Pam. I frankly do not care.
Cross has seen this coming for a long time, and did little to stop it.
To be fair, I suppose I should tell you that no one thought she would actually go through with the resignation. I spent a long time discussing this with Sheriff Clay Whittle the other day, and I can tell you three things I took away from the discussion. One, he personally likes Pam Tucker. Two, he thinks she is the best EMA person he has ever met. And, three, he didn’t believe she would resign.
He was wrong about that last one. Hell, I was too. There were several “starts and stops” with this resignation over the last few weeks, and she backed off enough to where I thought she was going to stick it out. But the hits just keep on coming.
While there has never been love lost between Johnson and Tucker, the relationship seemed to come to a head just after Christmas when her former assistant, Rusty Welsh, put a knife in Tucker’s back big enough to skewer the Lamar Building. Rusty went to meet with Johnson when Pam left for Christmas vacation.
The epitome of a disgruntled employee, he wrote a lengthy resignation letter that took shots at the woman who loved him like a son and lifted him from obscurity, teaching him everything he needed to know about the EMA office so he could work there. I have been told he assumed he would eventually replace Pam when she retired, but all that went to heck when Pam was asked a while back to find and hire someone who could eventually replace her (10-15 years down the road) because, clearly, Rusty wasn’t going to be that person.
That was a directive from Scott Johnson. Rusty reportedly didn’t respond well to that, and he apparently blamed Pam. I have not seen the letter he wrote, but it must have been a doozy, because before she could come back from Christmas vacation, Johnson had called in almost every single person who works under Tucker, looking for dirt. When the big boss asks third-tier employees to give him dirt on a second-tier employee and they know the big boss doesn’t like the second-tier employee, well, you can predict the outcome.
When Tucker returned Johnson confronted her, and she was rightly livid. On top of all that, he apparently tried to talk Rusty Welsh out of resigning, and he sent him back to work out his two weeks’ notice and, hopefully, reconsider his resignation in Pam Tucker’s office.
That is beyond stupid, that is insane.
Pam very rightly expressed that it was a horrible idea for him to return to her department, with her “rhetorical” blood still fresh on his hands. Thank goodness a majority of the county commission agreed with her. He was sent home, and rightly so.
No crap, Kojak.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg as to the silliness Tucker and others have been subjected to under the rule of Scott Johnson and his chairman, Ron Cross. Unfortunately, of the several major players who have left Columbia County under less than ideal conditions, Pam is the only one who seems willing to go out with a bang. God bless her for that. The folks who left quietly, while mumbling complaints, and griping secretly to friends and colleagues, congrats! Business like this with Pam Tucker is enabled by your failure to call such garbage into the light. You have blood on your hands with this, and all other hideous business conducted beyond the public view.
There are a few others in the county who are apparently offended or intimidated by Tucker’s success in the community, and they also deserve membership in the “teeny weenie” club. They say Pam “promotes” herself, and never fails to take credit for anything good in the county.
Well you know what? Grow up. This isn’t junior high school, and no one cares who wins Miss Congeniality. Except you.
She knows the EMA business, and that could save lives and provide vital information at difficult times, so get over your damn selves.
And for those of you who want to look at what happened to Pam in Augusta/Richmond County, and say “it happened again,” please explore that theory. Take a look at the motley crew who stood by and allowed Pam to be run out of that city and ponder, where are they now?
Scott Johnson may survive this, and if he learns from the experience and becomes better, God bless him. But unlike when about two dozen other folks left under odd circumstances, Pam Tucker has turned on the light while slamming the door. He created a hostile work environment for her, and that, in my humble opinion, is tantamount to termination.
So pay the lady what we owe her. As a Columbia County resident I demand it. As a member of the media, I will hold you accountable for it.