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City Clerk exonerated of wrongdoing

By Michael Butler

The State of Alabama Ethics Commission has responded on accusations regarding a city employee for alleged wrongdoing.

City Clerk Whitney Pitchford received a letter from the Ethics Commission dated April 8. In the letter, Executive Director Thomas B. Albritton stated that the complaint against Pitchford had been dismissed.

"A complaint was filed against you alleging that you violated the provisions of the Alabama Ethics Law," Albritton wrote. "The commission concluded that there was not probable cause to believe that you violated the Alabama Ethics Law."

In the resolution presented to the commission, the council asked for an investigation of the city clerk's potential misuse of leave time, alteration of a medical record and purchase orders, and the purchase of goods and supplies at the city's expense without approval of the mayor or other appropriate city officials.

Other employees listed in the claim for separate accusations include mayor Johnny Hammock, mayor's assistant Wendy Clayton and accounts payable/payroll clerk Kayla Robinson. Former building inspector Andy Coker and former police chief Matthew Higgins were also cited.

Determinations on the those individuals have not yet been released.

City Council List of Allegations from Nov. 9, 2021 Resolution

a. Harrassment or harrassing communications directed to City of Tallassee employees and officials by, among others, the Mayor of Tallassee, the former Building Inspector for the City of Tallassee and the Tallassee Police Chief;

b. The requirement by the Mayor of Tallassee or its former Building Inspector that employees of the City of Tallassee work on or participate in businesses or projects that were not part of the operations of the City of Tallassee during regular work hours of the City of Tallassee;

c. The alteration of a medical record by the Tallasseee City Clerk;

d. The alteration of purchase orders by the City Clerk and the City's Accounts Payable/Payroll Clerk;

e. Purchase of equipment, goods and services by the Mayor without the approval of the Tallassee City Council to include but not be limited to (1) the purchase of a motor vehicle; (2) expenses related to the Mayor's campaign for the Alabama Public Service Commission; (3) payment to a business owned or controlled by the former Building Inspector for tree and shrubbery cutting and debris removal; and (4) seeking and receiving reimbursement from the City of Tallassee for certain expenses unrelated to City business or operations;

f. Attempts by the Mayor's assistant to interfere in or impede the investigation of complaints against the Mayor;

g. Purchase of certain supplies and goods at the City's expense by the City Clerk and the City's Accounts Payable/Payroll Clerk without the approval of the Mayor or other appropriate City official; and

h. Misuse of leave time and inappropriate accrual of leave time by the City Clerk and the City's Accounts Payable/Payroll Clerk