No comeback for Rockwood parks director

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By Cindy Simpson

Jody Mioduski is officially out as Rockwood park and recreation director.

Mayor James Watts handed out a letter detailing his reasons for firing Mioduski just prior to the resolution being re-read to let Mioduski go on Monday.

“I feel like the city needs a change, and I have recommended that change,” Watts said. “It is completely within the jurisdiction of the mayor to request such change.”

This time, Rockwood City Council had discussion prior to voting on a resolution to oust Mioduski.

Last month, City Councilman Pete Wright called for the question before any debate could take place when the resolution first was brought to the council.

City attorney Greg Leffew recommended rescinding that resolution after the procedural bungle.

Watts’ letter said Mioduski asked the mayor to write a letter explaining he was the director and the park and recreation board was advisory after some problems arose between Mioduski and the board.

“I agreed to do that but encouraged him to work with the board,” Watts wrote.

Watts also took Mioduski to task for repeatedly leaving one of the entry gates closed at Mike “Brillo” Miller Park, and delays in getting his timesheet in for payroll.

Watts also had issues with Mioduski approaching a representative from a company the city does business with to take them to task for a bungled order for his department.

“Mr. Mioduski should have first talked with one of the city’s administrative staff members prior taking matters into his own hands,” Watts wrote.

He also said Mioduski tried to get 10 percent added to his budget and told administrative staff they were supposed to reduce other department heads’ budgets.

“I immediately called Mr. Mioduski after being advised of his actions and made it clear that I had no plans for a 10-percent cut and in the future he should discuss budget matters with me not staff,” Watts wrote.

Watts referred to a disorganized basketball program.

“Parents went to games only to find out their game had been canceled or rescheduled. Parents took their children to practice only to be told someone else was using the gym, and to check back later,” Watts writes. “The city had to refund fees for some 15 to 20 kids due to these type of problems.”

A final issue was how he acted toward a new employee who called Mioduski for advice on a situation at the park.

“Mr. Mioduski seemed to be upset and was not happy he received the call. As I understand, not only did he become verbally upset with the employee, but he called the employee back the next day and again discussed the matter with him.

“I do not believe this is the way a department head should respond to new employees, and it’s not the example I want our department heads to set.”

Councilman Mike Freeman said Mioduski had been in contact with him. He and Councilwoman Peggy Evans said the letter was the first time the’yd seen anything explaining why Mioduski was let go.

“I feel any time you are going to dismiss a person from their job, whether it is a department head where you have the will of the council and the mayor or just a regular employee, I think that all employees should have their problems addressed to them to where they can change the way they are working,” Freeman said. “What Mr. Mioduski is telling me is this never happened in this case. Now what the mayor is writing is saying he did address issues with Mr. Mioduski.”

Evans took the city to task for how they let Mioduski go. She said she was left in the dark as to why he was first put on leave and then terminated, only getting an initial email about his leave.

“I know no more today that I did six weeks or more ago,” Evans said.

Evans said after Mioduski was put on leave, she asked the mayor to explain what kind of complaints had been made against him.

She also confronted Vice Mayor Jason Jolly about it following the initial vote on the resolution to dismiss Mioduski.

Jolly said the reason he only smiled at her at the time was because she waited until the media was present with cameras sticking in everybody’s face.

The Roane County News did not witness the exchange both he and Evans referenced.

Jolly said he does not work for Evans at one point during a heated discussion Monday, to which she said he’d be fired if he did.

He countered she’d be fired as well before the exchange cooled.

Watts explained he didn’t have to give a reason to let an at-will employee go.

In a letter in the Wednesday, May 28, Roane County News, Mioduski touted some of the things he’d done for the city, saying he worked 60-hour weeks because of his love of the job and generating revenue for the city’s park and recreation department.

Watts, however, noted that Mioduski took credit for planning and executing over $220,000 of TVA Foundation funds directly to the parks and recreation department for the boat docks, security cameras and other items.

“Most of those funds came into the Park and Recreation Budget through recommendations made by the Tom Fuller Park Committee,” Watts said.