It could be about a month before a former Forsyth County planning director will learn if he’s closer to getting his job back.
The Forsyth County Civil Service Board on Thursday heard arguments for and against its December decision to uphold Chance’s termination by the county commission in August 2010.
His 15-year tenure with the county was ended following an investigation of his management practices and computer use.
In an order signed Aug. 18, Forsyth County Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley reversed the board’s ruling to uphold Chance’s dismissal and directed them to revisit the matter.
The three-member board has 30 days to issue its decision on the matter.
According to Bagley’s order, once the board has made its finding, Chance may again petition the court.
At the heart of the issue is whether the county commission’s decision to fire chance was made under false pretenses.
According to the order, Chance had to prove that the reason given for his termination was not the true one.
Furthermore, he had to persuade the board the county fired him for a discriminatory reason or the county’s explanation lacked credibility.
Chance’s attorney, Eric Chofnas, maintained Thursday that his client’s termination was politically motivated.
The board members, he said, erred in ruling that they could not take action against improper political behavior against Chance, though they conceded "the investigation and eventual discipline against [Chance] was motivated in large part by improper political motives and accompanied by a poor quality investigation."
The board did, however, file an ethics complaint against former Planning Commissioner Brant Meadows, which was ultimately dismissed.
The complaint was the result of testimony during Chance’s eight-day civil service appeal hearing last year.
"I think you have a problem with lawlessness at the high levels of county government," Chofnas said. "Apparently in response to the publicity surrounding this, the county has removed department heads from civil service protection and has delegated the authority to terminate department heads to the county administrator.
"This strikes me as being an overtly political attempt to cover their backsides and make sure this never happens again."
The county has held that Chance was fired for failure to comply with and enforce county policies in the department he led for seven years.
Tim Buckley, one of the attorneys representing the county in the matter, argued Thursday that the board’s decision to uphold Chance’s termination was appropriate.
"This board should reiterate that it did in fact consider and address the issue of pretext in its detailed and exhaustive ruling in December," Buckley said.
He added that the board should re-emphasize that it didn’t take its obligation to look at the evidence lightly.
"It is important to note that this board determined Mr. Chance had violated county policies, each carrying possible termination as discipline and many of them multiple times despite admitted knowledge of the policy and reiteration of that policy to him," Buckley said.