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Citing lawsuit, board postpones official's fate
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners have postponed until at least next month a decision on what action to take against the county's planning director.

Though the five-member commission was slated to rule on the matter Thursday night, County Attorney Ken Jarrard asked that the issue be postponed due to "pending litigation."

Jarrard said the county's insurance will handle a lawsuit by Jeff Chance against the county, but a lawyer has not been assigned.

The county launched an investigation into Chance's e-mail and management practices on May 12. Since that time, Chance has been on paid administrative leave.

The investigation found that Chance tallied 12 ethical or policy violations, including "continually us[ing] county cell phone, computer equipment and systems during working hours for personal use."

Other findings included: showing favoritism to employees; using profane language; putting golf balls in the planning department halls; and allowing employees to use computers for personal use.

A decision concerning Chance has been rescheduled for Aug. 5.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county has an array of options, ranging from taking no action to terminating Chance's employment.

Chance's lawsuit, filed last week, contends the investigation has been brought about by a violation of the Georgia Whistleblower Act.

The suit maintains that other county officials essentially forced Chance to overturn an administrative decision regarding a conditional use permit.

In the complaint, Chance says he was threatened by planning commissioner Brant Meadows and, in reporting those threats, was not met with whistleblower protection rights.

Rather, according to the complaint, the investigation into his work practices was launched as retaliatory action.

The county began its investigation after receiving a report from Meadows, who had requested Chance's e-mails under an open records request.

Meadows and other county officials have not commented on the suit.

Chance, a 15-year employee of the county, has led the department since 2003.