City settles discrimination suit

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John Jesso


Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Rocky Mount City Council made public a payout Monday to a former employee to settle a discrimination suit.

John Jesso, the city's former director of downtown development, received $40,000 from the city in a workers compensation claim.

The settlement included a clause that the city doesn't admit wrongdoing. The settlement also has a nondisclosure agreement.

In light of the revelation that Jesso recieved such a settlement, resident Lige Daughtridge asked the council during public comment whether any other employees have had similar issues.

Daughtridge asked whether there were any internal candidates for a position given to Landis Faulcon, a prior associate of City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney who was hired a year ago to be director of a new business development department, central to the Jesso matter.

The settlement was first reported in Sunday's edition of the Telegram, which included information about the search for a new city police chief.

Gwen Wilkins, former chairwoman of the local Democratic Party, said the Telegram article headlined "Police search traverses troubled waters" troubled her.

"Racism is racism," Wilkins said in reference to the police chief search in which a white experienced internal candidate wasn't hired although being recommended by local law enforcement officials.

Wilkins said she's disheartened the council didn't stop an expensive search if its outcome wasn't going to be honored.

Councilman Andre Knight said the council hasn't condoned and won't tolerate discrimination.

Knight said the council hires the city attorney, clerk and manager. The manager hires all other employees.

Resident Robert Carr said a new police chief should be selected from within the department. He said Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone's endorsement of RMPD Capt. Marty Clay was good enough for him.

The council spent its entire Committee of the Whole workshop from 4 to 7 p.m., when the regular meeting began, and then another hour afterward in closed session.

No decisions were made during the closed sessions. The council was set to discuss economic development and personnel matters.

Present for some of the first meeting was Dev Pathik, the founder and CEO of Florida-based Sports Facilities Management, which operates the Rocky Mount Event Center.