2012
03.19
    This blog posts contains quoted strong language and profanity, beyond that indicated by the title. Reader discretion advised.

From The Chattanooga Times Free Press, 03/17/2012 :

    “A LaFayette, Ga., firefighter who was fired last week for refusing to obey an order while on duty is appealing the decision to the City Council, authorities said.
    “LaFayette Public Safety Director Tommy Freeman said he wrote up Johnny Stephens Jr. for insubordination two weeks ago. He said the firefighter refused to install a radio in a pickup truck after being told twice by his supervisors.
    “‘He was given a lawful, legal order to carry out an assignment, and he refused to do it,’ Freeman said.”

Johnny Stephens Jr. has been a LaFayette city employee for fourteen years, working as a building inspector, fire marshal, and firefighter. But that career came to an end earlier this month after he refused to install a radio in a pickup truck – something well beyond the normal job of a firefighter. According to unverified reports, the truck needing a radio isn’t a city vehicle, but the personal vehicle of newly appointed Public Works Director Mark White. (Why does White need a radio in his personal vehicle, and why was Stephens the one expected to install it?)

    “Freeman recommended to LaFayette City Manager Frank Etheridge that Stephens — a four-year [sic] employee — be fired.”

According to our sources within LaFayette Public Safety, Stephens actually wasn’t fired by Etheridge, but told over the phone by Assistant Chief Bengie Clift that he was being let go. Etheridge may have finalized the decision, but it was initially done by Clift after Freeman came bursting into the detectives’ office area and screamed “I want papers drawn up on Jr Stephens. I’m terminating his ass!”

That quote would be hard to believe, except it exactly fits into Freeman’s past behavior, his habit of cursing people in public, and his apathy towards experienced employees who fail to fall in line behind his incompetence.

Tommy Freeman was named Public Safety Director in 2007, supervising the city’s combined fire and police departments. (Public Safety was created ten years earlier to save money and allow one person to be paid as both police and fire chief.) Freeman, a former detective from Griffin, GA. was hand picked by disgraced former City Manager Johnnie Arnold.

Freeman came in to an agency wrecked by years of neglect and absent leadership, recovering from a high-profile murder committed by a high-ranking officer. (UPDATE: Freeman actually came into the department BEFORE Theresa Parker was killed by her LPD husband.) But instead of reforming the department by instituting new policies of oversight and accountability, Freeman fell into the old patterns of apathy, favoritism, and neglect. He never took the required firefighter training he vowed to get, ignored crime problems that had been plaguing the city for years, and currently alternates between attacking department employees and patrolling the LaFayette Golf Course.

Since day one, Freeman has shown he’s not up to the job, but senior officers and firemen aware of that fact have been pressured to keep quiet or leave the department. Some chose to retire, others stayed and kept their mouths shut. Several who challenged Freeman were investigated on trumped-up theft charges the GBI found without merit.

Some officers, like Robby Tate, spoke up and told Freeman to his face that he wasn’t qualified to be Police Chief. Tate, we recall, was demoted in May 2010 after telling Freeman he was incompetent, and later fired for something he had done six years earlier with permission from the former chief. Tate’s job was restored by the city council in a 3-2 reinstatement vote, but the officer hasn’t challenged Freeman since, and his (temporary) firing served as a warning to other city employees who might dare confront the Chief.

Several years after Freeman was appointed, one citizen left an anonymous letter on (now former) councilman Bill Craig’s front door. The letter was addressed to Craig but meant for the whole council. We don’t have a copy of the original paper, but you can read the letter’s text here. The following is an excerpt:

    “I am pretty sure you are not aware of the imploding situation you have at the police department here in town. Chief Freeman and the City manager have set about to set up and defame a number of officers in the department. The Chief has worked hard to breed mistrust and confusion in the department, going so far as to threaten people’s jobs if they speak badly of either the Chief or his newly appointed unqualified Assistant Chief. Also threatening to fire them if they so much as hear someone else talking bad about the Chief or his Assistant and they do not report the naysayers.” …
    “All of the officers with any experience in the department have voluntarily gone back to road patrol to get away from the Chiefs screaming, ranting outbursts. He has thrown people out of his office screaming loud enough for everyone to hear because he had told them the police department would provide police escort for a military funeral and then did not. When they came in to ask what happened he threw them out. He dislikes any branch of the military and has on many occasions made disparaging remarks regarding the military and the men and women who currently serve or who have previously served. He has also shown up on the scene of a fire (for which he has absolutely no experience or training) and been ranting and raving to the point where the citizens watching were laughing at him running around and screaming like a chicken with his head cut off. (this particular fire a women died) I believe in a crisis I would expect the Chief to be the calm one, able to take control of the situation. This is not the case with the Chief you currently have. He is trying to hang on for 5 more years so he can collect the retirement of a chief. He has surrounded himself with only young inexperienced officers who are afraid of him, totally marginalizing any officer with any time on the force and experience.” …
    “I believe he and the city manager need to go as the city manager approves his gorilla antics. The Chief it should also be noted spends most of his time on his office computer playing video poker and video golf. I do believe this is theft as he is accepting city funds for work, not games. Several officers have documented his computer time and are afraid to come forward until he tries to fire them. They are all terrified to say anything to any member of the council as they have been told they will be fired if they do. Several have also resorted to recording any conversations they have with him. All of this is just the tip of the ice-burg and doesn’t even begin to address the Chief selection process and how the City Manager intentionally set it up so he could remove qualified individuals from the process so the council would only have who he wanted them to see.” …
    “Mr. Freeman and the City Manager rule the police and fire departments with fear and intimidation and continuously breeding mistrust and confusion. Which in this economy has worked well for them. .. He is totally irrational especially when he is in a situation he is not qualified to handle. So he just screams and rants until everyone says or does what he wants.

The events with Robby Tate (which happened after this letter was written) and what our source observed the chief saying about Johnny Stephens, Jr. go to show that the original letter was factual, and should have been taken seriously by the council. Unfortunately it was ignored by the council and city manager at the time – in fact, they took no action beyond passing the note (which had some hand-written comments on it) to Freeman. The Chief then forced officers to take handwriting tests to track down who had written it. Despite the time and money wasted investigating, no “culprit” was ever identified and likely never will be.

That wasn’t the last letter about Freeman the City Council would receive:

In 2008, Freeman cursed at an LPD officer, Denny Reyes, in the LaFayette Recreation Department in front of several people, including rec. department employees. The officer was sworn at, told to shut up, and (per the letter) nearly driven to tears by the barrage of verbal abuse.

Freeman also made comments about Reyes’ race:

The letter writer wasn’t sure exactly what racial remarks were said, but we’d guess it was something like “stupid Mexican” (or worse) since Freeman was observed calling Reyes that on more than one occasion, at least once on police radio.

The letter writer asked the officer afterwards why he put up with that kind of abuse, and he replied that it was required to stay employed by the City of LaFayette. In this day and age, grown adults feel as if they have to endure verbal abuse, personal attacks, and racist remarks just to stay employed. That’s an absolute embarrassment for LaFayette and should make everyone who lives in the city ashamed of its police leadership and the elected leaders – Mayor and City Council – who ignored this letter after ignoring the last one.

The Chief also threatened Reyes with termination, saying he would “fire his ass.” That, again, fits what we’ve been told about the Stephens firing this month and shows that this letter should have been taken seriously. This happened four years ago, but last week officer Reyes was finally fired, reasons yet unclear. However, in light of the abuse he’s endured at LPD since Tommy Freeman took over, it’s amazing that he didn’t quit long ago and sue the city for discrimination.

(The letter also details Freeman’s disgusting behavior during a conference about dealing with rape and sexual abuse. We highly recommend you read the entire thing.)

Not every officer waited to be dismissed. P.D. Vaughn, a department veteran, got fed up and turned in his resignation in October 2010. In a letter to the City Council, he cited the chief’s swearing and verbal abuse against both officers and citizens, continual threats to fire people, and general incompetence.

Vaughn also pointed to several instances of criminal behavior among officers (including a relationship with a teenage girl) being covered up and Freeman’s attempts to frame officers for his own actions and get employees who question him fired. (Less than a month after the letter was sent, Robby Tate was fired for those very reasons.)

The detective concluded his letter by saying the chief “has no concern or respect for the employees of LaFayette Department of Public Safety or for the citizens of LaFayette” – feelings we share. Underground contributors have directly observed Chief Freeman quietly making fun of citizens who dare stand up and ask questions during council meetings, and he once referred to the older lady we call “Brave Citizen” as “crazy.”

We don’t know every detail of what happened with Johnny Stephens, Jr. earlier this month, or what official reasons the department had for firing Corporal Denny Reyes a week later. But we do know that no police officer, fire fighter, or human being should have to go to work every day and endure the kinds of abuses and attacks LaFayette Public Safety Director Tommy Freeman has been subjecting his employees to.

Freeman is a remnant of the disastrous Johnnie Arnold administration, and should be joining Arnold in forced unpaid retirement, because his tenure over Public Safety has been a disaster. But until the LaFayette City Council actually chooses to take these allegations seriously and give them the attention they deserve, the department will continue to be an embarrassing liability where good men are thrown under the bus and incompetents float to the top.

When Freeman was appointed in 2007, LaFayette had the same mayor and three of the same five councilors (Arnold, Swanson, and Meeks) that it has today. Two of those five councilors (Arnold and Swanson) were on that panel when the letters we’ve cited here were turned in. But none of them have done what we elected them to do – keep the city’s residents protected and safe by making sure departments are run efficiently and respectfully.

Tuesday night, March 20th, there will be a reinstatement hearing for Johnny Stephens, Jr. at LaFayette City Hall. (We haven’t heard if Reyes will have a reinstatement hearing; considering his work environment the officer probably doesn’t want his job back.) Everyone in the city who has any concern for these abuses at the department should attend that meeting, but it shouldn’t be just about Stephens and his career as a firefighter – it should be about Tommy Freeman and why elected city leaders continue to tolerate his incompetence and abuse.

Even a good cop, the best police officer in the world, shouldn’t be allowed to attack and berate those he’s supposed to protect and serve with – and Freeman is hardly a good cop. By most accounts he’s not even adequate at his job. The LaFayette council, old and new members, should make it a priority to investigate and replace Freeman instead of waiting on the department to fully collapse. (Councilor Meeks should be recused from any discussion or vote about Public Safety since her son has benefited greatly from Freeman’s leadership.)

So far a time for the meeting hasn’t been announced. Soon as we hear anything this post will be updated.

03/20/12 UPDATE:

The meeting will be held at 7 PM. LaFayette City Hall on Duke Street.

According to the Walker County Messenger, officer Reyes was fired for “a policy violation” based on “a complaint logged within the last three weeks.” We’ve heard, unofficially, that he arrested an employee of TVA and that arrest wasn’t handled properly (or someone at TVA raised a stink), and Freeman decided Reyes was “a liability” to the police department.

03/20/2012 UPDATE:

The council voted 0-4 against reinstating Mr. Stephens. (Councilman Davis did not vote due to a conflict of interest.) Stephens’ termination is now official. The cause is stated as insubordination after he refused to install a police radio into a vehicle belonging to a city employee (not Mr. White) after being asked multiple times by Freeman and Bengie Clift. Still no explanation of why Stephens was the one asked to install it.

Stephens did technically refuse an order, which is grounds for termination, but what else can employees of Public Safety do when faced with these abuses? Quietly quit, or stand up and risk being publicly fired in hopes of bringing attention onto the problems at LPD? Based on what we know of Stephens’ actions and statements to the council, he was out of line – but even with a justifiable termination, this decision establishes once again that Tommy Freeman’s behavior is acceptable, and will likely cause it to escalate. We’ve been promised time and again that the council will address citizen concerns, but so far they’ve failed to do so on this issue – and by the time they do, we may well have no good people left to police the city.

03/21/2012 UPDATE:

Excellent coverage from the Times Free Press. Essentially, Stephens was being asked by Freeman and White to do something beyond his job description, refused to carry out the order, and showed his butt because he didn’t know how to file a complaint against the abusive police chief. The termination was justified because of how Stephens behaved, but his behavior definitely came out of frustration with the continual abuse going on at LaFayette Public Safety.

And we WERE right about it being related to Mark White..

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52 comments so far

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  1. You guys sure don’t practice what you preach.Bitch ,fuss and moan about someone blasting another person with foul language, harsh words,etc yet you idiots on an almost daily basis slanderize people. And as for these “documented accounts” oh for the love of God it’s written on flipping notebook paper……yeah that’s REAL ACCURATE REPORTS…. show officially signed documents with names, times,dates,etc that were filed against all involved and that MIGHT give this story some credibility. As far as I’m concerned though this story isn’t anything but a bunch of B.S. as every other lie and accusation against Mark White that has came out has been. If you don’t like LaFayette or all of Walker County, PACK UP AND MOVE OUT and don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya on your way out ! And this goes for EVERY contributor that’s working for L.U……..and I do mean EVERYONE OF YOU……

  2. “Everyone of you”? Who would that be? Geez, maybe someone should start a group. “Digging up the Underground”, or something like that. That’d be awesome. And while I do not doubt one bit that this is a hostile work environment, I would like to throw in that Denny Reyes is a complete jerk.

  3. Also, would copy paper be better? Or quill and parchment? Not everyone can afford to type up fancy documents on Internet Explorer.

  4. Even me? I have worked for the current sheriff and knew Freeman from the sheriffs office. This story fits Freeman as I knew him. Thank God I thought of your advice before your dumbass thought it up to move and I escaped that corrupt county

  5. From our own archives, about the December 2010 Council meeting where Robby Tate was reinstated:

    “Around the same time Freeman spoke in the meeting about ‘fear’ of Dino Richardson, he showed why officers and citizens alike should be afraid of him. A citizen in the crowd started asking Freeman a question. The chief stared at the questioner and interrupted them, roaring ‘WHO AM I BEING QUESTIONED BY??’ If that’s how the chief treats those who pay his salary, how does he treat those who work beneath him? Public officials, both elected and appointed, have no business being that hateful to anyone asking an innocent question in a public meeting.”

    http://www.cityoflafayettega.com/2011/03/nov-dec-city-council-meetings/#47

    That one is 100% verified, and if you don’t believe us ask any of the sixty-plus people gathered in the council room that night. He’s a bully and a jerk, flies off the handle for nothing, even at the people who pay his salary.

    – LU

  6. Freeman was approved by the City Council in January 2007 in a 3-2 vote. Of the current councilors, Wayne Swanson voted against Freeman while Andy Arnold and Judy Meeks voted yes. Meeks’ yes vote has certainly benefited her, or her son anyway, but we have to wonder if church deacon Arnold is still as enthused by this foul-mouth bully in 2012 as he was in 2007. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=88swAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AEUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5446%2C3331113

    Five years seems like plenty of time to see if an employee is going to work out. Looks like a big thumbs-down to us..

    – LU

  7. I have only dealt with Freeman once and he seemed a little uptight but not a bad guy. But hearing all of this, i think its time something be done! Its not fair for one guy to run around acting like he’s the stuff. And ppl being fired bc they dont agree with him is not cool. Lu is doing a great job opening the eyes and letting ppl know whats really going on. Freeman needs out of his postion and i hope somebody makes it happen!

  8. There are much bigger problems in this city than worrying about what kind of paper an account is written on!! But just a little tid bit of information, witness statements are pieces of paper with lines on them! That statement very well could’ve been written on a ‘formal’ paper provided by the department. Let’s not judge when the facts aren’t clearly known!

  9. “Knower of everything” doesn’t know half as much as he thinks he does and is too coward to actually confront anyone he accuses of anything. Stay home and play your computer games Harold, you’re only making yourself look foolish every time you speak.

  10. Now what does it say to all of the Non white folks in the city of the LaFayette when their Cheif is spurting racial remarks to his own employees?! Gzzzz I wonder what he says about the common folks that are Hispanic, African American, Asian? As for Officer Reyes, it has been my experience in knowing and being around the man that he is very a good man, one of whom offers a helping hand to many in need expecting nothing in return, a man who has been a “Big Brother” to children that lack a father figure in the household, a loving man that has raised a family of his own and an active grandfather to his granddaughters, I have never witnessed this man as “a jerk” or a “stupid Mexican”. As a matter of fact I witnessed this man in church, helping people to move, offering a han in need, and giving to those in need…hmmm former military and server of the police dept in Lafayette for 13 years, I would say that if someone does wrong and he makes an arrest that Officer Denny Reyes should be a trustworthy enough man todo his job correctly, and I believe he did that! Some “Big Shot” at TVA should understand that even if the Pope himself breaks the law, there are consequences to be faced.

  11. The fact of the matter is, without any ifs ands or buts about it is that Johnny Stephens Jr was informed by not one, not two but three superiors to perform a duty in which he didn’t do. That’s against the rules. Also,this was NOT the personal vehicle of Mr White,this was the vehicle provided to Mr White by the City for use of employees of the City Works Department. The reason these vehicles are being outfitted with CB radios because a CB radio has it’s own independant antenna signal system, that does NOT have to rely on a cell phone tower. In ANY event of a bad weather situation these radios will be practical for communication between the City Works Department and Emergency Services . I would like to think that not only would an Emergency Services employee in this case being Mr Johnny Stephens Jr but also anyone that supports the lies,filth and downright wrong doings of The LaFayette Underground would appreciate any and all practicality of attempting to make it as easy as possible for Emergency Services and the City Works Department better serve the community during a tragedy such as what happened almost a year ago on April 27,2011. Granted for the most part the City of LaFayette was pretty much spared from the wrath the surrounding areas faced the effects of , however as with the blizzard of ’93 I think it’s safe to say anything is possible.

    Lastly, as these allegations against Mr Freeman and Mr White seem to be absolutely at best absurd. Granted I am hardly a fan of Mr Freeman, I feel during the death of a young man some time ago Mr Freeman was very inaccurate of some reports he made surrounding certain circumstances of this young man’s death however setting those feelings aside, he nor Mr White do NOT seem like the “blood thirsty racist” that they’re appearing to be. Again I know of Mr White and am friends with his family and refuse to sit by and allow anyone to say anything about him or any member of his family when their is no real validity of these outlandish claims. Written words on a piece of notebook paper mean nothing to me, furthermore I will go so far as to say that whomever wrote those words were NOT a man. Anyone can tell that those words written were written by a female. A woman has very distinctive handwritting. The city has formal complaint forms that can be filed against any employee superior or otherwise for any alleged wrong doing…and til I see certified copies of those forms with the actual signature that filed them, I refuse to believe any photoshopped documents produced by the LaFayette Underground.

    I’ll go so far as to say I will go on record and offer anyone $50,000.00 cash to produce a formal complaint file where a proper investigation is being conducted into this matter with proper signatures on the form by the city of LaFayette employee that filed them against Mr Freeman and Mr White. If someone can step out on a limb and produce that, then that will show me that either A ) There is truely some validity to this story on part of the person that’s a city employee that filed the complaint or B ) The person is a complete dumbass and just looking to get a lawsuit shoved where the sun don’t shine.

  12. While it credits that this was linked to Mark White, what it fails MISERABLY to mention is, that this was his own public relations vehicle. As for no firefighter ever being asked to do mechanical work on a vehicle that belongs to the City or County that’s beyond ridiculous. While the City and/or County may have “mechanical contracts” with someone to do work, those people aren’t always at their beckon call to do maintence on a vehicle so while it’s rare it is known for fire fighters, emt’s ,police officers etc to do maintence on their own vehicles or that of others when necessary. As for anyone wishing to call me out; I’ve been the ONLY one to come out and admit to whom I am…and I am by far a hard person to find…I’ll meet anyone anywhere,any time to DISCUSS anything they may well wish.

    I fear NO ONE or NOTHING living and breathing on Earth today, and if ANYONE wishes to schedule a meeting with me FACE TO FACE then by all means please do so and I will be MORE than welcome to take them up on the offer to meet. However I seriously DOUBT anyone will own up to calling me out and be willing to face me anywhere, anytime….NOW that I’m proving in my own words that I’m willing to ….

  13. Uncovering The Underground, maybe you should retract that 50,000.00 remark and wait until Officer Reyes has his time with his lawyer and their day in court…and as far as white and freeman go with the radio, should have gotten a mechanic to do that! Oh and BTW the racial remarks were heard in front of many many witnesses, so 50,000.00 will be of your loss very soon, maybe someone should inform Officer Reyes of this 50k reward so he can get it.

  14. WQCH, 03/21/2012:

    JOHNNY STEPHENS JR. – A 14 YEAR EMPLOYEE OF THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE – WAS FIRED TWO WEEKS AGO ON THE RECOMMENDATION OF PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR TOMMY FREEMAN. AT THE FIREMAN’S APPEAL HEARING TUESDAY NIGHT… THE CITY COUNCIL VOTED 4 TO 0 TO UPHOLD THE TERMINATION.

    STEPHENS AND HIS SUPPORTERS SPOKE TO COUNCIL MEMBERS FOR AN HOUR AND 15 MINUTES, BEFORE AN EXECUTIVE SESSION WAS CALLED. COUNCILMAN CHRIS DAVIS RECUSED HIMSELF FROM THE HEARING, BECAUSE HE IS STEPHENS’ LANDLORD.

    THE CHARGE OF INSUBORDINATION CAME WHEN STEPHENS WAS ASKED TO INSTALL A RADIO INTO A PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT TRUCK. “I NEVER SAID NO”, STEPHENS SAID… BOTH TIMES, I ASKED “WHY”. COUNCILMAN BEN BRADFORD LATER SAID “ASKING WHY IS THE SAME THING AS SAYING NO”. HE ASKED STEPHENS IF HE WOULD RESPOND DIFFERENTLY NOW… AND HE REPLIED “NO – YOU HAVE TO STAND UP FOR YOURSELF”. SHOWING PRIDE IN HIS JOB… STEPHENS ALSO SHOWED COUNCIL MEMBERS A LARGE “LAFAYETTE FIRE DEPARTMENT” TATTOO ON HIS FOREARM.

    STEPHENS STARTED WITH THE CITY GAS DEPARTMENT… AND BECAME A FIREMAN ABOUT 5 YEARS AGO. HE SAID HE HAD INSTALLED RADIOS IN SEVERAL POLICE AND FIRE VEHICLES BEFORE. HE CONTINUED: “I WANTED TO KNOW WHY IT WAS MY JOB TO INSTALL A RADIO IN A PUBLIC WORKS VEHICLE… ANOTHER EMPLOYEE GOT PAID FOR INSTALLING RADIOS, BUT NOT ME”.

    CITY MANAGER FRANK ETHERIDGE SAID THE CITY IS INSTALLING RADIOS, FORMERLY USED IN POLICE PATROL CARS, INTO THE PUBLIC WORKS VEHICLES. POLICE CRUISERS HAVE BEEN UPGRADED TO NEWER-MODEL RADIOS. ETHERIDGE SAID THE RADIOS WOULD ALLOW CITY HALL AND THE PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT TO DIRECT WORKERS TO NEW CALLS, AS THEY COME IN.

    STEPHENS TESTIFIED THAT HE AND OTHER DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES ARE FREQUENTLY “CUSSED” BY CHIEF FREEMAN. “WE CAN’T TALK TO HIM, HE JUST BLOWS UP AND STARTS CUSSING”, STEPHENS SAID… “BUT I DIDN’T EXPECT IT TO GO THIS FAR”.

    STEPHENS HAD OTHER COMPLAINTS ABOUT HIS JOB AT THE FIRE DEPARTMENT… SAYING THE FULL-TIME FIREMEN HAVE HAD THEIR CALLS RESTRICTED… WHICH AMOUNTS TO A CUT IN PAY. AND AS THE PAID STAFF DRIVE THE FIRE ENGINES TO THE SCENE… HE SAID THEY’RE NEVER SURE HOW MANY OF THE VOLUNTEER FIRE FIGHTERS WILL ANSWER A CALL. “IT’S DANGEROUS”, HE SAID.

    STEPHENS’ SUPPORTERS SAID “THIS IS A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT” AND “YA’LL SHOULDN’T LET THEM BE ABUSED”. ANOTHER SAID “THESE PEOPLE NEED THEIR JOBS… THAT’S WHY THEY PUT UP WITH IT”.

    COUNCILMAN BRADFORD ASKED STEPHENS A SUMMARY QUESTION: “SO YOU’RE MAD BECAUSE HOURS WERE CUT… YOU’RE MAD BECAUSE CALLS WERE RESTRICTED… AND SO YOU GOT PICKY ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD BE WILLING TO DO?” AND STEPHENS AGREED. ASSISTANT PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR BENJI CLIFT TOLD THE COUNCIL THAT FIREMAN STEPHENS TOLD HIM: “IF YA’LL ARE GONNA’ BE ASSES TO ME, I’M GONNA BE AN ASS TO YA’LL”.

    AFTER THE COUNCIL VOTED TO UPHOLD THE TERMINATION… MAYOR NEAL FLORENCE THANKED STEPHENS FOR HIS YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE CITY.

    COUNCILMAN WAYNE SWANSON OFFERED ADVICE TO ALL CITY EMPLOYEES, SAYING “DON’T DISOBEY AN ORDER… DO WHAT YOU’RE ASKED… AND THEN FILE A COMPLAINT THROUGH THE PROPER CHANNELS”. ADDING TO THAT… COUNCILMAN BRADFORD TOLD FIREMAN STEPHENS: “IF THIS HAD BEEN HANDLED CORRECTLY, WE’D BE ASKING DIFFERENT QUESTIONS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE”… REFERRING, HE SAID, TO CHIEF FREEMAN.

  15. Can’t believe everyone is sticking up for that damn snake in the grass Mark White. He is the biggest piece of shit in town, remember in high school when he was nobody with buck teeth and a fro! Just a fat arrogant bastard that has some strings that he can pull to get him places in that town, so glad I don’t pay taxes there anymore. Open your eyes people, look at the half ass built homes he has built, hell look at his personal home trust me it’s thrown together like shit. Just wake up and get rid of that pompous ass!

  16. I figured I would call someone’s bluff about confronting me face to face and they would back down…..buckle up or bow down baby……buckle up or bow down…..

  17. Buckle up or bow down?

    Just what kind of moron are you? I pray you’re not in the city government, but I have a real suspicion that you are. God help this screwed-up, and corrupt little town.

  18. Exactly why I got the hell out of there! Send my kids to school in Lafayette?! Hell no! I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that the way the city officials act around there is the way to act!!!

  19. P.s. uncovering the underground….don’t you know it’s not good to show people your hand while gambling?! Wait till those witnesses show up in court! Send me ur address so I can collect my 50 k…sure ur wife won’t be happy knowing u just made a stupid mistake and put $50k down on my new house!!!!

  20. Buckle up or bow down? Really haven’t you gotten in trouble for those kinda actions before? Don’t think anyone here is afraid of you either, it’s the aftermath cause of the people that are in your pockets and ones your in as well.

  21. Right there with you markehithater!!!!

  22. Same here Evangeline, but don’t get me wrong I love Lafayette, love the area, nut cant stand the people running it. That place only does things that benefits the heads of the bank of Lafayette, and the members of the golf coarse (which I used to be ), it’s just like all that money spent on it, should’ve been spent on remodeling the rec department. Like new floors so the kids don’t break their ankles playing basketball, or fixing up Lowell green, hell anything that would benefit the kids around here. But mark never has done A DAMN thing to help anyone anywhere. He runs his businesses with a bully, uneducated,tude pompous, arrogant, no talent redneck tactics. If he was half as bad as his mouth and his fortitude he’d be a hard man to handle and I’d probably back down from his little “meeting” as he calls it.

  23. Actually no I’m no city employee just a 32 year resident of LaFayette,Georgia and afraid of no one nor impressed by someone that sits behind a keyboard blabs all day, calls someone out then doesn’t own up to their invitation. I’ll meet anyone; anywhere; anytime. I’m willing to come alone, unarmed and meet face to face with ANYONE whom wishes to get off their chest what they wish to get off to my face. By the way I’m still waiting to see a copy of that formal complaint form rather some piece of notebook paper with a statement written on it by a FEMALE. In closing, does a LaFayette Underground contributor, supporter, owner ,etc want to meet me face to face or not ? I’m highly interested in knowing what someone has to say to me face to face…name the time, place,date I’ll be there.

  24. So uncover who are you calling out, LU, or anyone? Not sure that LU is looking for impressions to be made on anyone. I think they are just informing people of how corruption is destroying that town, not sure why anyone would have a problem with that. I don’t agree with everything that LU has to say, but I promise you I know Mark White personally and I can’t stand him. Wouldn’t piss on him during the council fire I hope they roster him on.

  25. I love haters who hide behind a computer if you were a real man you would sit down and discuss your issues with that person. However in life if a person strives from nothing and becomes successful they will have haters. At least with haters they keep you famous in a small town.Lol

  26. Come on boy … Buckle up or bow down!!!

    That’s sweet ?

  27. As with Johnny Stephens, we don’t know if the firing of officer Reyes (which isn’t official until the City Manager reviews it) is justified or not. We keep getting a mixture of information, none of which I’ll repeat for the sake of argument, both defending and slamming him as an officer and as a person. The TVA thing mentioned is only one theory.

    Ultimately we know that many of the problems at LPD and LaFayette Fire come from Freeman, he sets the tone and attitude of the entire department. If you want good honest cops who respect the citizens, you must have a chief who is the same. If you have a chief with none of those qualities, then don’t expect to get much out of the department. His poor behavior is the reason why officers have bad morale, why many don’t care anymore, or care and can’t do anything. That needs to be addressed even if Reyes’ termination is justifiable. Whatever Reyes was fired for, there are likely other officers doing the same or worse and getting away with it because they play the right political games… Freeman should also go because with his reputation even a JUSTIFIED firing is questioned.

    Hopefully we’ll know more about the Denny Reyes firing soon, and expect the city to address Freeman’s abuses within the next six or eight weeks. They don’t have any excuses to wait longer than that.

    – LU

  28. I think this has turned more into a “lets all dig dirt on everyone who works for the city and make them all look bad because we’re trash bags, and we want to rule Lafayete!” YEAH, good idea. Maybe if you would show yourself we could dig something up on you and make you look better, that way all of the trash would be on our side… oh but wait, we have better things to do, like JOBS, and families. For you other people who are following him, complaining about your “effin” kids going to “damn” Lafayette and you couldn’t wait to get the “hell” out of here.. Maybe it’s good you take them because we def. don’t want kids who get raised in a home like that here. :) Mark White built my house, still standing.. pretty nice if i do say so myself. I’m not really close with him or his family, normal just like everyone else on here I’m just handling this in a more mature manner. As far as Reyes goes, why is everyone getting upset about him getting fired? Everyone wants Lafayette to do better, but when they do.. you then hate on them about that? What if they wouldn’t have fired him? I’m sure everyone would be on here saying how he WAS supposed to be fired because he went against the rules and handeled the situation poorly. Same goes for the fire fighter. If he has done it before, he apparently didn’t have a problem with it then. So why would he now? Lafayette Underground is entertainment.

  29. Keep up the good work on exposing the corruption! I enjoy knowing that people are actually willing to take a stand against corruption and law breaking. As far as Officer Reyes, wheather it be now, or on down the road, God will show justice to those whom stay true to the lord. Thank you supporters, and friends, people who truly know what a good OFFICER. He is!

  30. I agree, I believe Reyes is a very good officer. My dad is also an officer, and I don’t know what I would do if people were making god awful untrue accusations about him like this. Especially when that is obvisouly not the problem here!

  31. I wasnt raised to act like trash. So I suppose I have let my anger grab the best of me when it comes to my family. I know what kind of man he is, and that is all that matters. I hope that People continue the positive feedback and reinforcement.

  32. Thank you concerned citizen! Thank you!

  33. no one complained about their “effin” kids going to lafayette. she simply said she did’nt want her children going to school there and as i looked up to her posts, she did’nt call her children “effin”. I don’t blame her either. why would anyone want their children to grow up listening to the things that people say about their loved ones. I know I would’nt want my children to grow up hearing people spread rumors about their family members. Either way, she was right in saying that she was not raised to act like trash, but someone can only take the pain of watching a loved one being ripped to shreds for so long. hopefully she will read this and find peace in the idea that no matter what others say, facts are what matter, and even with facts, peole all make mistakes. People love Denny Reyes and many are supportive and hope that he finds justice in the matters at hand. Many are praying for him and his family in this harsh time of need.

  34. We have, unfortunately, had to remove several comments from this discussion because they were referring to people who aren’t involved directly in the matters at hand. Please remember that anyone who comments can use any name they choose, so the person you think is posting might not be behind the screen. Personal information about several families was posted without their permission, and we’ve redacted that along with the responses referring to it.

    Officer Reyes’ termination isn’t based on who he did or didn’t have relationships with off the clock, so if you can refrain from going into that territory again we would certainly appreciate it.

    – LU

  35. I find it pathetic since the blasting of a detective and how they allegedly handled those fire investigations (which in fact the detective wasn’t the one the case was originally signed to ). That no one with the LaFayette Underground, either people that support LaFayette Underground or it’s “unknown contributors” and owner wishes to come out of the wood work from behind the smoke screens they hide behind ; go to meetings ,bring up topics, write local politicians, call and ask questions of concern.

    Instead all LaFayette Underground wishes to do is post either totally fabricated nonsense that anyone with a pre-school education could realize is absolute absurd, nonsense,etc or anything that was remotely “investigated” was only investigated halfway. For example the power outage situation. The week of March 26 the power went out one day for an extended period of time. How long it went out exactly I don’t know I was in town for the most part of it being out. However, I can 100% vouch that it was NOT because of a helicopter carrying a chainsaw that cut a line. The reason I know this is because the day prior to the chainsaws even showing up ; the power went out for an extended period of time. I called NWGAEMC (Northwest Georgia Electric Membership Corporation for those who don’t know your abbreviations). And the person that answered the phone explained to me that a computerized system that controls the power grid within a certain area that was currently at that time effected was going heywire. The VERY NEXT DAY when the power went out for yet ANOTHER extended period of time, when the Helicopters were out with those Chainsaws, I called NWGAEMC and AGAIN a person that took my outage report call said the same thing, that there was an issue with a computer system of their’s that controlled the power grid was not working properly causing power outages in the area . Now , I have to know what I’m talking about why? Because I happen to live in the same general area that these helicopters were flying around using those saws. So, it wasn’t the helicopters with chainsaws that caused the power outages. But I suppose LaFayette Underground or their supporters wouldn’t know that considering anytime anyone has something to say that proves LaFayette Underground wrong on something; that person gets blocked. And more than likely my post will not be approved and I’ll be banned from posting on here rather than just their Facebook page. As Jack Nicholson once said in the film “A Few Good Men”… “You want the truth ? You can’t handle the truth ! “.

  36. “F.U.L.U.” (a/k/a Harold Waycasie) said:

    “I find it pathetic since the blasting of a detective and how they allegedly handled those fire investigations (which in fact the detective wasn’t the one the case was originally signed to ).”

    You’re correct that the detective who took credit for the investigation had nothing to do with it. As we’ve said, the detective who originally investigated those crimes gave up and left LPD because the department wouldn’t give him any support for the investigation. Detective Meeks inherited the case and did nothing with it until someone else (Harold’s juvenile friend we named) pointed fingers at the man arrested to save himself from being charged with the crimes. Meeks had never looked at the case file until then and actually had to call the retired officer to find out where the file was so he could press charges against the former city employee who had set some of the fires.

    The rest of that comment doesn’t even deserve a response.

    – LU

  37. Harold,

    What exactly is NWGAEMC??
    I don’t know that abbreviation … my electricity comes from NGEMC.

  38. Harold,

    You are blocked from the LU FB page because you are a foul-mouth punk. You have a history threatening young women online, claim to be Christian, yet say things that contradict your Bible-thumping. You’ve challenged several people to confront you in person, and when they make an attempt in a public place, you wheel yourself away like a little girl. You’ve targeted several people by name, posted photos, accused them of being molesters and ramble on about issues that you know nothing about, or make up details in your head.

    I think that LU has given you more of a voice than you deserve, so be lucky that you can express most of your delusional opinions here.

  39. Thank you for those slanderous/libelous statements; a print out has been made and given to my attorney. Their office will be contacting you shortly via e-mail to verify the contact information of your attorney. Since you claim to have one. Secondly no one has ever offered to meet me face to face (nor do I walk away from any conversation someone may wish to engage with me, I love talking to people).. Third, I live right in front of or behind however you wish to look at it in relation to HWY 151 right off 136. And I did in fact contact NWGAEMC , I have that conversation recorded ; would you like me to e-mail the MP3 to you? Considering this is the state of Georgia, and this state has a 1 party consent law, I was legally able to make that recording without telling the person on the other line. However as you may know they do for courtesy let you know the conversation is being recorded for quality assurance. I however recorded it because I knew that those at LaFayette Underground would make something out of it, I’m honestly shocked that Mark White didn’t get the blame for the power outage. Oh and before I go as for my “false accusations” of LaFayette Underground membership….these were confirmed by a well known resource….this person that confirmed it happens to be one of you guys, that’s also working for me……you can thank me whenever you wish for planting that mole. I will say though I do miss seeing you guys writting on note pads and laptops in those meetings and not realizing people know who you guys are. Ciao !
    P.S. The fact that the Helicopter didn’t fall from the sky is enough proof in itself that the saw blade didn’t hit a powerline causing the power outage. How can I prove this? In larger cities in the West Coast particularly in Los Angeles,San Francisco in California Police are now outfitted with what’s called “Vehicle Tasers” it’s a device that darts into a vehicle similar to a taser that can be used to subdue a human suspect although much larger due to the fact it’s used for vehicles , this device is designed to disrupt a vehicles electrical system (battery, distributor cap,etc ) and when this device is implimented it almost immeadiatelystops the vehicle without any harm to the person driving. What does this have to do with the saw blade hitting a powerline? An overhead powerline can exceed as much as 750,000 volts of electricity. About the same amount as the “vehicle tasers” that are in use in California, with that being said, once the electricity from the powerline hit the metal blade of a saw it would have caused a surge throughout the helicopter disabling the engine and causing it to fall from the sky. Now granted at the relatively low heights they were flying for the most part I highly doubt anyone would have been killed, possibly and hopefully had it happened just minorly injured. But, the fact is that helicopter didn’t fall from the sky, due to a power line being sliced hence it was NOT the saw blade that caused the outage. And as for me not knowing what I’m talking about, I’m the ONLY one that knows what I’m talking about on here besides those like me that wish to challenge your LACK of knowledge

  40. So why do you block everyone on FB if you are so fearless? Why do you have recent local police reports with your name on it for harassment?

    Opinion is not libel nor slander, but harassment and recording phone calls are against the law. Any good lawyer at this point would tell you to refrain from commenting online.

    Maybe your mole is feeding you false information? Perhaps I’m your mole just playing with your head, Harold??? The LU Army is a vast and tight bunch. And many of us don’t need to hide our identities.

  41. I took notes for LU at eight or ten different council meetings 2009-2011 and never once saw Harold there. He’s not hard to miss, looks like Curly from the 3 Stooges with a wheelchair. Used to see him at BiLo all the time. Most of the time nobody was there in the meetings except city employees, some old ladies, and Mr. Gwynn from the radio, plus me. I stood out and it was obvious what I was doing but it was also obvious Harold wasn’t there. Maybe during the Robby tate meeting when the place was jammed full but I dont think so, he’s pretty hard to miss.

  42. Harold, you fit perfectly in LaFayette … you should move to town, and run for council.

  43. I don’t agree with Harold, but you guys are sounding like middle school girls mentioning him being in a wheel chair. So what if he is in the wheel chair? Seriously? Lol

  44. I don’t think it matters except for making him easier to spot. When you see Harold there’s no doubt who he is. Being in a chair doesn’t make him any more or less of a person – that’s what his imagination and creepy behavior do.

    – LU

  45. I guess his imaginary lawyer told him to stop commenting.

  46. Typical L.U. supporters,contributors and owners….make up stuff when someone proves you all wrong on something……it’s NOT my fault that a computer messed up multiple days in a row that controls certain power grids…..had I been a technician with the NWGAEMC one could say that it was my fault. Sorry that they’re NOT my employer. By the way, who is it that I’m allegedly married to that I’ve been abusing and cheating on? Thus far several members of L.U. are gathering lately and discussing how for years I’ve been cheating on my wife….good luck trying to find a marriage certificate, I’m not married…never have been…..Oh and the reason I don’t comment on here more than I do….it’s called havng a life and a job……oh and another thing…I don’t block people it’s called Facebook settings……there is this thing called a Help Forum you guys might want to do keyword searches and check it out (that’s what it’s there for ).

  47. Harold, you don’t need a lawyer, you need a doctor.

    I TOTALLY believe that you are not married! And can understand why.

  48. Wow this is all the proof I need. I do not live in Lafayette, Ga, but for the past three years I have spent a good amount of time here in walker county. Well I am African American and I have a white girl friend, and I started noticing that my driving just happens to be illegal in this county. I do driving in at least five other counties around here, but I only get harassed in lafayette. For proof I stopped driving my car, and drove a car that was not connected to me. Would you know it, that I was not getting pulled over for ridiculous things. O know racism still exist, but I didnt expect a whole county of police, sheriffs, and state patrols to team up and single someone out for being in an interacial relationship. I know someone is thinking hat if I can’t take it, then I should stay out of lafayette. Well that’s not going to happen. I am going to keep going to court so they can keep dropping my charges. But when they soo actually force me to fight the charges they will be surprised has to how well prepared I am. You see I feel that this ancient county deserves whatever comes to them when they loose a very public lawsuit. There are a lot of nice human beings in lafayette. I can even deal with the racist citizens that has respect enough to be decent people in public. But for people that abuse their power for their own beliefs and feelings, you all will get what is coming to you one day. I am not going anywhere, so keep on pushing me. I am doing the right thing at the moment for my family’s sake, but to be honest I really don’t care if it ends badly for me as long as everyone of you pay for what you are doing.

  49. Well, were you breaking traffic laws? I’m as white as they come, and I get pulled over and ticketed when I break traffic laws. I’ve found the law to be equal opportunity around here, and the only color that matters to them is green.

    Look at the Walker County Sheriff’s report (with pictures on the Messenger website), and you’ll see that the offenders are by a vast majority, white. Good luck on finding a lawyer to stick his head into this arena. You better have a lot more than what I suspect you have to go down this rabbit trail.

  50. Fortunately, Tommy Freeman has never actually done traffic stops (or much of anything actually..) so the racism he displayed wasn’t reflected in behavior on the street. Two of the most aggressive traffic cops LaFayette has are Hispanic, Denny and Jill, and I’ve always found them to be fair while they enforce the law.

    Most discrimination issues left in this community are issues of class and money, not race. Is there racism? Yes. Does it have much influence? Not from what I’ve seen. A black middle-class person is better off here than a poor white person, not just from a perspective of resources but socially and legally.

    – LU

  51. Wow, this is old, but crazy Harold is at it again :) So amusing!

  52. Stop race mixing as ts wrong!