How the Fox Report was conducted

Feb. 07, 2013 @ 07:29 PM

The idea of conducting the analysis was proposed and voted on in September of 2012. The reasoning was that the city needed to explore why they have a high turnover rate among city managers before hiring a new one. 

The report cost $50,000.

Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein was selected and they concluded their investigation in late December. 

Attorney Anthony Fox led the team of two attorneys, Sarah Hutchins and Mary Crosby. They interviewed about 24 people, including current and former employees. They interviewed the mayor and all city council members, with the exception of Council member Billy Jordan. 

The city management group, consisting of 13 employees, were interviewed, along with support staff. 

The final report noted that all the interviews were conducted with at least two team members present. 

In addition to the interviews, the team reviewed records, minutes and other documents. 

In order to protect anonymity, names were redacted in the released copy, the masculine pronoun was used regardless of gender and the 24 interviews were broken into 49 interviews.

Parker Poe is one of the largest firms in the region. Acting as counsel to municipalities and counties is one of their practice areas. 

The analysis summary stated that "this report contains a fair representation of the major issues within the City organization."

However, some criticisms have been lodged with the methodology and the choice of firms. 

Mayor Bobby Kilgore thought council members should have had a chance to respond to some things in the interviews or verify some statements. 

One of the interviews states that Kilgore, along with Police Chief Debra Duncan, Council member Dottie Nash and Council member Margaret Desio went to Las Vegas for a conference. 

Kilgore said he has never been to Las Vegas.

"If some of my stuff in there is untrue, I don't know what's right and what's wrong," Kilgore said. 

He also responded to the statement that he goes to city hall often. 

"I'm the mayor," Kilgore said. "Sure, I go to city hall. I'm supposed to go to city hall. That's my ob."

He added that he often meets with the manager and sometimes residents. 

He noted that they were small remarks, but he would have liked the opportunity to respond. 

Nash wrote in a statement that the report is "biased and based on rumors instead of facts." 

She noted that the interviewees do not specify if they heard something from a council member or from Herron. 

Jordan did not participate in the study, though the analysis sumary notes that he was contacted several times. 

"I did not see any need in my participating in what I thought was going to be a flawed process," Jordan said. 

He said that Fox has personal relationships with people on the city council and previous city council members. 

Fox served as the attorney for the board of adjustments. He is mentioned many times in the recording of Herron made by Nash. 

"I didn't think he was able to do an unbiased and (fair) report," Jordan said. 

When asked about the perceived conflict of interest in December, Fox said the issues were well addressed. 

"Those issues have been well addressed," Fox said. "I made an appearance before the council prior to the report."

"(The procedure) has been to conduct a series of interviews with not just me, but other attorneys within our firm in two-person teams," Fox explained. "There has also been a review of certain documents and other information from the city."

Nash's statement said that Fox resented her asking if he could be unbiased.

Desio does not see a bias in the report.

"The report does ding on (Council member) Lynn Keziah some, so I don't think it's biased," Desio said.

"To say that Anthony Fox is biased would say that he lied about what these people said," Desio said. "I can't imagine any reason for him to be biased....we asked him to do the job and he did it."

She added that her education is in liberal studies and behavioral sciences and that one of the things she learned is that if you do not like the report, then you attack the reporter.