Publisher's note: If anyone finds fault with the veracity of these well considered words by former Chief Deputy Harry Meredith, we implore you to please take issue with what Mr. Meredith considers to be true right here on BCN, either by comment or by posted article, and you will receive all the space that is reasonable to refute these allegations.
These articles from Chief Deputy Harry Meredith, Ret. are showing a consistent pattern of data, and an intent to express what he believes to be true. The entirety of these ongoing posts can be found archived here.
First, I want to thank Commissioner Hood Richardson
for bringing Sheriff Coleman's out of control spending and abuse of the overtime budget line item to my attention. As a Commissioner, and as he should, Hood looked at the bottom line figure that the taxpayer had to pay. He identified some staff members that received tens of thousands of dollars in overtime which helped me a lot. I decided to study the time sheets and see if there was anyone that worked on Sheriff Coleman's campaign. What I found did not really surprise me. There were several, but I will only focus on his campaign manager, Vic Williams. Please be patient with me as I detail a few numbers on time sheets to make all of this clear.
As in most lessons in life, we must study history to understand the present and put current events into perspective. I want to start with information from almost ten years ago and show you how Ernie figured out how to put approximately $80,000.00 a year plus benefits in his campaign manager's pocket in a mostly do-nothing job.
I started looking at the time sheets for Communications Supervisor Jennifer Elks from June 2013 to May 2014. For the year, she claimed approximately 200 hours of overtime. Please keep that number in mind. She spent more hours than that working the console dispatching so she really did not have any overtime outside dispatching. Basically, she did her job by filling in for others to keep the Communications Center operating.
What does this mean? First, she documented her weekly overtime and adjusted her schedule to reduce costs to the people. Second, most of her overtime came from working the console and dispatching. I can look at her time sheets and see the 6AM to 6PM and 6PM to 6AM entries which tells me she worked a 12-hour shift dispatching.
I then looked at Communications Supervisor Tania Harris' time sheets from August 2014 through May 2015. During Harris' ten months as Supervisor, she worked approximately 148 hours of overtime. Of those hours, she shows 95 hours working on the console dispatching for others. With those numbers in mind, she worked about 53 hours of overtime for the ten month period. Keep that number in mind. She basically worked 8-5 Monday through Friday unless she took a 12-hour shift. I worked at the Sheriff's Office from 1998 through 2011. The time sheets I saw then were similar to the ones detailed above. So, we have about 15 years of similar time sheets showing the Communications Supervisor accumulated less than a hundred hours of overtime in a year outside working on the console. Remember, less than a hundred hours a year for fifteen years.
The history lesson is now over and Vic Williams, Ernie's campaign manager, in June 2015, takes over Communications as Director of 911 Communication Services. Ernie then created an HR Director position for the ousted Harris. How much does this new position cost the taxpayers every year? The county has a HR Director too.
Communicators at the Sheriff's Office have told me Vic was not a certified communicator. This means he could not fill in for Communicators and dispatch calls. Vic, through the Chief Deputy, forced other Communicators to work overtime at the console since he could not do it. Vic made it clear the Chief Deputy would enforce his decision and there would be "trouble"
if anyone refused to work. Vic's signed time sheets indicate he never worked a shift on the console dispatching as the supervisors did the 15 years prior to his being hired.
I could tell you Ernie started Vic off at top pay, but Ernie, being a master of lying by omission, would claim that is a false statement, and it is somewhat. He started Vic at about $100.00 below top pay so he could deny he started Vic at top pay. The next time you see Sheriff Coleman in church direct him to James 4:17
. So in my opinion, omission or commission, a lie is a lie. Please ask anyone in county government if he/she started at, or near, top pay. Ask anyone if he/she has started at top pay in a position for which he/she was not qualified.
Sorry, I used the word qualified. I have to be careful with Ernie. Vic was qualified for the position. He was Ernie's campaign manager and sold boats. When you see Vic or Ernie at church, ask them if Vic was certified to be a Communicator and use the DCI terminal. Remember what Ernie keeps reading to people; he is 'a constitutional officer and can do anything he wants to do'
It didn't take Vic and Ernie long to figure out how to game the system. With Ernie's blessing, Vic managed to work approximately 479.75 hours of overtime in the first six months he was at the Sheriff's Office. Think about that number. For fifteen years the supervisors claimed less than one hundred hours of overtime for an entire year. Vic manages to get almost five times more overtime in just six months. It seems the communications center was in dire need of supervision from someone with little experience. He worked many long 10-17 hour days. What was he doing?
He must have been a dedicated employee. On Facebook he referred to himself as Mr. 911 and said 911 was his life.
The first year, June 2015 to May 2016, Vic worked for Ernie, he claimed approximately 842.5 hours of overtime. This is eight times the average for the fifteen years or so prior to Ernie hiring his campaign manager. I have rarely seen such dedication or deception.
In 2016 Vic only claimed 560.75 hours of undocumented overtime. In October alone he claimed 113 hours of overtime because of a hurricane. In a four day period he worked an average of 18.25 hours a day for total of 73 hours. During this stressful four-day period of hurricane weather his second in command only worked 20 hours. During October his second in command took a total of 96 hours of vacation as Vic struggled to keep communications running.
For an eleven month period, 2017-2018. Vic claimed a total of 422 hours of overtime. He sacrificed all for the good of the county. According to Facebook, his daughter married on October 28, 2017. Vic claimed a total of 51 hours of work the five days before the wedding. Those 10-hour days did not allow him much time for participation in the festivities.
Vic averaged five to eight times the number of overtime hours of any Communications Supervisor during the prior fifteen years. Well, what did he do? His signed, undocumented time sheets indicated he did not work at a console dispatching. Did he ride out in his assigned patrol car to the far reaches of the county in the middle of the night and say, "Can you hear me now, can you hear me now"
on the radio for $80,000.00 a year? He did whatever Ernie told him he could do. He could have driven around the block for 15 hours a day and collected his check. Ernie, as a constitutional officer and elected official, has totally ignored his fiduciary responsibility to the people of the county in order to enrich his personal and political friends. Can Ernie explain why his campaign manager, Vic Williams, had to work so many hours of overtime?
So, I looked at the time sheets to see if there were more patterns I could find. I'll share my observations in no particular order.
Vic worked a lot from noon to 3AM without a break for a total of 15 hours.
Vic liked to come in around 11PM and work until 3AM.
He liked 10-14 hour work days.
He splits his time between the two 12-hour shifts to hide the total number of hours he worked each day.
He provided no documentation for his overtime.
He gave no reason for the odd hours he worked.
The question still remains. What was he doing to justify approximately $80,000.00 a year plus benefits? I have no answer.
In addition to Vic's approximately $80,000.00 he received a year, Ernie gave him a patrol car to drive. Multiple sources said he used the blue light and siren when he wanted. Of course, he was not qualified to do this either. There I go again. I stand corrected. He was eminently qualified. He was Ernie's campaign manager. Vic was not certified and trained to run blue lights and siren.
Where was the highway patrol? Remember what happened to the last Trooper that stopped a Deputy speeding in another county with his child in the car? I do. The trooper got transferred out of the District. Ernie sent a message that the law was for others, not for him or his Deputies. The Troopers must have turned a blind eye to anything Vic did.
Vic is not the only political friend Ernie has hired and lavished high pay and vehicles on in the Office. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, has he spent on them?
Look at the list of people comprising about half of Ernie's staff. Hood published a list of staff members that received what appear to be a raise at random. Ernie will tell you he used left over money in his budget. There is no left over money in a county budget. There are only tax payer dollars left that were not spent as budgeted by the Commissioners. The money belongs to the people, not Sheriff Coleman. The Sheriff took this money and divided it among a select few. Was he trying to buy loyalty and silence? Look at the raises. They range from about $1,000.00 to $37,000.00. Who the heck gets a $37,000.00 increase in pay and title in county government? Who gets $10,000.00? Most county employees get a 2-3% raise in some years but not all. It's good to know Ernie.
Ernie will bring four more years of lying and lawsuits to Beaufort County which will continue to expose his already documented racist attitudes, his lying to the public in an effort to cover up his poor decisions made to bolster his ego, and his lying to the courts under oath. He has shown he will sacrifice Deputies willing to tell the truth after he demands they support his lies.
I understand there are a few open positions at the Sheriff's Office. Anyone care to apply?
Hats off to Beaufort County Now
for being strong and trying to educate the people.
Harry W. Meredith, Jr.