Clarksdale Public Utilities has filed two civil actions in Coahoma County Circuit Court against the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and two former administrators.
Former CPU general manager Mark Johnson and chief financial officer Steve Reed are seeking unemployment compensation after being terminated in September 2018. Director of communications and public relations Chris Campos, who is not being sued, was terminated at the same time.
An investigation of all three employees took place for two months prior to their termination.
Curtis Boschert was named general manager immediately following the termination. Sheila Profit has performed many of Reed’s duties along with CPA consultant Arnold Himelstein. Campos has not been replaced.
CPU board attorney David Hunt said the state statute reads that someone fired for cause is not entitled to unemployment.
“The statute says he’s not entitled to unemployment compensation be it they were terminated for cause,” Hunt said. Hunt added the CPU commission found Johnson and Reed were fired for cause.
The amount of time the case takes depends on the court schedule.
“It’s not a jury,” Hunt said. “It’s going to be before a judge.”
The CPU board has discussed the litigation during executive session at recent meetings.
Johnson, who held his position with CPU for a little more than one year, declined to comment on the matter, but he has sent several emails to local media outlets regarding his thoughts on some of the matters that occurred during his tenure.
Johnson’s most recent email came Tuesday morning regarding concerns of his and Clarksdale whistleblowers about alleged violations at CPU. He says United States Senator Roger Wicker brought his concerns to US Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd with the United States Department of Justice.
Another email came within the last week that past CPU written and verbal statements that a federal wiretapping crime was reported to the FBI are false.
“It has been confirmed that CPU General Manager Curtis Boschert has stated there are no documents evidencing a report made by CPU Board Attorney David R. Hunt to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said Johnson in the email. “Attorney David Hunt has stated both verbally and in writing he made a report of a crime committed by three CPU employees to the FBI.”
Johnson also rebutted statements in an article in the Clarksdale Press Register from the July 23, 2019 CPU meeting. The commission removed statements from the June 26, 2018 meeting indicating commissioner George Miller made inappropriate comments to Johnson during executive session.
Miller said his comments were not inappropriate on July 23, 2019.
Johnson still disagreed.
“Again, in the June 26, 2018 meeting I directed Commissioner Miller not to make inappropriate comments to me, and Commissioner Miller’s nephew Commissioner Jimmy Humber, Commissioner (James) Hicks and Commissioner (Donald) Mitchell were all present when I did so,” said Johnson in an email. “(Then-commissioner Freddie) Davis was absent. Board Attorney David Hunt from Starkville was also present. I twice directed Commissioner Miller not to make such comments to me, and none of CPU Commissioners present indicated I was out of order in any way nor did the CPU Commissioners, who I reported to, issue a disciplinary warning or disciplinary action to me regarding this matter at any time during my employment or paid suspension period while at CPU.”