City fires IT director TuesdayPublished 12:06am Wednesday, April 24, 2013
NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez fired its information technology director Tuesday, and the mayor and the former director have differing opinions about the reason.
Mayor Butch Brown said IT director Eric Junkin has not been forthcoming in solving issues with the city’s computer systems. One of the problems, Browns said, is that the laptops purchased for police patrol cars have not yet been installed.
“It’s just a collection of things that should have been done that haven’t been done that are hamstringing the city’s operations,” Brown said.
Junkin was hired in March 2012 by the Natchez Board of Aldermen prior to Brown taking office in July.
Junkin said installing the laptops in the patrol cars is not as easy as just taking them out of the box and installing them in the cars. He said the laptops have to be set up, along with login information for the officers, and the laptops tested.
As a one-man department, Junkin said the laptops’ installation has been delayed because he has been bogged down with running around to the various city departments daily to attend to IT needs.
Junkin chocked up his termination to personality differences with Mayor Butch Brown and City Hall staff.
“I’m very accepted in all the other departments and seen as an asset, but I’m not very well liked in City Hall,” he said.
Brown said he’s seen “discontent” among the City Hall employees with Junkin’s performance.
Junkin said he has attempted to work with City Hall staff on various procedures and ways to streamline their work but has been met with resistance.
Brown also said a “legal” issue related to Junkin’s job was brought to Junkin’s attention Tuesday by City Attorney Hyde Carby.
“He blew up and had some very caustic and nasty things to say to (Carby),” Brown said. “We got concerned because of that they he might violate the security of our system.”
Brown declined to specify the legal issue, saying litigation could be involved.
Junkin said it is an absolute lie that he had any kind of outburst today to what he said is more of an ethical issue, rather than a legal issue. Junkin also declined to specify the issue.
Junkin said he called Carby about the issue, and the two discussed it without any harsh words or outbursts. He said he was assisting a city employee with a computer issue when Police Chief Danny White came to City Hall to escort Junkin out of the building.
“I am not a person to hide anything about an outburst,” Junkin said. “If I pounded my fist on the table and threw a fit … I am the first one to admit … because generally feel like I am justified,” Junkin said.
Brown said since he was out of town, he instructed City Clerk Donnie Holloway to confiscate Junkin’s keys to City Hall.
The mayor will ask the board of aldermen to retroactively approve Junkin’s termination at its next meeting, he said.
Brown said that the city has been interviewing IT director candidates for the past six weeks. He said the position has not been re-advertised, and those interviewed were in the running when Junkin was originally hired.