TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The human resources director for the city of Tallahassee is out amid tension between the HR department and the city's police department over policy.
BREAKING: The City of Tallahassee fired HR Director Ellen Blair. This comes amid tension among city leadership over a Tallahassee Police Officer who kept his job after testing positive for amphetamines. Blair wrote in an email that the drug use is a violation of city policy.— Kendall Brandt (@kendallbrandttv) March 10, 2023
City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow tweeted about the incident Friday afternoon:
Two days after City Management faced public questions over a positive test for illicit drugs, the director of Human Resources that raised the alarm was forced out today.
Fear, intimidation & retaliation has permeated the entire institution.
We’re headed in the wrong direction
— Jeremy Matlow (@JeremyMatlowTLH) March 10, 2023
Matlow has been pushing city leaders for answers on that decision.
Based on emails from Blair to city leaders, Blair also had concerns about keeping the officer on.
While the city has not said if the two are connected, Blair is calling the decision, to let her go after 10 years and no notice, retaliation.
In a statement Blair sent to ABC 27 Friday, it read:
"I believe that my termination was in retaliation for certain reports made to city officials. I am concerned about the message this action by the city sends to the many city employees who everyday do their jobs with integrity and make difficult decisions in the best interests of the city and the citizens of Tallahassee."
Blair's firing came two days after a heated conversation during the City Commission meeting over that officer keeping their job.
The officer's sample was tested in June 2022 and again in July of 2022. In both instances, the sample was positive for amphetamines.
Through ABC 27's public records request, it is known that other city employees who have tested positive for drugs have been fired.
Emails from Blair sent to the assistant city manager showed her concern about the decision to keep the officer on.
In part of an email from July of last year, Blair wrote "Use of a controlled substance by on the job employee is a big deal and may place other employees (as well as the offending employee)
and members on the public in harm's way and jeopardize the city's interests."
While the city has not yet responded to ABC 27's request for cause of Blair's dismissal, Commissioner Jack Porter said this firing is not a coincidence.
Editor's note: The story was updated to note that the officer's sample was tested in June 2022 and again in July 2022.