WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — An email battle broke out this week between Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms and one council member, as the two swapped personal complaints and charges about discipline, politics, and racial discrimination.
It all started with an email where council member Daron Lee seemed to compare the plight of black Warner Robins city employees to the Holocaust, slavery, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Trail of Tears.
"I tried my best not to make this a situation that has to do with race," Lee wrote in that Nov. 10 email, "but the decisions made by the City of Warner Robins made it that way. It is obvious that African American employees and the Caucasian do not have the same Human Resources employee handbook/playbook."
Lee's email doesn't name any names, but he appears to cite some recent Warner Robins city controversies -- like the three public works employees who were fired in September for using public equipment on private property without permission.
An outside judge later said the city should rehire two of them, and the third retired.
Lee sent his email to all city employees and copied several outsiders, including the Houston Home Journal newspaper.
He went on to take shots at Toms.
Lee wrote, "I know how you feel about the Lee family, especially me... I did not know you hated me that bad."
Toms sent his response two days later, disputing many of Lee's points.
He invited any city employees who had complaints about "harassment and/or bullying" to reach out to the city's Human Resources Department.
Toms said he would make sure those complaints reached "the proper authorities."
Several times, Toms challenged Lee's facts and urged him to name specific individuals.
He also wrote, "I have never spoken or thought ill of your parents, grandmother or any children.... I still like your brother. I have also said, in so many words, I do not like your actions, attitude, demeaning and accusatory emails and statements, and though I have tried, we apparently have a mutual dislike for each other. I suppose it is better with us acknowledging that fact."
While neither Lee nor Toms mentioned it, Lee's brother is Gary Lee, the city's development director. A Houston County grand jury this spring indicted Gary Lee on two counts of falsely reporting a crime and one count of making a false statement.
They appear to result from Gary Lee's complaint that someone at city hall tampered with employee documents.
Below are the full emails Toms and Lee sent to each other.
Reporter Sarah Hammond will have more at 5 and 6 p.m. on 13WMAZ.
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