Petelos takes stand in consent decree trial - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Petelos takes stand, claims he always wanted things done "correctly"

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

On the stand, Friday, County Manager Tony Petelos says when it came to the process of laying off workers back in December of 2011, he tried to handle it the right way.

"Every witness dodges questions to some degree," Plaintiff attorney, Rowan Wilson, said. "There are some things that [Petelos] said that I believe and there's some things he said that I don't believe. But it really doesn't matter what I believe, I'm not the judge."

Wilson says the issue of violating the consent decree, which mandates the county to not discriminate against the hiring of African Americans and women is nothing new.

"Beginning in 1983...all the way up to the present," he said.

Petelos, who took office in October of 2011, says when he came into office it was in turmoil. And at the forefront of that was bankruptcy.

"The one thing that I do believe that Mr. Petelos said is that I believe he was very busy with the bankruptcy and was coming into a new situation and that day one on the job he had a lot of things to figure out," Wilson said.

Figuring out things like how to make ends meet on an estimated $40 million shortfall. Petelos told the court he thought the answer was riffs, which is an act of bumping jobs based on position and seniority.

Wilson says it violated the consent decree by not considering the race and gender of employees. Petelos says he worked closely with his legal team, human resources and the Jefferson County Personnel Board to do the right thing. But Wilson points the finger of blame at Petelos.

"He was in charge," Wilson said. "Harry Truman said 'The buck stops here'."

Court will be back in session Monday at 9:00 a.m.

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