Tacoma Fires DV Advocate Fortson in Wake of Ethics Violations

The City of Tacoma has ended its lengthy discipinary process regarding DV advocate Gloria China Fortson by firing her. Read about it here (Tacoma News Tribune, 9/2/10). Hearing Examiner Rodney Kerslake had found that Fortson had violated ethics rules and misused city funds. City Manager Eric Anderson announced Fortson’s firing on Thursday, September 2nd.

Fortson’s troubles stem from a domestic violence claim levelled by Keisha Jackson at her husband Kelvin during a dispute over child custody. The matter was investigated by the police and family court officials who found no evidence to support the claim. The family court issued an order allowing Keisha Jackson to take the couple’s children to Florida for a maximum of three weeks, but Fortson used city funds to rent a van knowing that Jackson intended to remain in Florida with the children.

All of that became the subject of Kelvin Jackson’s civil lawsuit against the City of Tacoma for interfering with his access to his children. The city paid him $29,000 to settle the suit based on Fortson’s behavior.

For about eight months, during the pendency of her appeal of the findings of ethics violations, Fortson continued to receive her annual salary of $61,000.

The city has not yet decided whether to replace Fortson. She has filed suit against the city for wrongful termination.

It’s my impression that in most cases in which governments are the employers, when an employee gets fired, the stated cause is not the only cause. It’s often the case that an employee begins to look like a bad actor and management develops a file detailing same. When the firing occurs, management will often hang its hat on one or two of the more egregious violations while keeping the rest in the background.

I dont’ know if that happened in Fortson’s case, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Whether it did or didn’t, Fortson has always struck me as one of the true believers among the set of DV advocates. That is, she looks like one who, if a woman says she was abused, Fortson believes her irrespective of facts to the contrary. That led her to take part in Keisha Jackson’s scheme to kidnap her and Kelvin’s children.

Lax city oversight of DV funds convinced Fortson that she wouldn’t get caught, but when Kelvin Jackson filed suit, the truth came to light. I suspect – again without knowing – that Gloria Fortson had played fast and loose with city funds before in other cases in which she believed allegations of women claiming victimization.

Those are just guesses on my part, but, now that she’s filed her own suit, the City of Tacoma will have to defend itself. The discovery process may tell us whether my instincts are correct.

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