Former Deputy City Manager David Arrington's abrupt retirement last month was precipitated by the discovery of an affair he had with a subordinate in the city's Inspections and Code Department, over which he was interim director, according to documents obtained through the Georgia Open Records Act.
The subordinate, Inspections Service Coordinator Marsha Thomas, previously had an affair with the former assistant director of the department, Danny Cargill, just prior to his departure from the city payroll in April of 2012, the documents state. Thomas is still on the city payroll, earning $33,600 in the Inspections and Code Department.
Although rumors of Arrington's and Thomas' affair had permeated the City Annex at 420 10th St., which houses Arrington's office and the Inspections and Code offices, accounts of how long it went on vary from eight months to two years, according to interviews conducted by city Human Resources Director Reather Hollowell. In her investigation of the situation, Hollowell interviewed seven city employees, including Arrington and Thomas.
The affair apparently came to light when Arrington's wife, Carmen Arrington, also a city employee, found out about it and confronted David Arrington in his office, with Thomas present for at least part of the encounter. Carmen Arrington had discovered the affair when she found an iPhone that Thomas had given David Arrington so they could communicate without using city-issued cellphones, documents state.
In the first week of February, Carmen Arrington came to the City Annex to confront her husband, several employees told Hollowell. An Inspections and Code employee told Hollowell, according to a report, that "she heard Carmen's voice but she did not hear David's voice. After Carmen left, David came out of his office, he looked very upset."
Hollowell also interviewed Carmen Arrington about the incident in her husband's office.
"She said there were no witnesses to her discussion with her husband although an employee was at the door of her husband's office before she began talking to him," Hollowell wrote. "She asked the person to leave and closed the door for privacy."
Subsequently, Hollowell interviewed David Arrington and Thomas about the situation.
David Arrington told Hollowell that Thomas was not given any special treatment or favors and that her job was never conditioned upon their relationship. He said the relationship was consensual.
Thomas told Hollowell that the affair was "completely consensual and she was not pressured in any way to have a relationship with him."
Thomas told Hollowell, according to a report, that "she gave him an iPhone that she had originally purchased for her son but had taken it away because of his bad behavior. She purchased another cell phone for herself, and she and David primarily communicated this way."
Thomas told Hollowell that the weekend of March 7-8, Carmen Arrington apparently found the iPhone.
"She says she called the phone on Monday, March 9, when David didn't show up for a meeting. Carmen answered the phone and told her that David was using her and that she was just a fling," Hollowell's report states.
Hollowell reported that Thomas knew that the relationship with Arrington was wrong and that it violated city policies.
"She says she loves David but it was over between them," Hollowell wrote. "She says she was hurt and felt used."
Asked to comment on the situation, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said Hollowell's report "speaks for itself."
"We have city-wide policies in place to address such issues, and we apply them across the board," Tomlinson said. "It's one of those things that we have to apply to keep order and keep everybody's mind on the job. We have to have those things in place."
City Attorney Clifton Fay said that Thomas has been disciplined in the past, but that he could not comment on any current action because of a "pending investigation of an anonymous complaint."
Thomas, contacted Thursday at the Inspections and Code office, declined to comment.
Arrington said he has been honored to work for the city in several capacities for 29 years, and that he is grateful to have had the chance to help improve the city's quality of life and help solve citizens' problems.
"Although I've fallen short many times in reaching that goal, I've always worked hard to reach the goal," Arrington said. "I've devoted a significant part of my life to public service. At this point in my life, it's my priority to focus my time on my family and on my future."