The motion by member Larry Hestely referenced problems with “interpersonal relationships Richard has had with staff and some key customers.” It followed a half-hour discussion in closed session and passed unanimously.
RFPRA Chairman Jerry Lee said Garland has had difficulty working with people in the past, and recent complaints moved the board to take action.
He said Garland fired several people without first consulting the board and “has strained relationships” with several organizations that work closely with the RFPRA.
“In a position such as his, so much is PR (public relations),” Lee said. “There’s no question Richard is very good at the mechanics of running the authority, but we have partnerships with groups — like the NAIA, the high schools, the Coosa Valley Tennis Association — and the people in the community.”
Garland was reprimanded in 2008 for personality conflicts and sent to a Dale Carnegie course on human relations, from which he graduated at the top of his class.
Lee said the suspension without pay is the final step in the RFPRA’s progressive disciplinary policy. Members who attended the special called meeting and joined the vote were Hestely, Jerry Collins, David Mathis, Caroline Blalock, Sonya Blankenship, Sam Sprewell, Rome City Commissioner Milton Slack III and Floyd County Commissioner Larry Maxey.
Garland declined to comment about the action.