Jeff L. Thigpen Register of Deeds

Saturday, December 11, 2004

First Week Accomplishments in Register of Deeds Office!

This week was a BLURR!!! Lots of meetings, information, and several decisions. Yes, I did find the bathrooms and break room. I do have lots of keys now--I have no idea where many go. Here are decisions and observations I can recall quickly:

1) Reduced uncertified copy costs to 5 cents from 25 cents. (We went with 5 cents instead of 3 cents because it was easier on staff and our vendor.) Nonetheless, users are happy!

2) Female staff are no longer required to wear pantyhose! Yes, I know this can be taken lots of different ways, but I am happily married and it was a policy of the former Register of Deeds. Of course, folks will still dress professionally!

3) Female staff can wear sleeveless clothes and they can have open-toed shoes during warm months.

4) All staff can wear tennis shoes! Ok, before you go all corporate on me, let me explain. 6 or 7 staff have been given Doctor's notes to wear them due to foot trouble. I think a staff member has even had foot surgery. My staff are on their feet all day; the office is not ergonomically friendly; and I'm a catcher with bad knees. Look, I empathize.

5) The RFP for new technology by the former Register of Deeds has been stopped. It will be rebid in April. Why? 1) Bids ranged from $600,000 to 1.4 million. ( The differential in $ is a tip that the RFP was flawed due vendor interpretation. Picture a gallon of milk ranging from $3 to $7) Next, 2) The process was not thorough with stakeholder input including users, interdepartmental consultation, and Information Services buy-in. 3) We will get a better product and service through a new process.

I apologize to users who've been told all I have to do is follow through with the former Register's process (probably by the former Register), but we can do better and it will be proven with time.

6) I invited the mail staff to my reception on Monday. (As far as I know, I received all the official mail to the Deed's office with no diversions to any unauthorized satellite offices).

7) We are going to move forward with a project to scan indexes back to 1771.

8) I learned we have a vacation policy that is from the Dark Ages. I'll explain it later when I understand it.

9) I can't tell time in my office because my clock is gone!

10) The entire office needs a little "Queer Eye for the Staight Guy!", or I need X-z ibit to "Pimp our Office" (from the MTV show) so to speak. Needless to say, I will work to help make our office more esthetically pleasing for the public in the coming months. The paint is a terrible color, few things on the walls, and the carpet is old school.

11) The counters in the High Point office where engineered by???

12) Charlton Heston's marraige certificate is autographed on the wall in Vital Records. The only one. Hmmn, I have an idea. I'll share it later.

13) I have met with the administrative staff. I hope to meet with supervisors next week and with staff as soon as possible.

14) I went to the District IV meeting of Register of Deeds in Asheboro on Friday. Register of Deeds across NC are concerned about E-commerce; E-recording; and E-notary; etc. initiatives at the state level. I like Elaine Marshall and I believe she does a good job, but ROD's are where the action happens on electronic documentation of Land Records, etc. We need a sit down with her on this stuff. I have confidence she'll do the right thing.

15) I have an exclusive key to an employee courthouse bathroom. I tried it on Thursday. (Hint to judges and staff--the public bathrooms are better).

More observations, but I'll share them as time permits... Take care, Mr. Deeds.





12 Comments:

  • Hey Mr.Deeds,
    How come you make no mention of the newly hired employee that you fired on your first day? Sounds like you are a hell of a guy!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:58 PM  

  • Thanks for the opportunity to share a shameful story about the former Register of Deeds. Yes, I had to call an employee Mrs. Payne hired in her last three days in office (AFTER my clear and repeated objections to her directly!)

    It all started when I had a meeting with the former Register and specifically asked if there were any vacancies in the office. She did not respond. I took that as a "no", but I was later told that someone had just applied for a recent opening in the office. I called Guilford County Human Resources and was told Mrs. Payne collected resume's for the position just after our meeting. I called Mrs. Payne DIRECTLY and did 3 things.

    First, I asked her not to make a hire. Why? Because as the incoming Register of Deeds it was the right thing to do to allow me to make the decision. Once I found out about the position I wanted to reexamine the position and explore possible reclassification based on the needs of the office. In addition, including Thanksgiving, there would only be a week left before I take office anyway. Second, (after giving me no valid reason for her making a selection), I objected to her in principal and told her I would not swear in whomever she selected because she could not do an adequate search in such short time. Third, I reasoned- why hire someone who would only work 3 days, who might possibly leave a job for the position, knowing MY strong objections based on the nature of the position and my desire to fill it myself?

    Well, I find my answer in her bitterness in defeat and disregard for people's lives in general. She ordered her staff not to process the paperwork until the last minute so I would not find out. She put the employee to work even before the mandatory drug test results came back (which is against county policy. Her actions were without merit, deliberately manipulative, and shameful.

    By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 7:29 PM  

  • Shameful? Let's look at this a little closer.

    First, you state that you asked her not to hire someone because you were coming into office. She has every right as the sitting Register to do this. It was her right and duty to hire an employee to fill a position to assist the customers and other staff members. Second, you state "Once I found out about the position I wanted to reexamine the position and explore possible reclassification based on the needs of the office."
    So, am I to assume that this employee could not serve in this capacity until you have had time to re-examine the job and see if it was what you needed? If she had just started, as you have already stated, then you have a probationary period that would very easily allowed you to keep the person in a job, making a living, paying taxes, and assisting the customers of YOUR office while you decided what it was you needed to do (if anything) with this position.

    Further the statement "Second, (after giving me no valid reason for her making a selection), I objected to her in principal and told her I would not swear in whomever she selected because she could not do an adequate search in such short time. Third, I reasoned- why hire someone who would only work 3 days, who might possibly leave a job for the position, knowing MY strong objections based on the nature of the position and my desire to fill it myself?"
    Sounds like a spoiled little boy who had the red licked off of his candy. The position was posted in plenty of time to find a replacement; I know I saw it on the county website. You basically state here that your feelings, ego, whatever was affected, so you took it out on a very well qualified employee, who was fitting in nicely and working well with the other staff. If she was going to leave because of your objections, then let her. The problem takes care of itself.

    And finally you state “Well, I find my answer in her bitterness in defeat and disregard for people's lives in general. She ordered her staff not to process the paperwork until the last minute so I would not find out. She put the employee to work even before the mandatory drug test results came back (which is against county policy. Her actions were without merit, deliberately manipulative, and shameful."

    Bitterness? Manipulative? Shameful?

    She is not the one who fired a new employee who was doing a great job. She is not the one who put a working female African-American out of work. YOU moved someone from making a living and paying taxes to possibly needing to draw from that same system. If the drug test was truly at issue, I am sure that she would have spent a day or two at home while you waited for the results. I am sure her Holiday Season will be a great one!

    Jeff, I work in your office, you just swore me in. I was really looking forward to the next four years. I enjoyed working for Mrs. Payne and thought once you learned what you needed to, a fresh face would allow for new ideas. During her tenure I watched an office that was upgraded to the latest technology, delivered customer service to it's users that was unsurpassed by none and a staff that respected there leader. Now, I see a little boy coming in that got his feeling hurt and took it out on an innocent woman who did not deserve that type of treatment. Rather Mrs. Payne should have hired this woman or not is not at issue. What is, is the fact that you fired someone who should not have been. You allowed a childish reflex to result in pain and suffering to an innocent bystander. There was plenty of time to truly decide if this person is what you needed or not. If not, then you could of and should of let her go. That would be just.

    Shameful, Bitterness, I think so. And shame on you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:46 PM  

  • First, the position was not an emergency to fill. She knew that and SHE COULD HAVE COLLABORATED with the incoming Register of Deeds if it was a necessity. She did not and as "sitting" Register of Deeds she used her power at the expense of a person's livlihood. That is wrong.

    Second, my basis for reexamining the position was in the context of the overall workload in that area.

    Third, I do not make a practice of completing a hiring process in one week and violating county policy in the process. If I had been the ROD for 14 years, I'd know better. She did not.

    Fourth, I am working diligently to make this office a great office. "IF" you are an employee, my goal is to serve well. As time will tell, you will see that. "IF" you are an employee, I want to work together with you in that effort--even if you disagree with this decision.

    By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 8:51 AM  

  • "First, the position was not an emergency to fill. She knew that and SHE COULD HAVE COLLABORATED with the incoming Register of Deeds if it was a necessity. She did not and as "sitting" Register of Deeds she used her power at the expense of a person's livlihood. That is wrong."

    -What was wrong was firing someone for no good reason. That is an abuse of power. She gave the woman a livlihood, you took it away.

    "Second, my basis for reexamining the position was in the context of the overall workload in that area."

    -As written before of the other writer you had plenty of time to exam the position and then make a decision, why did you not do this?

    "Third, I do not make a practice of completing a hiring process in one week and violating county policy in the process. If I had been the ROD for 14 years, I'd know better. She did not."

    -Again, did this mean you had to fire and person who had nothing to do with it?

    Fourth, I am working diligently to make this office a great office. "IF" you are an employee, my goal is to serve well. As time will tell, you will see that. "IF" you are an employee, I want to work together with you in that effort--even if you disagree with this decision.

    I look forward to it. It is not a matter of "IF". But I do think being anonymous is important that this point. You have already shown you will fire someone with out merit, and this was not if a person who did anything wrong. This was someone who got the short end of the stick because you were not happy with how she got there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:05 PM  

  • I have attempted to act with integrity and consistency in this entire situation. Obviously you agree with the former Register of Deeds action. I don't mind this becoming a bit argumentative. I think these positions are clear and the public can discern the truth of the matter.

    By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 8:35 AM  

  • "I have attempted to act with integrity and consistency in this entire situation. Obviously you agree with the former Register of Deeds action. I don't mind this becoming a bit argumentative. I think these positions are clear and the public can discern the truth of the matter."

    I am not taking sides. The former Register does not have my loyality. She was my boss, but is no longer. The sooner you let go of that the better off you are going to be. The past is just that. The only point I was tring to make, is there was a much better way to handle this issue other than taking away someone's job. That is what the issue is.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:12 PM  

  • Consider that let go.

    Your point is a "better way" to handle the situation was not to let the person go without a probationary period. I disagree with where you begin your argument. I didn't just enter the situation the day she was hired.

    I take issue with a 1 week process to hire any full time employee in my office. A point not made is that process was not fair to the other 80 applicants for the job who didn't get a fair look. It was not fair to the supervisors in my office who didn't have the opportunity to be involved in the seleciton. I began this situation insisting that the former Register handle the situation of a vacancy delicately and not too quickly. She understood my position. My position was not selfish, it was in the interest of the Deed's office.

    You argue that it is not fair to the person she hired who worked three days before I took office after a 1 week selection process. I agree, but disagree a probationary period is was the remedy. A new process is the answer I have chosen. I stand by it.

    By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 8:29 PM  

  • We can go back and forth as we want. The process was much longer than a week. It was posted on the website much longer than that. I know more than one person was interviewed, I saw them come into the office. Why be a "big" boy and admit that your ego was hurt. Again, why not allow the woman the time that is aloted to a new employee to see if she was right or not. Could it because she was African-American or a Woman?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:40 PM  

  • Like I said, the public can decide.

    By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 9:45 AM  

  • Now THAT crosses the line, anonymous.

    Accusing Thigpen of a questionable decision over an employee is one thing (I think he acted properly, BTW), but throwing around racism and sexism is way over the top.

    His record, hell, his actions, concerning the black community in Greensboro is beyond reproach. Sexist? I think not. That charge is completely unfounded and irresponsible. Both wild charges negated any credibility may have had on this subject.

    Tone it down and resume the conversation - if you must.

    By Blogger D. Hoggard, at 6:49 AM  

  • I am an employee of the ROD and in my opinion Mrs. Payne made a hasty decision in hiring her new employee. There were only few applicants called in for interviews. We at the deeds office commented on this while this process was going on and concluded that it was just spiteful. She made the decision to hire an african-american woman to see if the new ROD would let her go, to try and make him look bad. She only interviewed once and I for one have never seen her hire someone so quickly. Usually there are at least 2 to 3 interviews before a decision is made. I think Mr. Thigpen is a wonderful breath of fresh air to our office. Still changes need to be made but he just took office. I am sure in time he will see what I mean. All the users I have come in contact with have had nothing but good things to say about him. I think most of the employees are very happy with him I know that I am.
    I thought a lot of Mrs. Payne and I for one was very surprised that she didn't leave more gracefully.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:23 PM  

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