The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday fired the director of the county's troubled anti-poverty agency for what some officials said was mismanagement and failure to monitor the agency's finances.
Samuel G. Tucker, director of the Fairfax Department of Community Action, was "separated for unsatisfactory service" at the close of business yesterday, according to a terse statement released by the board after an hour-long executive session. Tucker was being paid $48,000 a year and was in charge of a department that had an annual budget of $3 million.
County officials said Tucker, who has run the agency for 10 years, was relieved because of poor "overall job performance."
The agency is "functioning, but we're hurting," said Maynard Hamilton, an Annandale representative on the Community Action Board, the 27-member body that monitors the agency.
Tucker could not be reached for comment. Harold Miller, Tucker's attorney and himself a former member of Community Action Board, denied the allegations. Miller said Tucker will appeal the decision to the county Civil Service Commission.
"Rather than representing management deficiencies, I really think they represent personality differences between him and his immediate supervisor," said Miller. He said he was referring to Verdia L. Haywood, deputy county executive for human services.
Haywood declined to comment on the case, saying he supported the supervisors' conclusion that Tucker's work had been "unsatisfactory."
County officials said they have been monitoring management problems in the agency for several years. Last year, the county took over several programs which had been under contract with Tucker's department because their payrolls, bills and taxes were unpaid.
Officials familiar with the situation -- but who declined to be quoted by name -- said Tucker did not monitor the agency's programs properly and said the department was in disarray. These officials said they have found no evidence of unethical or criminal conduct. They said some of the agency's financial contracts were mishandled and that the agency did not make "the best use of its resources."
County officials said the decision to fire Tucker came after months of investigation that revealed the agency, which administers several programs for low-income persons, was poorly run.
The Department of Community Action contracts with private agencies to provide emergency housing, low-cost medical care, alcohol counseling, job placement and other programs for about 41,000 low-income families in the.
Board member Hamilton said the initial impetus to remove Tucker came from Haywood, but that the chairman of the agency's board later asked the Board of Supervisors to "expedite" the action.
"We were foundering," said Hamilton. "The morale in the department was so bad that we weren't getting anything done."
County officials said yesterday that they had not yet begun a search for a replacement for Tucker.