JENNINGS, Mo. – The mayor of Jennings is firing back against allegations of a hostile working environment after several employees resigned hours apart.

Mayor Gary Johnson addressed the accusations Friday morning, shortly before an emergency city council meeting initially scheduled for the afternoon. “I inherited this. So, the false accusations are false,” said Johnson during a morning news conference.

But at 5 p.m. Friday, Johnson stood at the doors of city hall and told the public there was no meeting. 

Entry was allowed after some council members insisted proper notification for the meeting was given. A majority of the council voted in favor of the three agenda items listed as new business, essentially overturning previous actions related to firings and hirings that some council members say were done improperly, and extending offers to re-hire.

Earlier in the day, Johnson denied allegations that he was to blame for a toxic work environment. He held a news conference and told reporters, “Ask the other employees if this is a hostile working environment.” 

During Friday’s meeting, some members of the public grew frustrated over some of the contentious debate between council members.  Some say political division in Jennings has fueled dysfunction. 

“We need the community to come together because for our community to be successful, we all have to be on the same page,” said Justin Herron, a resident of Jennings. “Right now, there’s just too much dysfunction.”  

Councilmember Terry Wilson said, “I’m just glad we were able to come and at least start the conversation. I know more conversations are going to be had, but I think we’re trying to right this ship.” 

Following Friday’s meeting, city clerk Deletra Hudson carried her personal items out of city hall.  Friday was her last day. She declined to direct blame in any one direction for her resignation, but she hoped calls for a fair and honest work environment will be heard.  

“The citizens deserve that, “said Hudson. “The businesses deserve that, and the growth of the city depends on that.”