by Max Brantley
Fun story in the Democrat-Gazette this morning about the firing of a coroner's office worker, Yameshia Thornton, who reportedly tossed a vase at Chief Deputy Coroner Patrick McElroy as she was leaving the office. She told the D-G McElroy had disrespected her. Respect and Thornton are an interesting pairing, given the content of text messages released on her conversations with McElroy about her absences from the office.
I got a copy of the conversation from County Attorney Karla Burnett through an FOI request. I also got some additional information — the public e-mail record [many e-mails were redacted as purely personal] of fired Coroner Garland Camper, who hired Thornton originally. He certainly was a flirtatious cuss with reporters who gave him extensive coverage that ultimately came to be a factor in his dismissal by Judge Buddy Villines. He was mindful, if not mindful enough, that the public might be able to see some of his e-mails. For example:
CAMPER to a reporter's note that isn't in the FOI document: Now what was so steamy about what I said I never commented about what you ever wore even though you wore them well. See I knew not to say anything because it would be considered flirting or making a pass. If I make a pass you would know it.
REPORTER: And this is your county email. Don't you have personal email?
CAMPER: I guess youbwill[sic] have to come and set me up a personel[sic] email
REPORTER: I know how to do it on blackberry. But you could use yahoo or something. Have you learned nothing from quillin [Ron Quillin, the former county comptroller who went to jail for misspending county money and who left a trail of steamy e-mails with a county vendor]? I'll write you nothing I don't want the world to see in a foia
CAMPER: Same here for now until I set up the new email. But they still can request then if they are accessed through the server or at my desk can't they. I like the way you changed the subject. I guess that means I won.
CAMPER to another reporter:
Thank you also. I waited for 1 and a half years to be interview by you. If I can ever help you with anything feel free to call anytime.
The texts between Thornton and McElroy follow.
On Aug. 15, according to phone records from Burnett:
McElroy: Are you coming back
Thornton: Naw got business I need to handle
McElroy: Please tell me if that the case cause you know Gerone would want to know. Thanks
Thornton: Tell u what
McElroy: If you we’re comin back from lunch
Thornton: I’m grown and i will leave the office whenever i get ready! Plus everybody else go and do as they please but when I have personal business to handle it’s a problem! I don’t care what u tell him bc he can call my phone if he wants to know something about me!
McElroy: Ok Meshia I just asked if you would please tell me ahead of time if you weren’t coming back from lunch. The guys let me know if they’re handling persona lbusiness, or are supposed to.
McElroy: I don’t know what I did to make you mad but I’d love to hear what you have to say.
McElroy: If you don’t text me what’s wrong im just gonna ask you tomorrow
Thornton: I won’t be in the office today!
McElroy: Thanks for telling me. Take a day to cool off a bit.