Many in the Atlanta Caribbean Diaspora and beyond were shocked and surprised at the recent firing of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport general manager, Miguel Southwell (originally from Antigua). Last month, almost two years to the date of Southwell’s being hired to manage the world’s busiest airport, he was abruptly fired for reasons still unclear to most. Channel 2 News is reporting that Miguel Southwell plans to sue Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed.
In a letter to Mayor Reed, Southwell accuses Mayor Reed and his staff of, amongst other things, illegally monitoring employee emails, trying to influence decisions regarding awarding of lucrative airport contracts and also accused several cabinet members of suggesting that the City reach a ‘Newark’ type agreement with Uber whereby the city literally ‘sells’ passengers’ security for a large cash payment.”
“I want you to be real clear, if he continues this path I’m going to make public why he was fired. And he knows, that not only could I have fired him, I could have pressed charges against him if had chosen to do so. You understand me?
The fact of the matter is this. Miguel Southwell is fortunate that I don’t destroy his career,” Reed said. “What I’ve been trying to do was to allow him to leave with dignity. Reed went on to say that Southwell “an unemployed man who just built a massive house in the City of Atlanta has to figure out how he’s going to pick his career up from rubble.
~Mayor Kasim Reed
Attorneys for Southwell responded saying, “Mr. Southwell’s dignity is intact, and he has no concerns about any trumped up ‘charges’ the Mayor may manufacture and throw at him now. The truth is that Mayor Reed fired Mr. Southwell because he was unwilling to bend the knee to the Mayor’s ‘Friends and Family’ contracting program.”
This whole situation has gotten real personal REAL fast. Of course, RCS will continue to follow this developing story.
RCS Sidebar: Last month,I attended the Elaine Bryan Foundation Luncheon where Miguel Southwell was a guest speaker. He talked about education, hard work, and honesty. His speech was prophetic:
Most of us were taught well, if not all of us, to be honest and have integrity but one of the hardest things I found as an adult is the courage to exercise that honesty and integrity. Some of you have jobs where people ask you to do things that are not right but you’re afraid to lose your job cause you have bills to pay, you have kids to send to school. Especially those of you in public sector you know what I’m talking about…but the fact of the matter is you don’t have an option because once you lose that integrity everybody knows you’re a crook. And in the day of the internet and all of that, the whole world is gonna know and you won’t be able to get another job. Education, hard work and integrity. Regardless of your position, be prepared to lose it to be able to exercise it.
~Miguel Southwell, May 15, 2016 (less than one week before he was fired)
Did Southwell know he was going to be fired? I hope Southwell remembers what else he said that day.. “every disappointment is a blessing!” Good luck to you Mr. Southwell in all your future endeavors.