City's film services Director Jay Self suspended -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

City's film services director suspended; faces possible termination

Savannah Film Services Director Jay Self Savannah Film Services Director Jay Self

Was Jay Self suspended because of issues over permits and parking involving pre-production for the Spongebob Squarepants movie in downtown Savannah? Sources tell WTOC that this is the case, even though city officials denied the claim publicly Wednesday.

City spokesman Bret Bell told WTOC on Wednesday morning that Savannah Film Office Director Jay Self has been suspended pending dismissal. Self has appealed the decision, and the city is currently reviewing the appeal. Bell said that because the matter is going through appeal, he cannot comment on it.

The Savannah Film Commission held a special meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Savannah Film Office. 

"Jay is as mystified as I am, and although we learned today in the meeting that he's been told the particulars he hasn't shared them with me. That's the one question I had today I wanted to find out and didn't get the answer to. I still don't know what it is that he's done," said Murray Silver, of the Savannah Film Commission. 

Film Commission members peppered Self's direct supervisor, Joe Shearouse, Leisure Services Bureau Chief, with questions about Self and the future of the Savannah Film Office. Shearouse denied Self's suspension had to do with Paramount Pictures, the SpongeBob film, or Broughton Street businesses. He told WTOC it was something that had occurred over a "long period of time" and did not just happen.

He told the commission there was paperwork showing what the issue was.

"I could pull out the documents and say, ‘Here it is, but I can't. So we will leave it at that," Shearouse said.

Shearouse said there would be a resolution to the situation, possibly, by the end of the week. If Self does not return to the job, Shearouse said: "a plan is in place". He will act as Film Office director in the interim, which includes dealing with "SpongeBob Squarepants 2" production crews as they begin filming on Tybee next Monday and in Savannah the following week.

Last week, Self told WTOC he had not spoken with Paramount "lately" about permits for Savannah and hoped to have new information by Monday and set up a meeting with merchants he would announce this week.

Sources inside City Hall tell WTOC Self was disciplined Monday after conflict over the closing of Broughton Street for an extended period of time and a refusal of permits until all local businesses were treated fairly. However, parking has also become an issue, with several residents living on and around Broughton Street.

Shearouse denied any involvement or influence from the state, SEDA or Chamber of Commerce in regards to Self's suspension and possible dismissal. 

Self has not returned my calls or e-mails this week. He has had issues with his employers at city hall before. The city of Savannah audited the Savannah Film Service Office in 2011. Four people were disciplined over improper use of city funds and a credit card.  

The audit was after the film office was merged with Leisure Services and was staffed by four people, including Self. Two employees were moved to Leisure Services, leaving just Self and Ryan Watterson in the film office.

Watterson was later terminated following the audit findings.

Self was suspended in August 2011, but returned to work on Aug. 19, 2011. He appealed the audit findings. 

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